Alabama currently has more than 16,000 registered sex offenders, according to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Sex Offender Registry. The Elmore-Autauga News will be taking a more extensive look at this once-taboo subject as well as what sexual abuse and human trafficking look like in the area this fall. We will tell the stories of victims. We will visit some of these antiquated laws as well as highlight what help in available here for victims. We will also feature some of the many dedicated people involved with prevention and educational efforts.
By Gerri Miller
Special to the Elmore-Autauga News
The average human trafficking victim is raped more than 6,000 times. Are you uncomfortable yet?
This is one of the many signs a group of about 40 people held at a roadside awareness rally near the Village Green Park in Millbrook Sunday. It describes the horrors victims suffer at the hands of sex traffickers.
The peaceful rally was the brainchild of Stephanie Williams, who has stepped out of her comfort zone to let others know the horrors of sex trafficking and pedophilia. She is a Millbrook mother who is speaking out about these issues.
“It’s such a big thing right now,” Williams said. “My babies are getting big and people talk about things more than they used to at such a young age. I want them to be aware of what could happen to help keep them safe.”
About 30 people also participated Sunday in a photo shoot that Williams organized. Her idea for the rally came from the photo shoot.
Williams said she was trying to find a way to raise awareness and raise money for a related organization she is following called Operation Underground Railroad. Those participating made a $25 donation to Operation Underground Railroad. (O.U.R.)
O.U.R. has rescued more than 4,100 victims and assisted in the arrests of more than 2,300 human traffickers throughout the world. The organization devises an organized rescue with other organizations and also assists victims in recovery.
Information on the organization can be found at https://www.facebook.com/OURrescue. Williams can be reached on Facebook by searching for Stand for Our Children Rally. She said she is planning another event for October.
Rally participant Angela Hunt said she was passionate about the cause. “I love being here. I know in my heart that I am doing everything I can to help children everywhere,” Hunt said. “It’s so traumatic for the victims who go through this.”
Human trafficking expert David Humphrey and his wife Melanie Humphrey participated in Sunday’s rally. “It’s so important to have events like this where we have boots on the ground,” he said. “So many people have stories to share and it’s great that they can find others to talk to.”
An educational event on human trafficking will be held on September 30th at 7 p.m. at SpringHill Suites in Millbrook. It will be the first meeting for Humphrey’s newly formed Alabama Alliance for Human Trafficking and Child Safety.
Humphrey said there will be a few guest speakers and a Human Trafficking 101 class. He said his goal is to reach, teach, prevent, and protect. Humphrey has an internet podcast called LifeTalk Radio where he discusses human trafficking and helps parents know the signs to looks for when kids are being groomed for the sex industry.
Humphrey can be reached on his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/david.humphrey.756
An awareness rally was also held in Prattville recently. That rally was organized by Kandi Batrez, a Prattville mother of three children who believes there is power in numbers. She is taking her message about sexual predators to the streets and is making efforts to get stronger laws punishing sex offenders and traffickers.
Batrez’s efforts can be found on Facebook by searching for Alabamians Against Predators. See more photos below.