Shannon Sigamoni and Wilnisha Sutton

Recorded March 16, 2021 Archived March 12, 2021 54:16 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: ddv000555


Shannon Sigamoni (28) interviews her friend and colleague Wilnisha Sutton (33) about Wilnisha's work in the anti-trafficking field, her advice to people wishing to join the field, and how she thinks the field has progressed over the past 20 years.

Subject Log / Time Code

Shannon (S) and Wilnisha (W) discuss how they met.
W discusses the work that brought her here today. W says her work has been very restorative for her as a survivor.
W shares about he trafficking experience. She says at the time people who were trafficked were treated as if they were being prosecuted rather than being treated as victims and survivors.
W says before working in the anti-trafficking field, she identified as a prostitute because that was all she knew. She describes how a song she wrote and a trip to Ghana changed her outlook and how she self-identified.
W and S discuss the media coverage of human trafficking and the lack of representation of Black women.
W discusses how her work differs from people's perception of anti-trafficking work. W says she is not in the field to save anyone; she strives to be a sunflower in people's life, showing them that she has experienced similar challenges and how she has changed.
W shares her advice to people wishing to enter the anti-trafficking field. She says empathy, advocacy, and support are needed. She says people also need to the work of working through their own trauma and biases first.
W shares what she wishes people knew about the fight to end trafficking: some adults want to choose sex work, and when it comes to minors, there should be a larger focus on the buyers in order to protect children. S and W discuss how traffickers themselves may be groomed into the role and be victims of trauma.
W defines what resilience means to her. She says her mother, Juanita Johnson, is a main source of resilience in her life.
S talks about her parents as sources of resilience in her life.
W shares the biggest lesson she has learned from her work: never judge a book by its cover.
W discusses the gaps in the trafficking field. She urges organizations to include a budget for food in grants and says there should be harsher fines and repercussions for buyers.
S talks about her work in OTIP and being a part of the federal government.
W says criminal vacatur, a process in which the crimes and demeanors committed by someone during their victimization can be cleared, is a great accomplishment of the anti-trafficking field in the past 20 years. W says criminal vacatur was very helpful for her because her criminal record would stop her from getting jobs before.
W explains how she would like to be remembered: as someone who spoke her truth, who was brave, resilient, and who had a great love for humanity and a special love for Black people.


  • Shannon Sigamoni
  • Wilnisha Sutton

Partnership Type

Fee for Service




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00:03 Hi, my name is Shannon Saddam. I'm 28 years old. Today's date is Tuesday, March 16th, 2021. I'm recording from Washington, DC, with wilnisha, son, who is my friend and colleague?

00:17 Hello everyone. My name is Juanita Sutton. I am 33 years old. Today's date is Tuesday, March 16th, 2021. I'm recording from Maryland and my name out. Sorry with Shannon and she is my friend and colleague.

00:34 Awesome. Thank you for agreeing to sit down with me when we shot and partnering with Otep on this, you know, I thought of you because the voices of Survivor leaders, like yourself are so important to have at the table, especially when we are discussing the 20-year anniversary of the trafficking victims protection act. So, just to give a little bit of background as I do refresher. This initiative will really be preserving and capturing stories of survivors service providers and really other professionals who have worked in the anti-trafficking field to really discuss how the guild has evolved over the past two decades, as well as what work still needs to be done. So, thanks so much for joining me today. No problem. Thank you so much for inviting me. You always

01:34 You always look out and I truly appreciate you and all your support. I thought we could get started by just kind of talking about how we know each other. I know you and I work together at a traffic, a non-profit in DC and I really enjoyed working with you. I remember, I still remember your interview, you were on Virtual because I think you're in California, right? I was in California.

02:06 Remember that was before coronavirus. So doing virtual things would like kind of knew yet. We were hit and so I remember your interview and I remember when we got off with you. I was like, maybe you need to hire her she's fabulous. And I remember when you first started, I was out of town, I think for the first couple weeks, but when I finally met you, I was definitely impressed by your work, your drive, amazing, creativity and talent and I feel really like you at that organization. So when this opportunity came up, I would like we have to talk to him a shot because I know she will

