DescriptionFriends and colleagues Staca Shehan (44) and Melissa Snow (42) talk about their work in the anti-trafficking field, reflecting on childhood memories that show where their interests in the work sparked. They remember first meeting each other, share their experiences interacting with anti-trafficking work, and reflect on where they have seen progress in anti-trafficking work.
Subject Log / Time Code
- Staca Shehan
- Melissa Snow
Partnership TypeFee for Service
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00:03 Hello, my name is Stacy Sheehan. I am 44 years. Old. Today is Thursday, May 13th, 2021. I am recording from Alexandria, Virginia. My recording partner is Melissa snow. And our relationship is friends and colleagues.
00:24 Hello, my name is Melissa snow. I'm 42 years old. Today's date is Thursday, May 13th, 2021 and I'm recording from College Park, Maryland. My recording partner is Stacey she hand and she is my friend, my boss and my colleague.
00:40 Alright, Sasa. So we're going to take it way back as a child. What were your hopes for your future? What do you think about what you think about what you wanted to be, when you grow up, you know, I'm 44 years old. I'm not exactly sure. I remember exactly what I wanted to be when I was a child, but I do remember, what put me on the path to where I am now? And that really all started with my mom. She's in Avid Reader and she really encouraged my brother and I to read and that was especially frequent during summer breaks from school. And this is how from a young age. I begin reading crime novels and psychological thrillers and its influence my future in kind of a funny way and slightly embarrassing way. If I'm being honest in middle school. I read Silence of the Lambs and I became obsessed with the idea of using knowledge about Behavior to solve.
01:40 Crime and prevent an offender from hurting someone else. And I say it's a little funny because I also remember how it freaked out. One of my family members and they asked my dad, do you think it's normal for a 13-year old to be reading and super interested in Silence of the Lambs? And then sell, although a little embarrassing to admit that fiction books, influenced my future. This interest was persistent. And when I went to college, I majored in Psychology and minored in criminal justice. Well, I could totally see that. I can see you on the beach on summer breaks, just nose buried in a book just totally into it and definitely a little alarming. I think I feel the same way. But, you know, I think you're really on to something that, you know, my interest started early as well. And I think for those of us who have made careers in this anti-trafficking field that and cruise out of working on really tough topics.
02:40 I think there's something in the DNA right now. There's something that pulls us towards this, that's internal and drive the passion, and the motivation to do work. That's hard. Right? And so growing up. I did a ton of volunteer activities with my family and then with my youth group, and I remember going on, countless like covert missions with my family, to like drop off Thanksgiving baskets and clothes and really anything that that my parents had heard through friends of friends. There was somebody in need and we were doing this family thing to eat to get something to the minute, became his Incredible family event today to pack the bags to pack the baskets, to drive to their house, that you do it at nightfall and to like drop something off at the doorstep and ring the doorbell or knock on the door and then like run to the car to get in before they came out. And you know, with my youth group we did lots of volunteer. So we'd paint, we clean. We build. We were always doing something at us a local shelter.
03:40 Work for a local community and I loved it like it is truly. We're like, I think I felt most me. And so yeah, I love sitting on the floor and talking to people hearing their heart knowing their stories even as a kid, you know, it just was something that just was comfortable for me. And so I always knew I wanted to do something in the helping field. And then I heard about the topic of sex trafficking in college in, in early 2000 and I just knew right away that that's what I want to do. Like spend the rest of my or Focus my energy on really. So okay. So from going from being a thirteen-year-old reading Silence of the Lambs and receiving your bachelor's in psychology and criminal justice. How has your life been the same or different from what you imagined?
04:29 Yeah, it's interesting cuz I feel like, you know, life never ends up, or you think you were going to go right at work. I would say, very rarely. Does that one of my first jobs after college brought me down to Virginia from Pennsylvania and I started at the national Center for missing and exploited children in the call center. You were still in college cuz you're a lot younger than I am. But in 1999, I made that move and my plan was to get a couple years of job experience and to learn more about the criminal psychology field and then to apply to federal law enforcement and that was my plan. I had told everyone about it. That's what I was going to do and 22 years later. I am still at the national Center for missing and exploited children, and I have not applied to be a law enforcement officer. And the reason for that is, is that I learned by working at neck neck that my skills were better suited for being an analyst and
05:29 Analytical jobs for something that I didn't even know existed. When I was in college. I didn't even realize it was a field and still working at the national Center. Gave me that opportunity to develop those skills. And I did that first when I worked in the exploited child Division and now in the analytical services division, so what I realized as I could use analytical skills to support the work of others in identifying and locating those that are sexually exploiting children and that that effort would help prevent further child sexual exploitation. So thinking, broadly, the goal for me has remained the same but how I went about it. And what I thought I would do as a young child and, you know, growing up. I just found the mechanism has change from thinking. Originally, it might be law enforcement to really being a nonprofit analyst.
