ESTN Library Spotlight


by Clarice Grooms, ESTN Librarian

Book:   Sampson's Ring 

Author:  Trish Gomez

Sampson's Ring is a stupefying fictional thriller based  on true stories. Richard Sampson is a man with secrets. His former business partners, Jules and Mitch,  discover his secret world and find its one they could never have imagined.  Jules sets out to bring an evil man to justice, but in doing so she meets two young girls:

Stephanie a new resident of Franklin, Tennessee and is being enslaved  by school mates during the day while living with her unsuspecting parents by night.  Eliana is a young girl studying hard to get a job outside Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa, Guatemala. She ends up accepting an job offer in Nashville, Tennessee to help her family, but soon becomes a part of Sampson's ring.

This read will make you mindful that slavery has no class or geographic limits. 

Trish Gomez is a local Nashville area author, and current End Slavery Tennessee volunteer, whose research about the reality of modern day slavery inspired this fictional thriller based on true life events.

So What's Unique About Us?

yes we're local

By Derri Smith

Many agencies, including some in our area, focus on national and international anti-trafficking work. And that’s fabulous! I directed the human trafficking work at an international agency.

But WE focus exclusively on trafficking right here in Tennessee. Just as locally grown produce, and local businesses produce high quality, our community-based effort focuses on applying local resources to local needs. Our knowledge of the issue in this region is deep and specific.

Small is good because it takes more than a brightly-colored Band Aid to cover gaping wounds. It’s a messy and time intensive process. It starts by building trust with people who have absolutely no reason to trust anyone again.

We ‘ve developed effective working relationships with LOCAL service providers. With TBI, Tennessee legislators, regional media and other change-makers so we can bring about needed systemic changes. This collaborative regional approach WORKS.  Three years ago, for example, Tennessee’s human trafficking laws received a grade of C, but today Tennessee laws earn the top score in the nation.

Law enforcement knows and trusts us. So our Intervention Specialist- who is a survivor herself- is called and on the scene immediately to comfort and meet the immediate needs of a newly released victim.

We’re in the courts advocating with attorneys, judges and judicial staff who often know us or have been to one of our trainings.

We train thousands of local professionals every year, using specific Tennessee laws and information.

We help family members cope with their own victimhood. You who are parents or grandparents can imagine what this would do to you.

We work with partner agencies to empower youth to avoid being trafficked in the first place. This fall we’ll be bringing our ten week small group prevention program to Salaama Urban Ministries, working with parents, staff and children.

Real healing takes time, knowledge, partnerships and trusted caring people who will be there for the long haul; who will be from the beginning and stay all the way through to the other side of trauma , into healing and hope.            

And that is who we are.  

Ending the Demand for Sex Trafficking

by Shelbe Gibson Isn’t it cool when school projects are relevant? When they become something you WANT to do, rather than something you HAVE to do? I was blessed with a project like that this semester. It all came together today, leaving me feeling accomplished, productive, and ready to shout what I’ve learned to the world!

For my Senior Seminar 2 class, my partner and I were assigned to put together a men’s training event for End Slavery Tennessee. We had to coordinate the speaker’s travels to Nashville from Chicago, find, invite, and take care of the male attendees, and get everything for the daylong seminar in order. The event was intended to equip men with the knowledge to present to young boys about the dangers of trafficking, exploiting women, and what it really means to be a “man.” The curriculum was written by Caleb Probst from the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation. (CAASE). I was told beforehand that Caleb’s presentation was impressive, but he blew me away with how engaging and interactive he was while getting across his very powerful message.

My favorite exercise was simple, but impactful. Caleb asked the men to shout out words that would describe a man who has a lot of women, a man who sleeps around a lot. Words like “pimp", "player", "stud", and "lucky” were put on the list. Next, he asked them to list what words society uses to describe women who display the same behavior. The words didn’t seem to have the same positive connotation—words like “whore", "slut", "skank", and "tramp” were written on that piece of paper. It was much longer than the males' list, too. Seeing the differences in the two was eye-opening. They were partaking in the SAME acts, but one gender is praised while the other is given the scarlet letter.

This demonstration started engaging and vibrant conversation that lasted the whole day. Caleb defined sexual exploitation, human trafficking, pimping, and gender-based violence. Through popular advertisements and Top 40 song lyrics (YouTube the lyrics to Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke), he showed how much the media is contributing to the sexual exploitation of women and how warped our view of “manliness” has become. Why is it manly to objectify women? To consider them an ends to a selfish means? Sex outside of marriage, especially sex with random women for money, may provide instant gratification, but it just adds to the awful cycle of brokenness and loneliness in the lives of both parties.