02:50 Thank you so much. I hope I remember the interview as well. It was definitely something unique because it was pretty covid. So I was not used to doing like virtual interviewing but you always feel like crying and just like it welcoming and I don't remember your smile. So you weren't even in the other person on the end. I can question, you know before I have met you and you were just so kind and you were out of town that you were just still like what? I'm sorry. I'm missing you and I won't be there for your first day, but I'm excited to meet you. And I was just like, wow, she's so thoughtful and my experience working. There was just amazing because I had great leadership, like, you, and you always, you always listen to me. And if there was any opportunities for survivors, you always emailed it to me, or let me know. And even if it was by your like Alicia, this is something you can do, personally, like, so you don't have to use the nonprofit and I just

03:50 Totally, totally, appreciate you for that. He's still doing now. Like, I'm so lucky to have standing in my corner like cuz I am from California and so I don't really have a big Community here. But you have that. One of the people that I looked too. And I know I can always reach out to me if I either support. So, I just want to say thank you. Like I always tell you and I truly truly appreciate you. Like, you are the definition of what you accomplished is like, you both over and done with an ally will do. And I just totally appreciate you so much. I appreciate the opportunity is whenever and oh my gosh, California and in in DC, so, I describe the work that brought you here today.

04:47 Perfect. Where can I brought me here today is my background is just case management was initially. I started as a peer support partner, that organization in California, and I had, I saw an opportunity and I just allocated for myself and told my boss at the time. Like, hey, like I don't work experience. I have education. Can I move up to a management position? And she was like, what you can and stole from there. I was a case manager for victims, 12 to 24, and then the unique part about that position. And even the position that I took with the entire shopping organization. We worked at together, was that I was able to work with the guy version Court in, with those courts there specifically for victims.

05:37 Human trafficking, or even those that are at Iris. In the one in this is a little different because they have a different component of like kids that are missing school a lot. But what I appreciate it is that I have my own experience with the justice system. That was not that good. And so it was very restorative to see that a happy different type of diversion courts Across the Nation that were specifically for you and it was trauma-informed. That was a perfect. Are they perfect. No, not at all. But I love the fact that like very transparent and they have their own judge. They have their own lawyers, their own DNA, their own therapist that are all sitting at the table and Advocates as well as managers sitting at the table together. Collectively for the betterment of of him. A lot of times, if you could be heard in there seeing, so I just really love that. And I I really love that about opposition because it was

06:37 It's a regular case management position. So it's very restorative for me as a Survivor to see that this was going on now, even though it wasn't available, when I was in the life.

06:49 Yeah, so that's actually it makes for sure. I was going to say it sounds like you've noticed, kind of, which is, you know, one of the questions I had written for later. But you already kind of mentioned, it sounds like you have already noticed the changes that have happened over the past 20 years in the anti-trafficking field. Most definitely are seen the changes. So my experience and my traffic has it happened about fifteen years ago and with my experience, it was just you are a prostitute and that's it. You can go to record, don't go by the. Don't go to the area. Where traffic, where prostitution is happening. You need to take that HIV test. So we were more of being prosecutor than we were being acknowledged as the victim. Right, but now I see a lot of

07:43 A lot of help in a lot of support and a lot more empathy and understanding for victims and now we're considered victim. Oh, I definitely see a lot of change happening and I'm super honored and excited to be a part of the change and to have not only a seat at the table but a voice actor table in to be heard. And I think that's why it's just so important always had. It continues to be too involved survivors in things like like this and in the grant process and in policy organizations excetera because I think part of the reason that things have changed so much is because survivors like you were able to come to the table and share your experience, and this is what needs to change and I agree.

08:39 Yes, I totally agree. Like we definitely need to have a seat, a voice, and even a state. I mean, stay at the table. Like you said, it the part of the brand and everything. Because prior to, I believe it was a lot of folks at the table that didn't even understand the population in came with a Savers mentality. But realized quickly, like are. So, if you want to really make changes to have experts at the table and you are the Olympics and experts. So why not work with us when most of us? I know for me, when I had got into this field. I was doing activism in in California, you know, James documentation was something that was very prevalent form. I was working with the nonprofit profit call. Elizabeth City in my heart. I was like, I want to help young girls and women that have been through what I've been through. Like, I've been able to change my life without any assistance. So,

09:39 Auto assistance, but it's not really like the anti-trafficking organizations assistance. And so it was on my heart and it was on my spirit to 2, to get into this field. And so I'm thinking now that the opportunities are Grand and I can serve in many capacities. Absolutely. I'm obviously your life experience, kind of inspired you to start this work, but was there a specific event or specific person who also inspired you to start this work?