06:22 Yeah, it's think it's amazing that you've been at knick. Knack for 22 years. I mean, that's just to have that level of institutional knowledge, with an organization and to grow within an organization and to watch that organization grow with you, right? It's just something that I think not many people do these days right at me and cluded. I've been a hopper. All right, so I have hopped around to a couple different organizations and you know, although my passes look different because I've had some different jobs, every job that I've done, has been focused on providing and developing trauma-informed in Survivor form services. So I could hop back and forth between the micro in the macro, level of the anti-trafficking field, which I know for me. I think it's been really helpful, right? So, it's an advocate for laws, or if you're going to advocate for policy change, your system change, really having that, that experience of sitting there with somebody and seeing how the system or the criminal justice system, or the child welfare system.
07:22 Rites as intentionally or unintentionally cause them harm gives you such perspective to be able to and Tasha and truly to go in. And to say the of this thing needs to change a man and I went to advocate for this type of to shift. So, you know, most of my work is done with nonprofit organizations other than four years sent to the FBI as their child victim program coordinator. And also a little dabbling in the hostage recovery Fusion SEL, which was a story all of its own. But you know, I really loved how each job that I've Had Each engagement. An opportunity has really provided skills in perspective that then has been able to launch me into kind of what I needed to do next. And just being able to say yes to things, you know, a different doors and opportunities that I've opened. And so I think the biggest pivot for me though was that when I first started my career in the anti-trafficking movement, I was almost entirely focused internationally the nonprofit. I was working.
08:22 Set the time also just the issue of trafficking 20 years ago. So she in the US we were just focused about it happening over there, right? Somebody, you know, in in Africa or in Asia, right? The traffic situation and end while I love that. I love traveling. I love the culture. I loved you all of the different experiences when I realize. It's right. That when there was a yo-yo when it was revealed that there was trafficking Happening Here in the US. I just couldn't couldn't not focus on it here, right? It just felt wrong to overlook an issue that was happening within my own community. And not try to make a difference so that if it happened pretty early on in the career and that's the rest is rest is history as they say, right? So I'm really interested in your hearing your perspective on how we first met. I have such a vivid memory of meeting you for the first time.
09:22 And I would just, I would love to hear from your perspective. Like what do you remember about that meeting? What do you remember about me at the time? Yeah, I laughed because I I don't think we've ever talked about this and, you know, we've known each other now for a while. And I am curious if your recollection is wildly different than mine or if they're closely aligns, but my recollection is a co-worker at the national Center had mentioned, how excited she was to be working with you in as part of a working crew. And you know, she shared with me a bunch of accolades about you and how well respected you are in the anti-trafficking community, and how she really felt you made strong and very poignant statements and that she felt like people look to you in the room for how to respond and everyone really relied on you to kind of digest down the information. So they
10:22 What is the issue at its core? And so after hearing that about someone, I didn't yet know, I thought, you know what, I clearly need to meet this Melissa snow. Like I need I need to see if you know the Fan Fair is held up in reality. So when I did, I do remember thinking that not surprisingly my coworker, hit the nail on the head that she was a hundred percent accurate. The one thing I didn't expect as much is, you know, in this is a preconceived notion is the way you looked. So very well put together long blond hair and you're not expecting it all the time, you know that but these preconceived notions that I need to work on getting rid of but like hard-hitting statements and like very strong backbone and fortitude on on issues and, you know, so you're the outward appearance didn't necessarily match in the guy that made me love you all the way.