No little girl dreams of growing up to be a prostitute. In a HUGE majority of the cases, prostitution is NOT a choice. That widely used excuse needs to be thrown into the trash. Girls become prostitutes because they are forced, coerced, or lured. They have been told over and over by society that they aren’t good enough; they start to believe it. Sometimes, they feel too inadequate or under-educated to have any job besides prostitution. It is an act of desperation, but still not a happily made choice. When women are failed to be shown real, true love, they are easily manipulated by pimps. If WE (the church, society…) don’t start showing them love, then you better believe that plenty of pimps out there will step up and take our place!

The Church is a body of broken people made whole by Christ. We are all broken and messy and not good enough. There are no “pretty” sins and there is not “sin scale” that makes some better than others. As the body of Christ, we need to welcome and love prostitutes and even pimps. It’s not okay to be scared of words like sex, prostitution, porn, or trafficking in the church. If we aren’t equipping our young people, the world will do that for us.

I, then, sat back and listened as these professional, Christian men talked about their struggles with pornography—how the porn industry has hindered their own relationships and how they see it destroying the lives of youth. They conversed about the unrealistic standards set by society for both men and women. What does it REALLY mean to be a man?? Are men controlling, dominating, and forceful? Is that what you want your son to grow up to be?

When fighting human trafficking and forced prostitution, it’s vital to include men in the conversation. Those conversations don’t always have to be stories of victims or hard-to-grasp statistics, either. This is a huge problem that can seem daunting and overwhelming. Where do you even start to “fix” this worldwide epidemic? Well, you start with trainings like these. You open the lines of communication, raising awareness and brainstorming ideas to help.

Fighting the culture of sex in our society will help halt human trafficking. It’s basic business—with no demand, you don’t need a supply! If we watch our language, are pro-active about not consuming songs, movies, or books that feed this industry, and share what we know with others, then we are active in this fight!! I’m positive that the men present at the training today will impact the lives of many young boys. They will prevent future johns and pimps. These volunteers will be mentors, role models, and safe places for teens who need just that.

For a more personal look into the lives of girls who are lured into prostitution, watch the video below. The narrator, Rachel Lloyd, is the founder of GEMS Girls, an organization helping girls leave the industry in New York City. Rachel, a survivor herself, is one tough cookie. I can only hope that one day I can be as impactful and bold as she is in this crucial fight against human trafficking.

Gear Up for the Ride for Refuge 2013

It’s time to build our ESTN Ride for Refuge teams!

Would you help turn a fun bike ride into an event that transforms lives?

The Ride for Refuge is a cycling fundraiser that supports over 165 charitable partners who in turn support thousands more who are displaced, vulnerable or exploited – refugees, orphans, widows, street kids, the urban poor, homeless, victims of human trafficking – the list is extensive. This fall, thousands of other riders and volunteers in Canada and the USA will raise $1,000,000 for some of the most marginalized people in our world. End Slavery Tennessee is once again one of the charities benefiting this year, and the funds we raise through our team will go directly to caring for the victims we’re privileged to serve and support.

By riding, jogging, walking, volunteering, or just fundraising, you can help End Slavery TN with:

  • Hiring a human trafficking survivor: someone well along the road to recovery to mentor new rescues, facilitate prevention groups with the most vulnerable girls and advise us in our work
  • Prevention: Empower young people to avoid falling prey to a trafficker’s traps. Intensive work with especially vulnerable girls and adding a program for boys. Resourcing church leaders to work in their church and community.
  • Victim Aid for the survivors we serve: from the immediate and urgent like food, clothing, medical attention and safe shelter to the long term, like job skills, counseling and legal aid. Some needs are large; help getting a reliable car so they can work or getting a home of their own furnished, covering initial rent and deposits while they get on their feet, or transportation to get a child to a shelter and away from a bad home situation.

These are just a handful examples out of many. Our services are available to all human trafficking survivors in Middle Tennessee: Adults and minors; foreign nationals and US citizens; victims of labor, service or sex trafficking.

The ride is October 12 at The Donelson Fellowship Church (3210 McGavock Pike, Nashville), and we’ll have free bicycle rentals available if you want to ride but don’t have a bike. No excuses ;-)

Would you help us help them? Come join in the fun (and sweat) by clicking on the link below:

Please contact Jana (contact info on the poster) if you have questions, and we hope to see you on our team!

Note: if you don't want to join, or even if you do, please consider donating to sponsor a rider or team. We do a LOT with a little. 


So What Is It You Do, Anyway?

When people think of anti-human trafficking work, they typically think of rescue and shelters. Rescues are exciting and shelters are needed and everyone easily understands why they are essential. But neither really does anything about ending slavery. If a victim is rescued, a trafficker brings in two more. And shelters are for after the fact. They are needed, like emergency medical workers are needed in an epidemic. But at some point, we need to cure the illness itself as well as identify those who have it; or leaving our analogy behind, to address the systemic causes that allow slavery to flourish, as well as identify victims so they CAN be rescued and restored. And that’s just what we at End Slavery do. Here’s an overview of our current and "in the works" initiatives:

  • IDENTIFY THE VICTIMS:  Distribution of posters, bookmarks, bumper stickers and other materials that help people identify victims/ web page with victim ID red flags

Community Watch type programs to enable neighbors to spot trafficking in their own neighborhood. Speaking to community groups. Fielding calls, e-mail, and Facebook messages and advising community members who suspect trafficking and are unsure what to do about it.