10:14 That's a good question. I think. Yeah the specific event. So prior to me getting to this work. I had just identified as a prostitute because that's all I thought I was and that's all that I heard, and that was was, was on my record, right? But then, I went to Donna. I went to Africa and I saw how the black women retreat at their house. They were a born and how they were protected and how they just dress themselves. And of course, there is human trafficking, going on, is prevalent as in America. And when I saw that, I was like, I've never felt this protected ourselves as seen in America and prior to

11:01 I have made, both of us as well. I have made a song and it went viral. And a lot of women were hitting me up and telling me like, you know, you're human trafficking victim. And I was like, no, I'm not. I'm going to be like, I told this lifestyle, like even though I was seventeen when it happened and even though I had accomplished, leading up to my trafficking experience. I was just I know, like I'm not a human trafficking. This is the life I chose. But then I also be very Frank. It was a lot of white women that were contacted and telling me like you're human trafficking victim in the property, in the, in the promotion. I saw where a lot of white. When I do, see one and I was like, I was like, that's for y'all. That's not for me. We all have the same experience. So when I went to Donna and I saw that, I was like, okay, I don't think I really had that many opportunities.

11:55 Really be anything other in that moment than what I was, and what I was influenced by in my community cut the time. So when I came back to America, I reached out to one of my close friends, who happen to be a white woman. Her name is just dial it and I was like, just start working in the human trafficking Community. I was human traffic. She was like, oh, we work together, please me on. Like, after the work. She was like, what they call me truth. Everybody calls me when she's like, really think you were a victim, too. And it would just be me. And I was like, I was a victim, like, and then lo and behold the opportunity happen to be available and I do the interview and get the job. So,

12:42 That was how it all happens. That's really incredible experience. I kind of told me a little bit about that was really a life-changing for you and I I have heard you saying, and yes, you are so talented and creative. Thank you. I love that you're using that to really get your voice out there. And I also think it's hard because I think we're slowly getting better. But historically the media and a lot of the media and what's the trade as a victim does not look like a black woman. And so I think it was probably real. I don't speak for you. It's probably really hard to see yourself that way.

13:27 It was extremely hard again. Like when that video went viral. It was all these white women, hit me up in in no shape to them or anything like that. I was like, no. It's kind of ironic that my wife friend was the one that was like, I think you worried that I was but it was not a lot of us being promoted, or even having a voice at that time. And I think I was about like, 6 years ago. So eat. And then I see that the process of us getting to a better space collectively in our community is still slowly gradually happening. So I definitely didn't see any faces that look like me. And I and even though sometimes, I don't see it a lot. And even some of my clients when I show them, different tablets in different websites. For certain programs are like the sudden nobody on their looks like me to go back to working. There looks like me and that's import.

14:27 Any type of media representation has to be a fable, especially when I can't see Across the Nation are in California, and then DC black women are the main ones that are being victimized, when you look at the numbers. So, we definitely need to be at the table with those other. Women are not going to come for other victims. I just don't want to just a woman has to be mailed and non-binary. That's definitely something that we are we when we find organizations, we ask to see their true. Because, you know, we do want to make sure that the Trina and the energy use is representative of all types of people. I snapped, you know, the typical images they used to use

15:27 White girl with some other race big hands over her mouth or something like that. When that's just not the reality of what traffic looks like. Traffic is like, the movie Taken or like a show. And it's not realistic to what's really happening in America. This is happening in our neighborhood. So we got to be real in order to release case. This thing head-on. We can't like beat around the bush with it. Kind of hard to do that. Then how do you feel like your work differs from most people's perceptions of what your what anti-tracking work looks like?

16:13 That's a really good question. I think.

16:18 Indifference because most people think that I like when you work for these nonprofits or these organizations at your life, you need to get out of the life and you need to come with me. I can save you. I can help you. When in reality, a lot of times, you don't even have the the grant funding the funding, or the grand to just pay for people's basic need. So, how can we tell them to get out of the life? All we can do is reduce the harm and hopefully you didn't give them opportunities or give them resources so that they don't have to be in the life that long or get out someway somehow or planets to eat and eventually it can grow and they can get out of the lifestyle. But we're not here to say. Well, I'm not here to save anyone. My goal is to always to just be that, that that's sunlight or that sunflower elephant flower.

