Thoughts

Elizabeth Fisher, CEO & Co-Founder of Selah Freedom, Flexes Her Muscle After 40 Are Arrested in Sex Ring in Atlanta

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I had the opportunity to attend what I found to be one of the most inspirational events during Super Bowl week in Atlanta. It was Selah Freedom’s Cocktails & Conversations to raise awareness about sex trafficking and I had the chance to meet Glenn Weiss, President, Wealth Management, Georgia Region at Northern Trust and Elizabeth Fisher, CEO & co-founder of Selah Freedom and The Selah Way Foundation. Fisher spoke to a standing room only crowd at the Northern Trust headquarters to raise awareness of sex trafficking a day after 40 traffickers were arrested ahead of the big game. Fisher was joined by the Selah Freedom Ambassadors, NFL Legend Tony Richardson and WNBA World Champion Asjha Jones who also spoke on the topic. Fisher mesmerized the audience that included athletes such as Super Bowl Champions Tyrone Keys and Matt Stover, NBA All-Star Charles Oakley, WNBA Star Rushia Brown and American Soccer Player Mark Bloom. Other notable supporters who hung on Fisher’s words were Actor Nicholas Smoot, Miss Universe 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters (Tim Tebow’s fiancé) and Afro-Merge Artist Marenikae. All of which are now backing Selah Freedom in its efforts of eradicating sex trafficking and saving lives across the U.S.

I received quite the education as I learned from Fisher that 1 out of 3 girls and 1 out of 5 boys are sexually abused and sold 15-40 times every 24 hours by their trafficker. Fisher shared with me that, “Sex trafficking is a $32 billion organized crime industry in the United States, where 300,000 American children are sold each year. The Super Bowl, as well as other large sporting events, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors, mostly men, who arrive in the host city with money and time to spare. The influx of fans fosters the optimal breeding ground for pimps looking to boost their profits.” Fisher stated that Selah Freedom is working in the cities in which the sporting events are being held and that is why more and more arrests are being made. Selah Freedom trains law enforcement in various cities on what to look for when it comes to traffickers and their victims. “It is sad to know that this is happening right here in our own communities but great that these arrests were made just days before the Super Bowl.” I asked Weiss his thoughts on hosting this event and he stated, “Northern Trust shares the same belief in the importance of eradicating sex trafficking and exploitation and we strongly believe in the power of community-based actions to effect positive change for the good of our future generations. To work with Fisher and her team is an honor.”

I commended Fisher on the efforts of her team in securing as many athletes and media members that were present especially while so many events were taking place on the same day. “Yes, I have an amazing team that works tirelessly and heartfelt ambassadors who are passionate about spreading the word and enlightening as many people as possible on this very dark topic. I also believe the athletes are taking time to learn about our work because many of them are fathers and protectors. They are seeing it through a new lens. Some realize that they have a family member or friend who has been sexually abused in some way. Once they hear about our work and the alarming statistics of 1 out of 3 girls and 1 out of 5 boys being sexually abused, they find it disturbing and more so, that it happens right here in the U.S.” I couldn’t agree more as I unfortunately know of a few situations like this as well.

I caught up with Charles Oakley who is one of my favorite Knicks of all time and I asked him what he loved most about the work of Selah Freedom. “I learned of the organization from our mutual publicist, MJ Pedone, President of Indra Public Relations, and I was immediately drawn to their mission. MJ personally shared her experience when she went on Selah Freedom’s immersion tour with a few athletes and spoke highly about their work and programs; Awareness, Prevention, Outreach and Residential. Selah Freedom confronts the issue of sex trafficking and is upheld as the model for how to effectively bring solutions to survivors of sex trafficking and exploitation. They know how to get it done just like me when I was on the court! How can I not support their hard work and effort and get behind them.” I admitted to Oakley that this made me like him that much more and he smiled and gave me a high-five.

Selah Freedom brings Awareness and Education to the community and organizations through their speaker’s bureau team, CSEC (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children) 101 Course, law enforcement training and Organizational Mentorship. Their Prevention Program equips parents, youth and those who work with them, with the tools they need to avoid being manipulated by a trafficker and successfully prevents girls from being commercially sold. Their Outreach Program is active in the jail system and on the street and provides support groups, case management and referral services to women currently in “the life”, as well as a prostitution court diversion program. They provide Residential Programming for survivors of sex trafficking that includes a personalized educational plan, job placement, trauma therapy, life skills, medical and legal assistance and holistic restorative care. As they bring light into the darkness of sex trafficking, they see victims transformed into survivors! Quite impressive if you ask me.

For more information and to support their programs, please visit: www.selahfreedom.com

 

 

 

 

 

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