11:22 Work. And then, you know a couple years after that. It's like the stars had aligned in a way. I had the opportunity to hire the first-ever child sex trafficking subject, matter expert at the national Center. And as I thought about, you know, who cuz I wanted to do some recruiting obviously it was going to be in application process. That was open to anyone but I thought of you instantly and I reached out I I knew where you were working at the time and I thought I'm really going to have to make this good because I don't think there is any way she's going to want to switch to a new career at this point. And so I reached out I dangled that carrot just fingers crossed hoping that you would take it and, you know, lucky for me and for the national Center you did. So now I am really interested to know if this is how you remember it or what you remember differently cuz this could be hysterical.
12:22 So I am so grateful for the care that you dangled. First of all, you know, cuz it was just incredible opportunity and and truly, you know, Nick Nick in general has our national Center for missing and exploited children has been a part of my career from the very beginning. Right? And so the, the opportunity that you put out there and the fact that you, you know, you have faith in me, you believed in me and, you know, just gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. I will be forever grateful for. So I really appreciate that and in just making that opportunity available in happen, in terms of the day we met. So I definitely, you know, I know exactly what you were talking about the, the Nicollet coworker, who is she, and I've been going back and forth on some things. And, and she was really excited. Because at that time, she had kept telling me about, you know, this this awesome boss that she had and that you guys were really starting to figure out how the national Center for missing and exploited.
13:22 Children was really uniquely situated in the field to be able to find the missing kids figure out where these missing kids were and the fact that you all were locating them online. These escort ad that you all have visibility into both sides of the issue that people weren't putting the pieces together on and you all had started to do that and it was an incredibly Innovative moment in time and also kind of like a game-changer moment in time where it was like as the field was trying to figure out this issue of trafficking and and how is this traffic in happening of children in our own communities, you know, where can we find them? And what do they look like? What it? What is happening? And you all were saying we found them and it was just as like, I mean, really I could Goosebumps now just thinking about it was just this moment. And so she and I were in this, you know, this working group meeting and she was like, you know what, that's it. You've got to meet my boss. We we've all got to talk about this and she just kind of just started walking out of the room as a guy thing. I'm supposed to follow her, you know, and we walked all through the Halls.
14:22 Nick, Nick, which I was just in all of an engine. She just walked right into your office. And I knew it was a completely unplanned meeting, right? Cuz I remember you looking up, like, you know, what's, what's going on, but we are without missing a beat, you know, you just for, like, sit down. Oh, you're let's talk and the three of us just got done together and just had this most, the most amazing conversation, just totally off the cuff, and that for me to is exactly how you been since that day. Right? It's just, you know, being warm and embracing of people and and just willing to just jump in and have thoughtful and meaningful conversations about really tough topics, you know, because that's who you are. Right. And this this issue in general is just such a passion for you. So I've always loved that and then of course, you know that again the opportunities just started to unfold and our relationship, you know, both personally and then professionally just continue to build from that moment on
15:22 And I really love what you said to about 10 of the the the perspective of kind of who like was walking in the room. Because I know I've said, you know, and I've worked in the field with survivors of trafficking for Garrison and often times, when I would be the one that showed up, you know, law enforcement, just recovered them and here comes me and my little vehicle to come and be helpful, right? And I get out of the car. Now. There's always a little look like on their faces like her. She's going to be like, you know, the person that's going to help and they don't get it twisted, right? The glasses and a long blond ponytail. Don't let it fool. You like I will go to bat for you. I will be your Fierce Advocate but I think that's played to my advantage more times. Then I then I realized. So, lots of fun. Thanks for for reminiscing, with me on that. That was fun. But it it's it could have gone really poorly. So I appreciate you. Recollecting it the way you did.
16:22 So, you know something just something like a little bit more serious questions and discussion, like we both know that this issue of child sex trafficking is complex. It's often misrepresented in movies and media and it's a constant battle for us. So, you know, in your day-to-day work, you know how or how does your work actually differ from most people's perception of of what the anti-trafficking field looks like in work looks like yeah, you touched on this a little bit like one of the first things that comes to mind that sadly you had already moved Beyond at the very beginning of your career, is the misconception that trafficking happens elsewhere. I I get a little frustrated that we're still combating, this misconception that when you talk to people and you know, like my mom's friends or, you know, friends that I meet outside of work and things like that and they find out where I work.