17:18 My life. You can change your life too. And I don't ever lie to them. I'm always 100 with my clients always and let them know like what I can and what I can't do. I don't ever promise them anything that is unrealistic or not in my job description because I don't ever want you to be like, in life, to me, or she told me she could do this. And she can't know, this is what I can do honey. I understand you have life to live and if I can't, provide you're busy then, who am I to tell you that you need to change and get out of this lifestyle? It's their choice. Is there like that? That's what makes sense. I think, two people think that when you're working anti-trafficking field, you're with survivors or victims that aren't from the us all the time, or? Yeah, or you, you know, why don't they just leave like, they're connected to

18:18 I don't agree with you. There is very complicated and you to like this is humans working with humans. But a lot of people are working with these anti-trafficking organizations. They got they own stuff that they got to deal with it and unpack a lot of times before Lottery traumatization happening because those aren't doing their work or not, going to therapy. Like we expect survivors to go to therapy and then share their story. All the gruesome experience that they've experienced in life, were just sitting at the table and they haven't even opened their Spirit open and done their work, but they want to hear everything about your driver. So it's a lot of things that coming to play that. I think like folks don't think of when they hear the anti-trafficking move in her community.

19:05 Yeah, absolutely. And I kind of that kind of leaves really well into that. The one of the other questions I had for you, which is what advice would you have for people wishing to make a difference? I always will be. My first thing is, please do not come into this. Still thinking, you're going to save anyone. We don't need you to save us. Honey. We have everything inside of us to save ourselves. We are resilient. We are brave. We have been through a lot of things that we have to navigate on our own. What we need is folks to come in and bring empathy. Bring the love, bring understanding to see things in me that I can't see in myself mentorship opportunities, Shannon. Okay, like give me a opportunity that, you know, a line with who I want to be in, just do your work, please. That is something that I emphasize.

20:05 Do your work. If you want to work in this field and you don't want to do any harm, then you need to go to therapy, you need to deal with. Your Prejudice is your bias, see your, your buy a saree in your white privilege. If you have that, you need to do what we all are affected by out by white supremacy. So we all have to heal from that together. Collectively. So, don't think you're coming here to see a little black and brown girls or white girls. We don't, we don't need to save me for the movies. The real life. We need support. We need love. We just need to know. I love that. I love that. You said to come in and see opportunities that we may not see in ourselves. We met. So many clients offer is just helping them. See that.

20:56 It is in, that is what helped me out. A lot of my journey and I didn't have it again. I was not in any anti-trafficking issues when I got out of the lifestyle, but I went to college and I have mentors and I was in different programs. And what I was honored to have was folks, I would like when he said, you're a great leader. I'm like me, or will you see your gift? And I was like, wow, so it was things that I couldn't see and my stuff with the time because of the drama and the drama and all the things that I carry with me. So those people were able to see those things. Help me get off my shoulder and then allow me to shine and even now like I would reach out to you or reach out to other co-workers that we had at the anti-trafficking organizations. We work together to do this or you guys will just let me know when things like that. That that goes a long way.

21:56 Yeah, no, absolutely. I think everyone needs that extra support. Sometime, especially when you've been through so much trauma. I like that still crucial. So I agree. So what do I think we can? Talk about this little bit. So let me know if it if it feels repetitive but what do you what do you wish more people knew or understood about human trafficking in the fight to end it?

22:25 I wish more people knew that.

22:28 Some good questions.

22:36 I wish people knew that when it comes to adults and precise adults and they're not being for Oracle horoscope light into this lifestyle. Some people really do to sex work and I think they should have that choice if that's what they want to do as an adult's, when it comes to the the mine. I wish that.

23:04 The John's or the buyers will be the main focus as far as like who's being prosecuted and held accountable or suppliers right here on the bridge or a little misdemeanor or add-on School.

23:25 What is that doing to these men primarily? Cuz if you looked look at this text is mostly men that are tired. What is that doing for them? What is? That's nothing. Most of them are wealthy. Most of them. They could just blow 200 to 500 to $1,000 each. Like we need more heavy fines and we're happy time for them. Especially when it comes to these children. Like we only want to protect our children. I think that's where our Focus to be. I'm not saying that like, we should allow the traffickers to get off easily. No, not at all, but we might want to start looking at it because, and I'm not trying to make excuses for any traffic or anything, but some of them is like we were grown into this lifestyle lifestyle. And if you ask some of the, but the folks that were victimized some of us to talk to him, how to be traffickers or pants. So, it's a lot that goes into

