Getting the Word Out

by Karen Karpinski

Fake Massage Businesses at a Glance - Excerpts from Polaris Project

In the past week it would have been difficult to ignore or be unaware of the Massage Parlor stings and arrests taking place in Franklin and Brentwood.  It has also not been that long since we were talking about another bust in Green Hills.   Various people have commented about how shocked they were since these are in the wealthier areas of our community.  In reality, that’s exactly where such places are normally located.

Fake massage businesses operate as commercial-front brothels to offer legitimate services such as massage and spa services.  They are distinguishable, however, from other legitimate massage businesses in that they provide commercial sex to customers.  They frequently operate in strip malls and office buildings and advertise in mainstream public venues such as newspapers and magazines as well as online sites like Craigslist.  But unlike legitimate massage businesses they often utilize cameras to screen and monitor clients as they enter the establishment and may have locked doors and use a buzzer system for entry. 

Fake massage businesses operate as an extensive, sophisticated organized crime networks with multiple controllers who act in connection with each other.  The various actors within the network include:

  • Behind the scenes business owners who set up and finance the business
  • The Brothel Keeper or “Mamasan” who manages each individual location
  • “Kitchen ladies” who function as a helper to the mamasan
  • “Secondary brothel keepers” who function as a future mamasan
  • Informal Asian “taxi drivers” who work for the network as transporters
  • Recruiter and smugglers
  • Attorneys who are paid by the network to represent an actor in the network in any legal matters

Women found in these businesses typically live on-site, 24 hours a day.  They are rotated at a certain frequency and they stay inside for practically the entire time while at a specific location.  The victims are most often Asian women who come to the US on both valid and fraudulent visas, or may be undocumented and smuggled into the country. Rarely do these businesses include minors. Not all the woman meet the standards of human trafficking, but in general businesses control these women through psychological abuse, threats, documentation confiscation, isolation, debt bondage and occasional physical abuse.

Clients are generally any age or nationality and are often middle to upper class professional males.  A massage business with an all-male clientele is a strong indicator that commercial sex may be taking place.

Vigilant volunteers and observers can continue to bring these businesses to the attention of law enforcement and be responsible for the rescue to women who are unwilling participants.

Human Trafficking Haiku

Lonely and depressed,
inadequate and worthless.
Please, even one friend?

Online chatting fills
this void in my heart.  He says
that he “treasures” me.

We plan to meet soon.
Friday at a street corner.
We’ll ride in his car.

So, we meet at eight.
But his face does not show the
worth he made me feel.

I’m locked in the car.
Not one man, but two up front.
Confusion and fear.

Later, a basement.
Both my body and my soul
in chains.  I am drugged.

If I tell, they kill
my family.  No escape.
Stuck in a nightmare.

Selling my body,
twelve times a day.  What happened?
Acceptance and love?

I feel as if I
merely watch myself living
this hell in a dream.

Reality.  My
reality.  Forever.
Hope does not exist.

But wait, too good to
be true.  He is arrested:
the man who constrains!

I have never been
so glad to be taken.  I
go to a shelter.

Seven years of dark.
I am now given freedom
to speak, act, and live.

Freedom, choices, life.
Never valued these more than
now.  Goodbye to force!

For rescue, refuge,
safety, my forever thanks
to End Slavery.


Getting the Word Out

by Karen Karpinski, Director of Education

I am often asked by pastors and other church members what they can do to help end human trafficking. I would like to reply, “Are you teaching about human trafficking?” Sadly, the parents of a minor lured into human trafficking we recently met with, would not need much urging to learn about what is called human trafficking, modern-day slavery or sexual exploitation. They would not even have recognized what was happening to their child, who grew up in the church, had not one of our trained volunteers recognized the signs and connected them with ESTN.  Too many others may be the ones sitting in the church pews each Sunday, oblivious to the crime which is ensnaring many of the minors in our state – until it is too late.

While there are many approaches for churches to assist in the fight against human trafficking, one of the most important one is to prepare their parishioners with the truth.  There are many churches that have already partnered with ESTN and do discuss human trafficking.  Some have allowed us to do youth presentations, empowering young people to be safe through the knowledge of the basic lures traffickers use against them.  Others have provided financial help through donations and gift cards drives.  But there is more that can be done.

We have very real needs for emergent housing for our survivors.  We would love to develop more relationship with churches that could pay for several months’ rent, or would provide a furnished apartment- or two.  There is also a great need for foster parents to house and love a minor survivor. Training can be provided to teach families the behaviors to look for and how to respond.  What better way to show our faith than to unconditionally love a girl or boy who has never known a love that expects nothing in return?

Yes, churches can provide rescue and food kits.  They can encourage their youth to do door hanger campaigns, or start a gift card drive to help with survivor needs.  But the most urgent need is to share our Christian faith by loving a child who has been so drastically hurt.  Churches, we need you!

How well-meaning efforts can be harmful to survivors of trauma


Written by Holly Austin Smith, author of Walking Prey.

