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Advocating for Victims

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SANFORD, FL – The Seminole Prevention Coalition’s late-March meeting featured guest speakers who discussed a pair of very serious issues — sexual assault and human trafficking.

Nearly 1 in 5 women (22 million) have been raped in their lifetime and only 39 percent of rapes are reported, according to statistics shared by Rebecca Crawford, Community Outreach Coordinator from the State Attorney’s Office, SAVS (Sexual Assault Victim Services).

SAO 18th District logo_182xSAVS is a certified rape crisis program working in cooperation with the State Attorney’s Office to provide free and confidential support and advocacy services to sexual assault victims and their loved ones.

SAVS is staffed with victim advocates who provide victims with emotional support and assistance in making informed decisions.

In 2012, there were 237 forcible sex offenses and seven domestic violence sex offenses reported in Seminole County. During that same year, 920 forcible sex offenses and 184 domestic violence sex offenses were reported in Orange County.

The majority of rape victims are young, between the ages of 16 and 24, Crawford added.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80 percent of female victims were raped before they turned 25 and almost half were raped before they turned 18.

“Rape is everyone’s problem, not just the victims’ problem,” Crawford said.

The 24-hour rape hotline operated by SAVS is 407-321-RAPE (7273). For more information on SAVS visit

Human trafficking is another disturbing topic that was addressed by Sue Aboul-hosn, Central Region Criminal Justice Coordinator Missing Children/Human Trafficking Advocate with the state Department of Children and Families.

Florida DCF res_182xHuman Trafficking is modern day slavery. It is defined as the transporting, soliciting, recruiting, harboring, providing, or obtaining of another person for transport; for the purposes of forced labor, domestic servitude or sexual exploitation using force, fraud and/or coercion.

In 2013, there were 12 reports of human trafficking in Seminole County.

Trafficking is a huge industry that generates up to an estimated $34 billion in profits for traffickers. Aboul-hosn explained that unlike other illegal enterprises involving drugs or weapons, people can be repeatedly exploited and sold over and over again, making the industry extremely lucrative.

There are 2.2 million victims in the United States and 56 percent of victims are women and girls. Victims can be found working on farms, in factories, bars and restaurants, brothels, escort services, on the Internet and even in private homes.

Some child victims work in traveling sales crews and roam through residential neighborhoods seeking donations for fake charities, Aboul-hosn said. They’re forced to work long hours, they’re mistreated and are left unsupervised all day long.

While anyone can become a victim of trafficking, certain populations are especially vulnerable, such as undocumented migrants, runaway and homeless youth, and impoverished individuals. These groups are all vulnerable to recruitment tactics and methods of control.

In fact, two thirds of all runaways are recruited into the sex industry after spending 48 hours on the street, Aboul-hosn said. It is estimated that 1.5 million to 2 million children will go missing this year and that 5,000 of them will die.

Please call to get help, report a tip of suspected trafficking, or request information and training.

The state Department of Children and Families Abuse Reporting Hotline is 1-800-96-ABUSE (22873) and the number for theNational Human Trafficking Resource Center is 1-888-373-7888, or text INFO or HELP to BeFree (233733).

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