24:25 His life and his folks, really listened to the survivors to really find real solutions. That

24:32 I don't know who the end, but maybe we can find real solutions. I can help minimize it and minimize the harm. They protect our children. I think that's our most important. Our most important is the children. So we need to protect me from buyers that are just like, a lot of times, very gross, just to be transparent. I know, thanks for sharing that and I, and I kind of see your point about the traffickers, I sign up, interesting. I thought for a while, I mean all cuz I worked at, I don't know where we work together. I worked at a Howard University Hospital and I worked with the survivors of trauma, as far as Community violence, like gunshot wounds and a lot of the times they had also done that, like they were at that time the victim, but at some point, they had shot someone, they had, you know, stab someone, whatever the case. And I guess I think it

25:32 Tierpoint. Traffic. Was it shows that the that trauma is complex and Jared know all the time. What traffickers childhood look like, right? Or what? They've been through, has now put them in the situation not to sending them either. A tall is somebody interesting definitely.

25:53 Yes, some of them have very much do been victimized by some of the work that I do back home in San Diego, California. I work with some. Some guys are my neighborhood that used to be in that lifestyle and have that title. They don't like the workshop. Her, they're like the words in it. So I wouldn't even disrespect him and say that. But if you were there story where that older woman wronged them and talked in the lifestyle that she thought that you will make the business partners something. So, that's what he weren't in any hurry to think that means, I'm making $500 an hour. If that, like, why would you want to go get a job at McDonald's? You probably don't even have a high school diploma, or I know that like some of my uncles, like they were into that lifestyle. And so it was kind of like my cousins and stuff like, you know, just what you got to do and is it was normal life?

26:53 Uncle's, right? And it was not like to hear that. In the book. When I started getting more educated. It was like, I was like, I can't believe that this is what they're, you know, perpetuating and teaching the Next Generation, but all they knew. So if you want to lose your focus and Weebly are thinking about ending human trafficking in human trafficking, but we have to do it in a holistic miss, everybody not just for the victims and even for the jobs as well as they were taught that behavior by somebody or something. Or maybe it's the power Dynamic, whatever. Maybe we need to treat everybody as though they could be a victim and not like you need to be paralyzed Caputo's Channing maybe in about five years to start a program for traffickers. And now all of a sudden they're not child, is this mean 14 years ago. I was just a prostitute.

27:48 So, who knows? We might be having this thing. We might be wrong in some areas. We, I think we need to delete remind me to help everybody at the table if that's the real goal.

28:03 Yeah, no, I completely agree. I think that approaching it from all aspects. Like you said, is, is the way to go. Absolutely. You kind of talked about this as well. Just like, you have, survivors, being resilient yourself being resilient in your life. How do you define resilience and what have been? Some of the sources of resilience in your life? Good question, resilience to me. I defined, it is just being brave, and not giving up, even when you've been knocked down, where you can't see the Silver Lining or things are just dark and you just crawling through just to get through your even, if you have to call you crawl, even if you got to Martin Luther King said, something like that, you got to walk you walk. If you can run you run, that is what resilience he is to me. And did you have school today?

29:03 Just have there been any sticks sources are Brazilians, which is kind of touch on a bit. But yes, most definitely. My mother is my main source of resilience. That woman is just amazing how she overcame a lot in her life. I was born in the 80s. So during the crack era in the black community and she definitely was affected by that and I was in the system for a while and she definitely she signed a parental rights away. But by the grace of God, she got her from the rights to that doesn't barely ever happen in. She got off drugs and she did it didn't go to any a, A or type of rehab. And that's no chance of anyone that has done that but she just stopped and went back to college and got a job in her focus with your children back. And that's exactly what she did and she was always vocal about her since she never changed herself. She never hit.

30:03 She was, she went to college and she would have a few scholarships and she was speaking about it. And so, she always tells me I'm her many times, 10 game of the Baton. So I'm just now, I have my own experience and I'm just picking on, but my mother Juanita Robinson is my source of resiliency and even to this day, my motivator. Am I. Number one person that would tell me about myself really fast like you ain't doing it. Right? So I'm so I'm so honored and just so grateful to have a mother like her to just get her story and said, she took me to college with her to be able to see that. So when I got out of the lifestyle, where am I going to get started, telling my story. Scholarships and I was able to take her to lunches and you stand on stage and tell my story. So it's just, it's a beautiful thing for her.