PHILADELPHIA, April 21, 2014 — Human trafficking is one of those issues that cuts deep into the hearts of men and women across the globe, and many have vowed to take a stand against it.  As a survivor of child sex trafficking, I continue to be moved by the passion of advocates to prevent trafficking of persons and to protect victims.  Many advocates have volunteered their time, money, skills, and resources toward awareness events, educational projects, and fundraising efforts for service providers and other organizations; and I am deeply grateful for their sacrifices. However, those taking on roles of advocates must understand that survivors of trafficking and other forms of exploitation are under no obligation to do the same.

Just because a man, woman, or child has survived human trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation does not mean that this person is obligated to share that experience or sacrifice his/her time, money, expertise, or resources for the sake of raising awareness, educating or training professionals, or for any other reason even if that event or project is funded and carried out by unpaid volunteers.  Volunteers have been given the choice and opportunity to participate without pay, and survivors should be offered the same.

When a survivor is asked to share his/her story on camera or before a live audience, this person is recounting and thereby reliving that trauma again and again.  Therefore, a survivor is sacrificing not only his/her time, travel expenses, and work loss, but also he/she is potentially sacrificing his/her physical, emotional, and/or mental health.  When organizing an event or project and inviting survivors to share their stories, the organizer must, at a minimum, offer a survivor speaker/participant compensation for his/her travel expenses (and work loss, if requested); this can at least ease the difficulty of sharing such an experience.  Travel expenses include lodging, airfare, train tickets, bus passes, taxis, shuttles, parking fees, tips, car mileage, tolls, baggage fees, food, and any other fee associated with the effort to attend or participate in that event.

I must also stress to event organizers and project coordinators that survivors have more to share than just their stories; they have insight, expertise, and perspectives on the issue that need and deserve to be heard.  A survivor speaker/participant should never, ever, be pressured into telling his/her story; neither should the survivor ever be bullied into sharing more of his/her story or expertise than he/she is comfortable.  If the event organizer is paying that survivor speaker/participant for their time and expertise, then the level of participation should be negotiated according to that survivor speaker’s consulting fees and written into a contract.  This payment should not include those fees associated with travel expenses; again, travel expenses should be a mandatory minimum requirement for survivor participation.

Survivors often volunteer their time and resources in various ways to help the anti-trafficking cause as well as other causes that may not evoke as much physical, mental, and/or emotional pain or drain on them.  Nobody has the right to determine whether or not a survivor has done or is doing enough for the cause; and anyone who passes such judgment on a survivor is part of the problem.  If an advocate cannot afford to pay for a survivor’s travel expenses and work loss, then that advocate should seek other ways to bring awareness to the issue without a survivor’s story or participation.  If an advocate is seeking participation from a survivor speaker who requires consultation fees and that advocate cannot afford those fees, then that advocate should raise the money or find another way to bring survivor insight or expertise into the project.  There are books written by survivors, articles, and interviews online by survivors; survivor experts have often already sacrificed their time and resources to write down their ideas in an effort to further the anti-trafficking cause.  Advocates must be resourceful and creative in their anti-trafficking efforts.  Never, ever, bully or pressure or attempt to guilt a survivor into anything.  This is exploitation; this is exactly what we are trying to abolish.

I bring this up because, after years of working with compassionate and sensitive advocates, I have had a few limited but negative experiences in this regard.  Survivors must understand that they are not obligated to share their stories with anyone for any reason, and advocates must stand up for the rights of everyone, including survivors, even if it compromises their own anti-trafficking efforts.  Exploitation for the sake of preventing exploitation is not helpful to anyone.  Any contracts between survivor speakers and advocates should include clauses for those cases in which a survivor cannot or will not move forward with a project or event.

When it comes to collaborative projects in the state or community and any legislative efforts toward prevention of trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation and protection of victims through various services, I constantly advocate that survivors must be invited to the table – not to share their stories, but to share their perspectives and expertise for the benefit of greater society.  Without survivors, there is a very important piece of expertise missing from the conversation.  With that being said, it is often the case that survivors are employed outside this field of work and are therefore taking time unpaid from work to participate.  Survivors deserve to be paid for this time.

If the overseeing organization(s) is unable to pay survivor experts, then they should brainstorm ways in which to raise the funds.  Many community members, organizations, and agencies are willing to donate money toward anti-trafficking efforts; one way in which these funds can be used is to pay survivor experts for their participation in community, collaborative, and legislative efforts.  Again, just because a person has survived an experience of human trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation does not mean that this person is obligated to work without pay.  Be sure that, when working with survivors of any type of trauma or crime, that this relationship is collaborative, compassionate, and professional –not coercive or exploitative.

ESTN Library Spotlight


By Clarice Grooms, ESTN Librarian

BOOK: Renting Lacy

AUTHOR: Linda Smith

The book Renting Lacy takes the reader inside the world of prostituted children around the world and in the United States. At the forefront is a child victim named Lacy who is trafficked by her boyfriend/pimp. The story alternates between several teenage girls who are forced out of their childhood and into a demoralizing existence ; girls with dreams… and prostitution is not one of them.