  • PROTECT OUR YOUTH: Presentation and materials for schools, inner city and immigrant service providers and other youth venues, warning youth, and those who care for them, of the tactics of traffickers.

Teen oriented web site warning of trafficking tactics with ways to share info easily with friends and to report, anonymously if desired, what is happening within peer group.

  • OPEN PROFESSIONAL’S EYES:  Training for professions likely to make first contact with victims (teachers, pastors, medical workers, social workers, legislators, apt. managers, maintenance workers etc.) 
  • SUPPORT THE SURVIVORS: We work with the FBI to provide help as needed for rescued victims and we hold events and home parties to increase venues for sale of goods made by rescued victims.
  • SLOW THE DEMAND: We teach at each session of the local John school (a school for men arrested for soliciting prostitutes), educating the attendees on how their choices feed human trafficking and slavery. Other initiatives are currently under consideration such as billboards, ads, flyers and/or other media targeted to the people buying the slave’s services or goods
  • LOOK TO THE FUTURE:  We teach in numerous college classes each semester so the next generation, the leaders of tomorrow, will not be ignorant of human trafficking and modern slavery.

We hold regular events on college campuses, spreading awareness and encouraging/equipping student involvement in ending slavery while they are still in school.

We have interns each semester who learn deeply about the issue and ways to work to end it.  In every case thus far, students continue to work with us after their internship is over and make career choices focused on ending slavery/aiding victims.

  • EDUCATE:    Through a monthly newsletter, blog, twitter, Facebook cause, and regular speaking engagements. This not only leads to victim identification, it is our belief that we can create a groundswell of outrage that will affect change makers in the media, legislators etc.
  • REPLICATE:  We were instrumental in connecting people who started a coalition in Knoxville and an anti-slavery group in Memphis and look to spreading anti-slavery work throughout Tennessee. We also train churches, and other groups, in Tennessee and other parts of the country, how to engage in ending slavery in their own communities.

This is a grassroots movement using ordinary people in all walks of life. We have two monthly volunteer groups, one in Nashville and one in Franklin. These groups further educate themselves on the issue and break into action groups focusing on various initiatives.

Additional notes:

In March 2010, an organization working among oppressed people in over 60 countries, asked End Slavery in Tennessee’s Director, Derri Smith, to help them establish teams around the world focused specifically on slavery and human trafficking. While taking on that non-paid director’s position with International Teams (ITeams), she remains committed to the work in Tennessee, as well. In fact, she is working on establishing ITeams’ first full-time domestic anti-slavery team in Nashville, which will serve as a training base for other teams in the US and around the world.

  • Derri is also currently engaged in starting/ expanding/considering anti-slavery teams in Uganda, Brazil, Thailand, Bulgaria, Ecuador, Australia, Cambodia, India and Russia.

Wanna Save Some Kids from Hell on Earth?

It’s a whole lot better to actually prevent someone from being trafficked than it is to rescue them after the fact, and it’s one of the most effective ways we can work in our communities.

Let’s think about the ways people get trafficked and what types of preventative measures might be useful.

In the case of sex slavery, sometimes girls* are recruited by a cute boy who acts like he has a romantic interest in them, a man who serves as a father figure, a girl who acts like a girlfriend or a woman who seems safe.  Did you see the movie Taken?  Remember the boy at the airport who shared a taxi cab with the two girls when they arrived from America for a European holiday?  That boy was a recruiter. 

 There are cases in which a “girlfriend” invited the victim to her home for a sleepover, then the man who was allegedly her father (but really wasn’t) popped a drug into her drink.  She wakes to find herself being raped by a succession of men. 

Often kids from abusive homes are befriended by a charmer who poses as a boyfriend.  He “loves” this girl and makes her feel special.  Over time, he says that if she loves him, she will sell herself for sex to make the money they need to buy a house and live happily ever after.  He becomes increasingly violent.  He follows tried and true methods for breaking a girl into sex slavery.  (There’s actually a manual to tell him how.  For real.) 

What if these young people—and their parents and teachers—had seen a presentation in school about the tactics and dangers of traffickers?  If we simply opened some naïve eyes, how much heartache might be avoided?

My dream is to create a presentation to do just that, and bring it to schools, youth clubs, inner city and immigrant service providers and the like.  It would take so little, to do so much good.

This project is very do-able, very affordable, and can be very effective.  Like the idea of a slave-free community?  Me too. Let’s make it happen! 