31:02 For me to be able to,

31:06 Beavis bold person that I learn from her. So I give all honour and reverence that are so grateful for people, like you and people like hard that aren't ashamed of telling your story. Because how would you inspire other people if you didn't, you think I'm resiliency mean to you, and who is your Source? I mean, yeah, I definitely same same as you just being able to get up again, persevere through every everything life has handed you. I would also say my parents, they have went through a lot. They are immigrants to the US and I saw them come from nothing. 2 3 4, jobs to being very successful. My mom is also very admirable. She is a boss lady and ever going to run. Everyone around her move yet.

32:06 I love that about her and I think I followed her, but that's a lot with especially in my career isn't working money. She actually works for Family Services, but she doesn't do social services. She's in like the business side of it, but it's definitely follow her as well. Because she's definitely set the tone for me of how to be a boss lady. And you are a great caregivers and I can ask one of the reasons why I like to I got into this work. Like I my mom always gave back to people like that. She would give her last two people even if I have to eat first, you have to get your mama's so fat. Like I have some teacher like Mommy, can't get everything away. And what are you going to have for yourself?

33:06 Children, yes. Yes, it's so I'm just going to say that's that's their main thing. I knew she did everything for me and my sister and I'm so so grateful for that. I don't have kids but I know, but I know we're so blessed to have our appearance in to have strong women in his woman's mind that you know, what is the weight of a lot of our clients and a lot of people we serve they don't have that and so I think we should get myself clothes as well because we are simple things like when I first had to do my taxes or you know, it just the most basic things when we bought this.

34:06 Mom helped me through that and it was easy for me. Then when I started doing, I was an ambassador at San Diego City College for a while. A lot of the students were, like what I want to do this. Like, I was, I had a lot of privilege last year and heartbreaking. He was looking for his college, just like being able to feel so grateful for what we have.

34:46 What is the score? What is the greatest light? I feel like these questions are kind of overlapping. But what is the greatest lesson learned from the work that you've done?

35:04 Never judge a book by it's cover, honey.

35:09 I so many different incidents are popping up in my head, but I always tell the story of this client and I don't like the word client in San Diego, used to wear partner partner. So his partner.

35:28 He was a young black girl. She was taller than most people in a little more bigger than most people, as well in her voice was you she was very vocal. She know the system better than most of us that works at the program program, better than most of us that work at the program in fire. Can you work in there? They have. Did a lot of spoiled spoiled her. We had more funding from like private lenders at the time. So the money they were able to see how ever when that program manager left. A lot of those waves left as well. So we had a new program manager in this partner was just not happy with the changes. She was used to come in getting what she wanted when she wanted and how she wanted it and meet him me.

36:28 Very much do and pathetic. I'm loving, I'm understanding, but because I am a survivor. I really don't hold a hard line cuz I know that there's more inside of him. The most people know. And yes, I do feel their story and you can't play me Fishin. I will push back at her and she was getting to the age of Aging out of our program. And so I'm like, honey, like you have a lot of opportunity. So I've been here for you, that's helped you lie along the way. Now, you're about to go to the real world without all the services and it's helped and it's not going to be so nice. So I was trying to really push her to be more independent and she it was really good and she didn't have any family. She didn't have a lot of support. So I was kind of like her support at the time and so

37:28 Cussed me out with come to the programme. Tell me I'm not doing anything for her. She don't want to talk to me. She was off the other staff hurt, my little son. Sometimes sometimes I take personal time, but I work through it and my supervision and I did my work because honestly, she reminded me of myself a lot and do I have to do that work within myself to check myself. And so she was very sad when she know she wasn't even in the program anymore when I left and I move to DC, but she found me on Facebook and she asked me if she was like, cousin San Diego, they call me will meet you at the home of the last name. They're not as progress, Washington DC area to change my life. If it wasn't for you, like I don't think I would be where I was at. She also called the, she call me one time cuz she was having suicidal ideation and I was able to help her.

38:28 Navigate through that. And so I say that to say, I did not think in that moment. Shannon and I had made that impact on our way. I don't think I did anything for her. I don't think I will ever be a little too hard, but come to find out. I was exactly what she need it. And at every her story ditucci is always paper, Harris Teeter, good energy. And I just will not ever judge a book by its cover. And then also just to talk about, you know, like pronouns and things of that nature. I was dealing with another client in this clients. Call me a lot about pronoun.

