The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

September 3, 2013

Who's a victim of human sex trafficking?

(Continued)

The Salvation Army, as it does in other cities, also helps for victims of human trafficking through its STOP-IT initiative. Those services might include giving victims cellphones, clothing and food, items traffickers may have provided to keep them dependent.

The victims also have access to counseling, but aren't required to attend.

"We don't tell them what to do. Our goal is to build independence, both from traffickers — and from us," says Elyse Dobney, STOP-IT's volunteer manager in the Chicago area.

Brenda Myers-Powell — a former prostitute who now works as a peer specialist and counselor at the Cook County jail — agrees that independence should be the goal.

Early in the process, it's good for the public to understand that victims are victims, she says.

"But you can't stay a victim forever," she says. "At some point, you become a survivor."

As a hand-made sign on the jail wall where the Prostitution Anonymous group meets says: "It's never too late to be what you might have been."

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On the Internet:

Salvation Army STOP-IT initiative: http://sa-stopit.org/

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Martha Irvine is an AP national writer. She can be reached at mirvine@ap.org or at http://twitter.com/irvineap

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