17:22 And when start to learn a little about what I do, and ultimately, one of the first comments that they make is, oh, you must do a lot of work in Southeast, Asia and Africa. And, you know, excetera and I have to explain to them know, I'm talking about right here in the United States, and they're baffled by that. And when I further explained, that I'm not just talking about us kids. I'm talking about us buyers and us traffickers. And I'm often talking about missing children. So kids that are running away from home, for a lot of reasons are then being exported through trafficking and it's just, you know, you get back a blank stare and a disbelief. And so that part is a little frustrating in terms of having to overcome that barrier for what this work actually looks like. But what I've also found is that once people seem to understand that it's happening here, one of the next misconceptions that comes into play.
18:22 And it is Kenny really, harmful is around the idea of rescue that people have it in their mind that these kids are being rescued from exploitation. And then they believe, okay, it's over like they've been rescued. We can move on. When what we know from talking about, or talking to kids and teens, is that, that moment of intervention and Recovery doesn't feel like a rescue. That it often feels really scary. Really confusing, and sometimes even traumatic. And that's when people believe that it's a rescue. That also doesn't it, it often maybe even prevent them from thinking about what were the causes that led up to this exploitation. So that's kind of also one of the harder parts to is because if you don't think about it further than thinking,
19:22 It's it's a rescue that occurred if you're not realizing that it isn't that your then often not realizing that things that can really influence the situation like lack of resources in a community or housing instability intergenerational sex-abuse racism, sexism, lack of upset of acceptance of gender identity or sexual orientation domestic violence, all of these things that people don't want to think about, or don't even realize are connected to trafficking and addressing those things are anti-trafficking work and the lack of understanding about this often leads in this weird way to blaming the child for the behavior that results from those things. So that's where I see people's perceptions, really different from what anti-trafficking work really is and sometimes in a harmful way. Yes, I I could not agree with you more. I think the, especially the term rescue.
20:22 And just everything that comes with the ripple effect of when we use that term, when that's the perspective of the helping professionals. And when the the perspective is also that these individuals need rescue, right? It really doesn't honor. It doesn't honor the skills and that the victims have had to cultivate and use daily to survive these unimaginable circumstances. Right? And and so you know, I think that's one of the biggest disconnects in the field right now that even though some of the language is starting to change a little bit around rescue, right? People are being more vocal. That this is not, we can't have the term rescue, but we also can't have the rescue mentality out. There is right, that, you know, that there is these unintended consequences around that. And, you know, one of the things that I have always been working with survivors, the thing that I was always amazed by
21:17 Was you know how, when we make that shift? And we start to see that these individuals again, have survived unimaginable circumstances. The things that I couldn't even begin to. Think about at housing, get through on a minute-by-minute much less day week year basis, and, and that, when we are approaching it for a place of you, you have incredible skills that I've allowed you to survive the situation. We start for a place of recognizing that strength is empowering for the survivors. It's empowering to understand how, to even shift some of the skills that they use to survive, just things that are meaningful and their day-to-day work, right? It's not about just wiping the whole slate clean and starting fresh, which so many programs really focus on that. This this whole thing was. Over here. And that we're going to do then set you on a path to healing and Recovery. That's going to be better or good or whatever. And, you know, one of the things that we have to make space for two, is that, you know,
22:17 There's a process of grief and loss that survivors have to go through when they're exiting the life, right? That, that, you know, not everything was bad. And that that's a survival mechanism to hold on to little moments of Hope in the little moments of connection, whether that's with other individuals that were in this exploitation with you, or whether it's the moment that the trafficker, the pimp or the buyer, somebody show the moment of of dignity or Grace, or whatever. Like those things you have to be able to talk about as well, when they're on that kind of path of healing and recovery. And it far too often. It has to be a one or the other and it doesn't just create the space for that. So I think we've there's been a lot of progress, but I think it, you know, as survivors are becoming more vocal about that moment of recovery as well as just a lifetime of a healing, it takes and how it can't be time. Stamped either. You know, it's not a 6-month program and then I'm good to go. And I'm never going to have
23:17 Trauma triggers are things like that again. So again, I think there's a lot of great work that's been done. But there's definitely some work that we need to do my favorite stories from your, your journey and and just kind of being in this work.