39:12 They were transitioning into a male and I am forgive me. If I'm saying this wrong, if anybody's listening to this, I'm still learning. But they taught me so much about the lgbtq community in show. Me so much grace when I was say her to some days they would dress more feminine and other days more masculine and was. So gracious with me. I was understanding this bed and just keep trying, keep trying. I was just so honored to be able to go to that. So now I'm always right now and I honor them like these two partners. Have taught me so much in exchange my life so much.

39:52 Yeah, no, absolutely. That's incredible. And I think that's the best you can do right now is try to keep learning and you know, that's I mean that's that's the best you can do. Kind of getting into the specific like kind of going back to a specific Pacific Ocean and just like the general, what would you will start with gaps will end on a positive note? What are some gaps in the anti-trafficking response? That's to be addressed in? What are some jobs that need to be addressed.

40:35 I would just ohmigod this. I know this is going to sound crazy people that are listening, but for Grants anybody that's listening that that give grenades please the food into the grand, please food is so vital. I remember, when I first start working in the program with the program in San Diego, we have onions for food. So we were able to even $10 just to take the science to McDonald's if that's what they wanted $10. I just hope so much on the record building. I don't know why they don't think. I mean, I understand I get it, you know, it's a grand thing and they got to focus on specific things that I need to be met in this community food is vital. So, if you all can revisit that, please put a budget in there for some food. And then, of course, the thing that I said about the buyers in the John's, I think they need to help you refine treated like a, like a DUI. The first time.

41:36 $2,000 / $5,000 * $10,000 like a big to where they don't want to pay back in and even make it to where they have to.

41:46 Make it to where they have to.

41:51 What was I trying to say? Make it to where they have to maybe be after the second time? They have to register as a sex offender, like it needs to be more Hefty fines and smell a shins because I think that they're just getting away with it. If some of these folks are in the same room in the anti-trafficking community in the same room. I don't we imagine how a stroke in the Regal in the like, what's going on in things are knocking your cords. Then I think those are the main two things that I can think of awesome. No, that's really helpful as though, I think that's another reason that Survivor voices are so important with Grands. It's actually up to the organization to write in food in the budget. And, you know, funders usually approve that but if it's an organization doesn't, then they might not write it in.

42:51 It is such a great way to build rapport. And, you know, I saw it coming into the federal government would be. I'd be so removed from that direct service world found that they do such an excellent job of taking. Like, you know, there's there's lots of different Survivor councils and things like that that create reports and recommendations, and they take those and they really try to implement that into their programming. And so, one initiative that I'm working on this year that, I mean, it's richest in the research stages, who knows if it will even happen, but it's a really figure out a way to work with Survivor organization, starting out and need those resources. How do I apply to Federal funding?

43:47 How do I do this? How do I do that? And we're going to be trying to get them Technical and training system, so we can have more anti-trafficking, Survivor LED organizations that back cuz you're so supportive and understanding. So you're already doing it now, but you already know you all have that program are, you know, you going to let me know when it happened so I'll be ready. I know where are probably coming up on time soon. So I do just want to ask just two more questions, but you kind of just have known this earlier and I know one of the things you mentioned was having a different like a criminal justice system for you to experience. Traffic. Is there are there any other accomplishments that the anti-trafficking field has had in the last 20 years? Would you say?

44:47 Criminal vactur on my gosh. I just received my criminal making sure, so let me know pretty much criminal bakerture is this thing to wear like during your victimization as you have any thing that's on your records from misdemeanor or felony and it happened during the time while you're being victimized. Can you tell your story by creating a declaration with a lawyer? Then you can have it to where your record is? Not expunge. Not clear. But like they have to demolish your file, like it never existed. So, I work with this organization, in San Diego, call free to try that out to Jamie and Dion. Oh my gosh. I love them so much. And so, we went through a process and they found me a pro bono lawyer.

