Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Interview Michelle Simonsen -- U.S. Domestic Trafficking

"Most families are told by law enforcement that their child is a “runaway” and do nothing to follow up on the missing person case or with the families themselves."-- Michelle Simonsen

While googling "domestic trafficking incidents in the U.S." the first article on google that caught my eyes was "Sex Trafficking--It Happens in America, Too" by Michelle Simonsen. After visiting her blog, Michelle Says So, I realized that she will be a vital source in raising the awareness on the issue of the domestic trafficking in the U.S. As an investigator of the U.S. crime, she offered me the information available to someone who actually witnessed human trafficking in the U.S. in a very tangible sense. I personally found her interview very informative despite the research that I have conducted on domestic trafficking prior to the interview. Lastly, I am grateful for her candor, courage, and passion for the justice that breezed through her responses.

YK: Tell me a little about yourself and your blog.

MS: I went to law school for a year with dreams of becoming a prosecutor in sex crimes. I am a victim of rape I wanted to help others by putting sex offenders away. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford the enormous tuition, so I only completed the first year and then worked in the legal field for 10 years. Since I’ve always been a writer, in 2005 I decided to start a true crime blog and named it “Michelle Says So” because of my notorious opinionated and passionate attitude. I focus on issues such as missing persons, sex offenders, women’s issues and other crime controversies. Soon after I started my blog, I began following the Natalee Holloway case. I felt connected with her personally due to the fact she was sexually assaulted and hadn’t received any justice for her assault and murder. After Beth Holloway declared a boycott against Aruba in November, 2005, I personally connected with her and I started a consumer grassroots boycott movement against the island of Aruba due to the cover-up of Natalee’s murder and the multiple conspiracies in order to protect their tourism.

YK: What inspired you to write an article about human trafficking in the U.S? How did you first learn about it?

MS: I was inspired to write about human/sex trafficking after studying the case of Amy Bradley, who was abducted off a cruise ship in 1998 and has been seen throughout the Caribbean as a sex slave by at least four individuals. In fact, all these witnesses contacted the FBI, only to be ignored. I was instantly shocked by this “invisible” and rarely prosecuted crime. Generally speaking, we are naïve citizens and I chose to get involved in order to educate others about these heinous offenses against our women and children. My audience is for everyone. Women, men, mothers, fathers, boys and girls. Education is the key to freedom and change.

YK: Many Americans think that human trafficking happens only in countries like Thailand or Eastern Europe. In an effort of raising the awareness, what would you say to them about trafficking within the U.S.?

MS: U.S. citizens tend to believe human trafficking only happens in other countries. In fact, human trafficking is the one of the most lucrative and increasing crimes our society faces. Some have the opinion that “prostitutes” have chosen this lifestyle. For the majority, this is not the case. Very rarely do the traffickers or pimps get arrested, charged or punished. The women arrested are treated as criminals instead of victims. When the women are released from custody, they go back to their captors due to threats of violence against them and their families. Most have no victim support resources, no one to protect them, and have brainwashed by these manipulative predators. Girls and women who are brought to the U.S. from other countries get their passports taken by the trafficker in order to keep them from escaping. They have nowhere to go, are isolated from the public, and don’t understand their rights or how to seek help.

Traffickers tend to choose young and impressionable girls and women because they know the girls can be easily fooled and tricked, then ultimately controlled through violence, threats and even murder.

Trafficking occurs in every state. You can live out in the country in Montana or Idaho, or you can live in a big city like New York, Los Angeles or Chicago. This epidemic does not discriminate locales. Sadly, it’s a matter of supply and demand in which men continually fund this criminal enterprise.

YK: Based on your research / knowledge, what do you think is the biggest cause/problem of the trafficking in the U.S.?

MS: People believe that the police are here to protect us. However, most cases of human trafficking that have been uncovered have been through tips from concerned neighbors and people who detect something suspicious or “just not right”.

YK: How can people support anti-human trafficking in the U.S.?

As I said, education is the key and the best defense is citizen involvement. Many individuals have the mentality that they don’t want “to get involved”. Yet, these are the key people who can cause change and raise awareness to law enforcement and politicians.

There are many loopholes preventing the identification of human trafficking. In some cases business owners, law enforcement, hotel establishments, and even politicians have their hands in this most lucrative illegal operation that nets over 32 billion dollars a year. This makes drug and weapon trafficking look like kids with a lemonade stand.

Other loopholes occur in the justice system itself. Sex trafficking is very hard to prosecute because the women are too afraid to come forward and testify against their captors. Since most states do not have resources to help and protect these young women, it is almost impossible to successfully prosecute those involved.

Unfortunately too many states lack law enforcement training, task forces, research commissions, or victim protection. Polaris Project, which focuses on human/sex trafficking charted each state to determine what laws or programs that are in place.