23:37 Yeah, I feel like when you're doing the type of work for as long as we have sometimes, you think, like you can't be surprised anymore and you know, and especially sadly like surprised in a good way. There's lots of bad surprises in life and in this career, but a good surprise, we'll really catch me off-guard sometimes and so I was thinking about this and the one that came to mind was almost 10 years ago now. And I still remember it really clearly and I can almost picture it as well as I can explain it. That I was working with one of our teams at the national Center, who were creating anti-trafficking, training for law, enforcement and prosecutors, and it was called child sex trafficking awareness in response to a multi-day training. The very first pilot class. We had about 30 attendees. And so I went to the class. I presented a block on our
24:37 Resources, but then I intended the entire thing, and I got to kind of audit it in a way in and keep an eye out for opportunities, to improve it, and really be able to hear the feedback first-hand. And so throughout the entire class each day. There was one attendee who sat in the very back of the class up against the wall. He didn't even sit at one of the desks. He sat in one of the extra chairs in the back of the room that we're really for kind of presenters coming in and out, or, you know, seeing when they're black was about to start, but he sat back there and he was on his phone. The entire time, every minute. He was obviously, you know, corresponding via email. He was taking calls and stepping out of the class, just really appeared uninterested and not really paying that much attention. And so since it was a new class, periodically each day, we would pause and ask just for raw immediate feedback on what was
25:36 Working in, what was it. And on the last day of this class? This guy raised his hand and spoke up. I literally held my breath because I was like, this is going to be brutal. He is about to break this thing down and explained everything. He disliked about it. And, you know, I was shocked with what he had to say. And because of that, you know, I'll never forget it. He looked to the entire class and said that he really did not want to take this class his boss, made him take this class. He tried to get out of it multiple times, but he couldn't. So he took this for grudgingly. He came in with that attitude and I was like, in my brain, like, yep. Will that was clear, but then he continues to share that very quickly on the first day. He learned a a really important but also difficult lesson that he had messed these cases up. And that there had been cases, he had worked in the past that he didn't
26:36 Didn't realize involve child sex trafficking and there were cases on his caseload right now that he didn't realize we're connected to child sex trafficking. And that as a result. He wasn't providing all the protections and resources that these kids deserved. So after I pick my chin up off the ground, he continued that, you know, this was really hard for him because he went into the career of being a prosecutor with the intent of protecting victims. And so that since he learned that on day one, he had been emailing his staff and his team and doing phone calls to try and fix the cases that he currently had and see if there was anything he could do about the cases in the past that he quickly remembered that, he, he felt he didn't serve those kids, the way he should have. So, you know, when we went into creating this training, of course, we wanted to have an impact and of course,
27:36 We wanted to make sure that child sex trafficking survivors were treated with dignity and respect and that they got the services, the end resources, they deserved. And that law enforcement and prosecutors were better informed and equipped with resources to handle these cases, but what I never expected and what I'll never forget, is that it had an immediate impact on that one, attendee that rippled out to so many different people from there. And like I said, I just was shocked and it really just gave me the chills that it had that much of an impact. I never expected that now, that's incredible. I know that's exactly what she want to come out or those kind of trainings, right? That's why you know, you put those on but you're right. It's you know, I think sometimes there are those folks that come in thinking they either already know it all, or they don't really understand why they're there to begin with and hopefully they kind of have those.
28:36 Commence, butt. You know, for him to have you, no had that, you know, pivot moment and then to be willing to share it back out, you know, it clearly was impactful for him.
28:49 Yeah, I was so impressed with his just raw honesty and putting himself out there in front of, who are his colleagues and other professionals. Because all of the attendees were from that immediate area where we were hosting the class. So it wasn't like, it was, you know, a nationwide group of people that wouldn't really know who he was or where he worked. So where I started from a place of like, frustration with him from observing his behaviors from the outside. I ended with admiration and gratitude that he was willing to share that with the group because I felt like it was one of the most powerful moments of that tramp. And I think two is, you know, the the him being able to share that Story 2 with other people, especially other prosecutors. I've seen in trainees where the audience members talking to their similar colleagues right law enforcement talking to law enforcement, a child welfare.