45:47 I cannot think of the name of the super super firm. I love them as well, and Kelly are so amazing. So again, my experience with the criminal justice system was horrible, when I was in the lifestyle. So imagine a woman going into a law firm sitting down in his Covington. He asking me, you want some coffee. If you let the water out of creamer. Do you want to help me with everything? As far as my declaration declaration? Is your whole story from when you were born premature, until now and it just shows like your traumas or drama to history and even how you change your life if that was the case. And so it helped me create my declaration. I just sat there told you my story and they just wrote it all out and created the Declaration for me and then

46:47 I even have to go to the courts to where I was criminalized at in petition. I only have to go to 1 Court, which was in Orange County, LA, and San Diego, and didn't require me to be there. I was able to have representation there for me. But the Orange County Court, was where I had the most traumatic experience and so Jamie, which is the founder of one of the founders of Prius drive. He offered to drive me from San Diego to, Orange County was like an hour and a half drive. So I was nervous again. I had a horrible experience there and so she drove me there.

47:31 Let me know exactly what to expect and let me know that when we should, this is brand-new. Most of these courts. Don't even know about this there. Like, we mean, we have to destroy someone's breath. So there might be some kinks in the, in the, in the, in the in this. But just I'm here with you to support you, do we get to the court and the court style is just like a like if you got a traffic ticket, so there's a lot of people in the in the court and so soon as we get there, the judges like, oh, I want to see, I just walked up a flight of stairs at the judges, liked it over your declaration and I must say, you know, I'm really, how do you say who did all this work in my lawyers? I know you did to work change your life. I'm so proud of you. Can I come off my bench and Shake Your Hand.

48:31 I was like, what? Like, yes, you can. So you came over and she shook my head in the whole a whole quarter. Just started clapping and just like, I was like, is this really happening? What a way to like restored. My faith in the justice system where way to restore my experience that I had already experienced in Orange County court, in in jail, is so we left Allen. Jamie was like wilnisha. This is never happened before is. So again, with the criminal, they could. Sorry. I had to tell a little story. I have representation for all three Court, San Diego, California, San Diego, LA, and Orange County. It took a year. And I were to actually go through though, cuz it has brand new, and so it was a bit frustrating. I remember, even when I apply for the position with you all, have to let you all know. Like

49:31 I have this on my record and you know what? Something that we navigated through together. But now you know, I'm in DC. My lawyers are always sending me. I think I got a I got a email from them yesterday. They're like, okay, when you see here is a copy of this record is actually destroyed in National City, which is in San Diego and like they are so helpful. Like they gave me a whole folder of everything I needed. And then so now, I don't have to say that prostitute, any, it is nowhere stated on my record that I was a prostitute in orthopedic, Dr. They gave me award before I left if you eat for fiber of the Year award, so I'm just so thankful for free to try and just for the opportunity to have criminal dicature because I used to stop me from getting jobs. I remember one time. I almost got a job at a photography place like me and my family went to go take

50:31 And I'm very bossy like you, right.

50:42 If you want a job here, I was like George and I always have my ways of getting jobs and so did the interview and they weren't able to hire me because of my background in another time. I had an opportunity to work as a teacher's assistant. I had already started and it was contingent upon my background. And me being me my friends call me a stupid to tell her because I'm always tell you the truth. I was working there and fell in love with the kids at work there for like 3 weeks and I was just asking, did you guys get my background check yet? And they're like, no, we haven't got any yet.

51:26 Should I will do you want to tell me what it's for and I told her and then the next day she was like we got to let you go and then come to find out. It just have to be both the position was already filled in that job at the time was about $17 an hour and I didn't have a degree. So like I have missed out on these opportunities to change. My life is something that is tremendously needed for survivors. If we're really talking about lights up changing their lives and really don't like a regular citizen smile on my face. And I think another thank you to you when we should because like I said, you just said there's no record anywhere of your history of what you've been through, but you're still choosing to share it to my other survivors and that's really huge. So,

52:26 Anita, I noticed it a long time, but you're going to work your one of those first people that this has never happened to you. So you have your going through the struggle for other people's. I'm like, I got to tell the story which is, how would you like to be remembered? Like, what Legacy do you want to leave for your family or your community? I was Brazilian that I had a great love for Humanity but a special love for black people in that. I love myself. I love myself enough to go hard and to heal. And within my healing, I was able to heal others.

53:23 Amazing. Thank you so much again, for a really amazing catching up with you, and thank you for sharing your story. And of course, I will continue to send you a million opportunities. When I come. Thank you. And I appreciate you again. You are the definition of an accomplice. If you all want to know how to change your life from an ally to accomplish. If Shannon up, if she can teach you the right way. I truly appreciate you. Thanks. It's awesome. I'm thankful for OT for this opportunity and just, just honored to be a part of this beautiful, beautiful initiative. You bother putting together. Thanks so much.