Dayton groups fight sex trafficking

Bill would offer support system that area groups already provide.

“I’m excited about the future of Dayton because all of us are committed to the same cause,” said Adam Young, co-director and co-founder of the Love 146 Dayton Task Force, which is a chapter of its national organization and is committed to ending child sex slavery and exploitation.

“We all have our own interests, but we want to reach beyond those interests. We want to slave-proof the community.”

Some of Dayton’s other anti-trafficking organizations include Oasis House, Men of Action, Abolition Ohio and the Dayton ongoing outreach project of the S.O.A.P.— Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution — organization.

“We all know that it is almost exclusively men who are the purchasers of sex slaves. But if you get men more involved in these organizations, then you change their tolerance for the abuse of women and children,” said Anthony Talbott, co-founder of Abolition Ohio.

Similarly, the new organization, Men of Action—a partner of the Love 146 Dayton Task Force—tries to take a proactive role in combatting sex trafficking.

Founded in February by Todd Circele and Jeremy Schulz, Men of Action is committed to “changing the hearts of men to look at the sex industry differently,” said Circele.

The group also participates in the S.O.A.P. organization, which is an outreach that distributes bars of soap with the National Human Trafficking Hotline number attached to them. These bars of soap are given to motel owners with the hope that if a woman were being trafficked, she would be able to call for help.

Why a bar of soap?

“The bathroom is the only place where these girls are allowed to be alone,” said Theresa Flores, former sex trafficking victim and founder of the S.O.A.P. organization.

Flores said she is certain that had she seen a bar of soap with the trafficking hotline number on it, she would have called it. “I would have at least had someone to talk to,” she said.

Men of Action has been working closely with Oasis House, which provides direct support and services to women involved in the sex industry in Dayton, including those who have been trafficked.

Together, Oasis House and Men of Action recently acquired a building from the Southwest Ohio Church of the Nazarene to use as a safe house for women seeking shelter through Oasis House. It will house eight to 10 women.

“This will be such a blessing, because every day we turn away somebody who wants and needs a place to live,” said Cheryl Oliver, executive director of Oasis House.

While the safe house will provide physical safety and support for sex trafficking victims, Oasis House has been providing emotional support for victims since its founding in 2004.

After years of being raped and trafficked as a child by her father and several foster parents, a 42-year-old Dayton woman who identifies herself as “DJ” went to Oasis House for support.

“I felt like I could take that whole load off and tell them anything I needed to,” DJ said.

“The thing that’s missing in these women’s lives is supportive services,” said Oliver. “We are here to pick them up, dust them off and help them get on with their lives.”

Among the supportive services Oasis House offers are professional counseling, psychiatric care, GED tutoring, self-empowerment classes and a mentoring program.

These services help sex trafficking victims deal with the type of abuse and neglect many of them have been experiencing their whole lives.

“Everyone who was supposed to protect me as a child didn’t,” DJ said. “I grew up thinking there was nobody there for me.”

The National Human Trafficking Hotline number is 1-888-3737-888.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2138 or estudy@coxohio.com.

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