29:49 Child welfare and be able to, just be honest in saying, you know, I thought I had it. Right, right. I was coming from a good place, right? I was doing the best with what I knew and I think that's where a lot of where we're at kind of right now in the, in the anti-trafficking field is that you got a lot of people that know, just a little bit, right? And are truly doing the best, you know, well-intended are doing the best with the information that they have put this issue is so complex and we are also constantly learning new stuff. Like you said earlier, there's all these intersectionalities of the issue that we were soaking a singularly focused on on the issue as it was presenting. And we're starting I think we're at this place right now. Where were it's like the third wave right? Where we're seeing or expanding out or recognizing that there's other forms of trafficking and other variations of those types of trafficking. There's different types of, you know, victims of victimization as an Defenders and the way that plays out looks very different and I'm making space
30:49 All of those other stories, even if you're very well trained, in what we know to be kind of the, the typical narrative write a cisgender, female victim, mail offender, under pem control, right? Or third-party control that even if you're an expert on that, there's a whole another set of information that you're missing out on. And so that constant need for new training to be coming out and to be in a forever learner. I think it's absolutely actual to be working in this field.
31:21 Yeah, without a doubt.
31:25 So one of the things, you know, that I was thinking back on to is just, you know, kind of thinking when you were talking about like, you know, your favorite story and like different things we've learned along the way, you know, I thought I'd share one of the the things that came up for me that is little bit of a story and I was kind of a big game-changer moment for me and just just like this for commitment to the field. So I was on it and one of my first International trips to a program in India and we are at one of the homes of Hope out there. So we were actually staying on the property with about a hundred and fifty survivors and their kids and you know, obviously international travel. So it was waking up. The next morning, was a little groggy probably, really jet-lagged. And was raining, I remember going to his heart with India, right? Sweet. All these windows open and you can show them the rain coming down on all the trees, and I can take the pain roof. And one of the things you are most kind of starting to get my bearings and
32:25 Yeah, I could hear the rain and I started to hear this like, very kind of soft sounds coming through the like, you know, the the home that I was staying in and you know, I was listening a little bit and it's hard to get louder a little louder and just beautiful sound. I realized it was the women that were started to wake up and get together their day and they were singing and you know, it just like and it just slowly build you just kept building and building. And it was one of those moments where I just, you know, I realize that you like if they can get up in the morning and start their day by singing, right? That I can get up every day and like fight for their freedom, right? In an advocate on their behalf. And you know, the I think that was that moment of like this is what I would have my time on this is what I'm going to fight for, you know, and it just in that kind of you in those moments where
33:25 We had many of them in this field where you just feel like I'm not making the progress, I want wide and that legislation passed, like why are people getting it? You know, I just am able to reflect back on that moment and say, you know what, like it's just one day at a time. It's one step forward and that any progress forward is making changes going to help somebody, you know, and so yeah, I just, you know, I get excited about that kind of like memory and you know, how it really kind of cemented my my work in this field.
33:58 Yeah, I paid some really beautiful picture of kind of remembering that it's tiny changes over time and that it's the strength of sometimes just a few that really change can be built out sew-in in focusing on celebrating, right? So there's obviously a lots of work that needs to be done. But, you know, I think it's really important that we do celebrate the small victories and and big ones to what are some of the greatest successes in the anti-trafficking field that, you know, you think you've been accomplished in the last 20 years.
34:32 I think one of the most fun aspects of this question is when I thought about it. I thought of many and I kind of almost stumbled over my words cuz I was like, there's this and this, and that. And what you said earlier like when you're in it, it's sometimes hard to see what those are. But wouldn't you reflect over 20 years? There have been so many and I think that, you know, maybe it's because of my previous work at neck neck and being a cybertipline analyst, but I really dig in. I'm kind of like the details. And when we talked about the change that occurred in this field since, you know what, I became aware of it in 1999, starting from a really bad place of many people and Professionals in the field were calling it child prostitution. And like that's a term. That's an eighth, me victim-blaming and some people at the time even thought it was a victimless crime.
35:32 It hurts me too. Just say that out loud. And to think that that isn't as common today. Just is it to say we have no work left to do in this area? No, but I think we've come a long way and one of the most Monumental things that really achieved that definition of these kids and adults, as victims of crime was the trafficking victims protection act. You can't attend a trafficking training today for you. No law enforcement. Social workers Educators parents. Anyone that doesn't start off with that as the foundation and to see where we've been able to build? Since they're there have been, you know, legislation in the past couple years that have really involved with this crime that as it's occurring more online and leveraging Technologies in ways that people didn't predict. 20 years ago. There is new legislation that passed, you know, fosta-sesta that is working or aims to address that.