Author Linda Smith left politics and founded Shared Hope International, an organization on a mission to rescue and restore women and children in crises.

Getting the Word Out


The third and final segment of our T.A.P. programming is Prevention.

Prevention is the “P” in T.A.P. and is multi-faceted.  Our Be the Jam website (  is a site for minors where they learn the lures most frequently used by traffickers to entrap them.  The information seeks to not only empower youth to be aware and to practice safe behavior, but also teaches them to look within their peer groups at the actions and behaviors that attract a trafficker to those vulnerable around them. We take those same videos from the website and incorporate them into a 30 minute video narrated by young people which presenters take into schools, community organizations, faith-based and other general youth audiences, recognizing that all minors are at risk.

Another important part of our prevention program are our 10-week intensive small groups for high risk young girls. This program is used with high risk teens who have already experienced abuse and/or trauma and therefore are especially vulnerable to a trafficker.  We work with the host organization to help get the best possible care and the resources they need.

A similar program for your boys in high risk environments will be offered soon, teaching boys to think about the cultural elements that are shaping their thoughts and actions.  We also teach at the Johns’ School for men who have been arrested for soliciting prostitutes, teaching them how their demand feeds human trafficking.

End Slavery is a “single point of contact” for law enforcement, attorneys, social service organizations, family members and concerned citizens who encounter trafficking victims in Middle Tennessee.  We are the only organization in Middle Tennessee focused solely on human trafficking and providing direct care for survivors in our region. We sit on the Governor’s Tennessee Human Trafficking Task Force, helping develop a state-wide plan of care for survivors of human trafficking, as well as the Federal Human Trafficking Task Force.

For additional information, visit our website at or contact us at 615-860-6899.

Ignoring Child Sex Trafficking Doesn't Make It Go Away


by Philipa Booyens

We had a woman recently unsubscribe to our mailing list. Her reason? She said she couldn't look at "this." She couldn't see or deal with "it."

My response: (See photo)

8day 2

8 DAYS opens with these words:

(AMBER)  Darkness breeds darkness. It hides monsters in closets and under beds. I used to think closing my eyes and covering my ears would make them go away... I used to think a lot of things.

When I was a child, I used to think such childish things. I'm not a child anymore. Child sex trafficking (what many in Homeland Security Investigation call MODERN SLAVERY) should NEVER be easy to look at. But, here's the thing: ignoring, hiding, closing eyes and covering ears will NEVER make it go away. This kind of thinking, this apathy and fear has led our culture and county to the place it is in. A place where three year old children are sold and raped repeatedly. A place where traffickers molest and move children over our southern border, requiring every girl over 10 to take a pregnancy test. Today in the United States of America children are sold by their families. Girls are locked in closets for years. People are beaten and abused, kidnapped, murdered, branded, "owned" and treated likes slaves.

Don't like it? Don't want to look it? Good. NOW DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

Individually, if we bless one life, we are making a difference. Together, we can change the world. I believe that. I know that. I've seen that through this filming process. Margaret Mead once said: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Let this be a call to all "thoughtful, committed citizens." It is up to us to fight the crime of child sex trafficking, Let's stop hiding and ignoring this problem that is right under our noses. Let's stop "waiting on the world to change," and make it!


Philipa Boooyens is the screenwriter for 8 DAYS ( and the Creative Director for After Eden Pictures (

South of the City


On July 19th, local musicians, artists, and their fans gathered at the Brentwood Contemporary Music Center for a night of music and human trafficking awareness!  South of the City, put together by End Slavery Tennessee’s friend and hero Andrew Yontz, was a benefit concert for our organization with the purpose of bringing together local talent to help raise awareness and funds to fight the sex trafficking taking place in Nashville.

southofthecityWhile the audience’s ears were filled with moving song lyrics and harmonies, they were also given the opportunity to take part in live art – taking trash and scraps of unused paper, writing inspiring messages, prayers, and quotes for human trafficking survivors on them, and then pasting them to a canvas. The piece was then given to ESTN to hang in our office for every girl and survivor who passes through our halls to read.  Another art piece was also created live by Christi Getzen Schroader throughout the entire event.  The piece was entitled "We Are Not Finished."  More of Christi's work can be found at her website, Light Beneath. Other artistic talent for the event included the musicians of Jorand Minton, Cammie York, Flying Colours, and Old Friend.southofthecity art

Andrew kept the event hopping with raffle prizes, an upbeat atmosphere, and excitement! “I hope everyone who attends this event will feel equipped and inspired to find a cause in their life they are passionate about and do something about it through their gifts and talents,” said Andrew.

Derri Smith also spoke during the session and explained the mission of End Slavery Tennessee She shared the story of one of our survivors who is ready to have a voice!

Extra thanks to Andrew for all the work he did for this event, all the musical and artistic talent that preformed, and the supportive individuals who made the night a grand success!