Polaris Project declared that “U.S. states with no existing law or pending legislation specifically addressing human trafficking are Alabama, Delaware, District of Columbia, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.”

According to the research done by Polaris Project, 24 states have no human trafficking task forces, 30 states do not have human trafficking law enforcement training, and 22 states offer absolutely no victim protection services. (Polaris Project, “U.S. Police Alert on Human Trafficking—Summary of U.S. Policy Activity”, July 2007.

However, this can be easily changed through the old saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil”. Politicians need our votes; therefore they need to address our concerns. The only way this can happen is for us as a society to step up, take notice and fight.

People tend to believe, “I’m just one person…what can I do?” If everyone changed that apathetic mindset things can change and lives can be saved and rebuilt. In addition to John Q. Public, trafficking survivors need to speak out and be proactive in order to stop this from happening to others.

YK: Have you received any responses from the audiences? If so, how have they responded to it?

MS: I have received huge and positive responses due to my human/sex trafficking article. I’ve connected with families who have lost their daughters to sex trafficking. They are grateful because the media, law enforcement and politicians don’t take these cases seriously. Most families are told by law enforcement that their child is a “runaway” and do nothing to follow up on the missing person case or with the families themselves.

YK: What did being able to write an article on human trafficking mean to you?

MS: Writing the sex trafficking article was important because I believe this needs to be addressed fully and in the forefront of our society’s problems. I want to educate and offer assistance to as many people as I can. Even though I am only one individual, I believe I can make a difference in someone’s life through my writing and motto of never giving up.


  1. Great interview. I applaud Michelle for her determination and passion for exposing the unnoticed injustices that happen right in front of us everyday. She is someone to be admired for standing up for change. Thank you for highlighting her work. It's inspiring to see that each one of us can make a difference.

  2. Joey,

    Thank you so much for your comment. Please continue to visit our website for further news and information on global human trafficking

  3. Victory!!! This website and others needs to harald other survivors to step forward into the light to tell their remarkable stories for all to hear, and others to tremble. to do it for public safety, to do it to expose BIASES with Civil Servants and lay clerks whom are failing to file these vital Homeland security reports to their FEDERAL government at once. too many officers of the law, clerks, sheriffs departments, District Attorney's offices, and the entire Social system, & the court representatives of the American law system.. do not kow how to discern local law from a Federal matter!

    We need to further education and upgrade ALL of the definitions. We need to bring those definitions out from behind the curtain and out into the open once and for all. We do this by HEALING our WITNESS to empower these little children to trust once more and come out and SPEAK! American Citizenry on the frontlines fighting to stay alive as men and women with a desire to be free, and persue their chance at life and dreams like anyone else. So much time is robbed these Citizens all over the world.

    We need not cover criminals but send a loud herald that sdfgovernments are organizing hardline tactics to address and expedite coursed to REACH out of reach Citizenry whom m ight be in trouble. It has begun people, it has begun on the east coast, and the west coast of the United States, but more over in the East, Asia, and Europe. It is a well organized tackle to send the message people shall not make fun of governments worldwide by this inhumane agenda.

    Manfred Nowak is addressing turture of people in the United States. So many of human slavery are entered into assigened torture their voioces are not heard by local law, and these cases are never known by our federal governments.

    How could it be that such cases be tried in juvenile courts and not Criminal Courts or FEDERAL Courts? If our federal government would discover that their own states were assisting perpetrators to cover & continue evading the law on technicalities to the dismay of young persons in perpetual odds to live in captivity with very police delivering them to their perpetrators as RUN AWAYS the state capital would blow a head gasket as this is a conflict of interest a& Corruption.

    When populations do not report things to their government this affects our infrastructure and the workings of our system which was designed to protect us.

    ~Let's bring these ships in if they have weathered trafficking and torture. Lets see whom have survived and from *WHAT YEAR they return to us from! ~~ARE THESE ALIVE???

    We are in serious communication failure Citizen's; in the area of an. . .


    Bias runs amuck, we cannot afford this to be on ANY payrol. Our young persons are in trouble!
    Where is that good old Corporate American *Five Star Standard Emergency Manual for the common layman? Why is it not firmly in place? Where has our training gone if police minimize National Security level matters because of: AGE, Gender. Heritage, afiliation, and economical discrimination. Many are in violations of serious Geneva Conventions and humanitarian law to allow Probate FRAUD to have place sending family members to flight for their lives. Where are the Sheriffs to uphold the law when celebrity status establishments vioolate rental law and case a reseident into the street without due process in a court of law whom are among these Citizen derailures in America. Should we wait until these grow up and return furious on us all?

    Will not one rescue their own people, and will we understand the spoken word when a cry for help is heard? Will we take the report at once to secure the public security of our communities hiding UFAP criminals, and other felonious entitites in our gapped cities who lack iknvestigative discernment?