36:32 There is law enforcement and nonprofits and prosecutors working together in the Innocence Lost National initiative. These are things that, you know, when I started when I first learned about this crime, I really couldn't have predicted. So while at times, you know, when the certain thing that I'm fighting for now, feels so potentially unattainable. It is nice to reflect back on, you know, 20 years and highlight some of those changes, you know, I don't know what stands out most to you, but those are some of the things that came to mind for me, like all at once.
37:06 Damn, I I totally agree with you. I think there has been so much progress and that we could do have to reflect back and celebrate because we are, we are light-years from where we were twenty years ago. The language laws, specialized responses, the training child welfare professionals. Like I think all of those are huge and I think one other area that that strikes me to is just the, the contributions from Neuroscience, really validating. The fact that trauma, right? Especially complex trauma, and what, we now know that to be right there, early onset victimization, The Chronic nature of it, and the interpersonal nature of it, that it causes changes in the brain in the body. That are long lasting that neurons that fire together wire together. And that this is, this is really helps provide a perspective, and inform, you know, better trauma-informed, response, right? This isn't just, you know, we were talking about earlier that before we were kind of thinking recovery happens, right? And not rescue right recovery. Happy.
38:05 And people kind of like right you're out of the situation, right? You should just be able to kind of get back on your feet and you might need a little assistance here and there but you know, you're out of the situation that harm is over and science has now proven. That your brain changes write your body changes to adapt for survival. And so the cool part about that too, is not only that isn't into inform the tram inform care response. But it also Neuroscience has shown that these impacts can be reversed. And so now when we know we introduce safety and we introduce connection and relationship and love and belonging and all the things that kids should have, it can rewire the brain in a way that can can unravel some of that trauma and lead to a more healthy and productive life. So I get very excited about those contributions as well and just can't even imagine where will be in 20 years from now. That's exciting to think. Yeah. So what about next steps? Are there any gaps in the trafficking response that you think needs to be addressed?
39:05 Yeah, I think you know from all the successes and everything we've learned about this. I'm also often reminded about the things we still need to learn about and what we still need to do and I guess that's true with most things but probably again, I mentioned a previous work as a cybertipline and list the most recent Gap that comes to mind for me is about how the crime of child sex trafficking has really evolved over time and is more involved online and the increased co-occurrence of child, sex trafficking, and the production and dissemination and sometimes monetization of child, sexual abuse material that, you know, traffickers are limited by the number of hours in a day and the number of buyers in a geographical area when they're selling that child, but what they've learned is that, when they're selling that content that child sexual abuse material online. They can sell it to buyers all over the world, all the same time.
40:05 Making, you know, make additional money off, that exploitation of the child. And that as this crime is involved in that way. I don't think we've evolved as quickly to keep up to it. In terms of our response that, you know, the national Center law, enforcement and others, often have specialized teams that focus on child sex trafficking, and other teams that focus on gel, sexual abuse material, and that, you know, at times for really bad reasons, the responses to each of these crimes, you know, Kennedy different. It can be different forensic interviews, different Services, provided different, digital evidence collected, and different charges for the perpetrator or designation as a victim, you know, and when there's cross over, there isn't always that same level of crossover training. And that I'm seeing that when that cross over occurs, when child sexual abuse material, and child sex trafficking is occurring, to the same kid. We haven't evolved as well to keep up with that. And
41:05 The realization that that doesn't serve the kid as well, is really bothering me and it's something, you know that we're working to address.
41:15 Well, you've done such incredible work stasya, and I know that I am honored to know you. I'm honored to be your friend. I'm honored to be your colleague and just reflecting back. It's been so fun to just reflect back on your journey and how, you know, from being that thirteen-year-old reading Silence of the Lambs. Right has led to this incredible career that you know, his truly impacted the lives of so many so many kids, right? That, you know, will that you'll never get a chance to meet, right? But their pictures right there, Nick toaster their stories, you know, are are literally threads as a part of your life. So I just, I am so excited to see what the next 20 years, bring for you, and just know that, I just, I love being a part of your life and a part of your story.
42:08 Oh, I can't, thank you enough. You are a great partner at work. You're a great partner in a friendship. And as part of this project, I learned from you, everyday, and I did as well during this recording, even new things. And, you know, I feel like we make an incredible team and I'm so grateful to your dedication to this issue and how you prove that every day that you're there for these kids in everything, you do that, they come first is admirable and I think your team knows that about you. I know that about you and it really is empowering to the rest of us to continue doing this work.