Warren church’s new Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative aims to break stereotypes

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"We want this to really be a huge awareness campaign," said youth director Stacey Altiere.

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Monday is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. A local church is using this time to educate the public about the issue.

“We could save lives,” said Stacey Altiere, youth director of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Warren.

Addressing members of the church on Sunday, Altiere talked about their new Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative.

“I think we can do it as a congregation because we move mountains all the time,” she said.

Altiere says the goal is to educate people about what human trafficking is, teach them how to spot the warning signs and shift the conversation from prostitution, or selling sex, to what’s actually considered human trafficking, all while connecting people to agencies already on the ground helping victims.

“We want this to really be a huge awareness campaign and debunk every stereotype there is out there about the issue,” Altiere said.

“It’s not necessarily a choice that they’re willingly making,” said Laura Bartchak, co-founder and director of the Harriet Tubman Movement.

The Harriet Tubman Movement is a volunteer advocacy group based in Northeast Ohio whose mission is to fill the time gap from the time a victim is identified until they’re able to get help from a long-term restoration program.

“Human trafficking is the social justice issue of our generation and I believe as a society we have to understand what it is and what the needs are to address it,” Bartchak said.

And they’re not the only ones in the trenches. RAHAB, or Reaching Above Hopelessness and Brokenness Ministries, also aims to help survivors, like Angel Dague.

“I just felt worthless,” Dague said.

She was once a part of the cycle but says Jesus and the people at RAHAB, where she now works today, rescued her when she was arrested for prostitution in 2008.

“He literally saved me but he placed amazing women at RAHAB to start with that never judged me for where I’ve been, what I’ve been through,” Dague said.

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