Free to Live Gala is a public event being held later this week on Friday, May 16, 2014 in Dublin, Ohio to bring awareness to human trafficking. Guest speakers Vanessa Perkins and Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Paul Herbert will be there so Vanessa can share her personal story and Judge Herbert the information on how to halt this terrible crime.
Vanessa is a 27-year-old Nelsonville native whose travels now take her to cities and towns like Dublin in an effort to share her survival through trafficking and how she was able to get the strength to get back on her feet through organizations like Doma International, The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, CATCH Court and the Salvation Army’s Central Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition.
With help, she was able to become a woman who was able to see just how strong she was and how wrong the traffickers were when they made her believe she wasn't worth anything. In return, she is speaking out about it.
Judge Herbert has said he began fighting this major battle against traffickers when he began to see a decided increase in his courtroom. “One-third of all the women enter prostitution before the age of 15 [and] sixty-two percent get into it before they are 18-years-old. That’s before any of them can sign a contract or do anything legal,” he said. He is also trying to get people to understand how closely knitted prostitution and trafficking are.
Judge Herbert knows the prostitutes are often victims of trafficking and how the boys and girls trafficked are often runaways. They are scared and find themselves in the arms of those who mean to do them harm. He says, “I don’t want to speak diminutively of the prostitute. I want to tell you how disgusting the men are.
Friday’s event is at The Country Club at Muirfield Village in Dublin and is to be gala formal dressing with tickets costing $49.00 or $90.00 per couple with live musical performances and a gourmet dinner being served. The address is 8715 Muirfield Drive, Dublin, Ohio 43017. [see map]
The proceeds will be going to CATCH Court and the Salvation Army’s Central Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition.
CATCH Court (Changing Actions to Change Habits) was established by Judge Herbert with the goal being to reduce recidivism; going back to traffickers and the streets. It is a two-year voluntary program that women can go through and have charges against them dismissed and the Central Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition has been working since 2007 to help those caught in the trafficking web.
The Central Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition offers the boys and girls, men and women, who desperately need help to get 24 hour emergency response, long term “comprehensive care to help victims become survivors”; safe, short-term housing to escape traffickers and the Street Outreach program that reaches out those who need help.
Sources: Athens Ohio Today, Susan Tebben; NBC4i, Ellie Merritt; CATCH Connection | Doma; Salvation Army’s Central Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition; Free to Live Gala Facebook