Here‘s what you can do:

  • Act in a short drama portraying the tactics of traffickers
  • Direct this drama or write the script.
  • Use your musical skills to write and/or perform a song that will stay in kids’ minds after the presentation, causing them to think twice if they encounter red flags.
  • Once polished, video the presentation so we can distribute it more broadly.
  • Take leadership. Organize and oversee this project.
  • Donate toward the cause, to "work of Derri Smith for prevention."

Contact us here

* Boys and men are trafficked too.  Because 80% of victims are female, I choose to use the feminine nouns and pronouns for victims.

A Glimpse at Grassroots Activism: The making of “Stolen”, the song and music video

End Slavery TN abolitionists recently completed participation in a project that epitomizes the grassroots nature of our work. The fruition can be found in the song “Stolen” and accompanying music video: WARNING. POTENTIALLY DISTURBING IMAGES. NOT FOR CHILDREN. [youtube=]

The process, in microcosm, looked like this:

I shared some of my Power Points, information  and the story of a local victim with a local pastor.

The pastor, Michael Reddish, talked to his congregation about Human Trafficking, and told the survivor’s story.

A musician in the audience, Brian Terry, heard the story, talked to me afterward, and bought the book “Not For Sale.”

The story inspired Brian to write the song “Stolen.” Reading the book burned the issue into his heart, inspiring determination to do whatever he could to cripple slavery.

3 Minutes to Live band members joined Brian, who is their lead singer,  in performing and recording the song. Some who heard “Stolen” encouraged the group to create an accompanying music video.

I sent word out to our network of area abolitionists and:

  • An apartment manager, Diana English, arranged for us to use one of her show apartments as a location.
  • Bill Harding, a student and colleague working with Stop Child Trafficking Now, took on the role of videographer and was able to use his school’s equipment because he made this his class project.
  • Marla Shelton, who works in the Service Learning Dept. at Volunteer State Community College, got the word out to students about volunteer needs. (Marla, and many of the students involved also heard me speak to their classes about Human Trafficking and were informed and eager for a chance to engage. )
  • These students, along with Marla and other area activists and some of Brian’s friends and family, and the band members of 3 Minutes to Live, played the parts of victims and traffickers, made signs, took out trash, created bruises and black eyes from make-up , took down and set up furniture and props and did everything else needed for this work-intensive weekend. Other team members included: Kate Harris, Jamie Burton, Tina Newman, Amber Terry, Adam Wolfe, Brittany Bertolli, Isaiah White, Jerry Martinez, Megan Mitchell,  Kiersten Joyce Butler, Leslie Zellaya, Raymond Wolfe, and Samara Williams.
  • (I don’t want to brag, but I actually had the most important role as “Official String Cheese Provider” for the cast and crew. I did make people string their own cheese. Can't do everything.)

So now we have a powerful tool for raising awareness of this heinous crime and raising funds for anti-slavery work.

But the grassroots effort is not done. Now it is YOUR turn. You determine the effectiveness of all the work done thus far.  Please send this blog or the link to to everyone you know. Or send them to our website where recipients will find the link and ways to become further informed and involved.  If you have media connections, send the video to them. Rate it on YouTube to help it get more exposure there. Post it on your social networks.

Don’t wait for “someone”  to do “something!” WE are the “someones” who can make ripples—and waves—with far reaching consequences for good. Take 5 minutes to pass this on, and be part of the grassroots movement to end slavery in our lifetime.  Thanks, team!

To Abolition!


The Perpetrators: Three Short Stories

#1 Picture a nice rural high school, surrounded by lush farm land. As is so typical  at this age, a sixteen year old girl is flattered when she is romanced by a boy at school . The boy brings the girl home to meet his mother, but instead of sitting down to a nice lunch and a chat,  the mother pops an ad up on the internet advertising the girl for sex, and drives the teen to a hotel where she is sold to 20-30 men. An anonymous tip prompts police investigation which reveals that this family team was doing the same thing with a number of other 16 and 17 year old high school girls.  This is the mother, son and daughter, who was also involved. 


#2: A 18 year old girl ,who I’ll call “Mary”,  living with her older sister, is taking a class at church and is pleased  by the attention of a woman in the class. They become friends. One day after  class, her new “friend” briefly introduces Mary to two men who, unknown to her, follow the girl home. Later in the week, when she is home alone, the men come back, tell Mary to pack her bags and come with them or they will kill her sister. She is terrified and does what they demand. For the next three years, Mary is shuttled from one location to another, to keep her disoriented and without a support system. She’s sold to be raped on average of 7-8 times a day,  while the men pocket the money. To keep her compliant, they stab her with an ice pick, torture her, beat her and continued to threaten the lives of both her sister and her parents. These are the men. 


# 3: Now picture a young woman, full of ambition, getting off a bus in a new city, needing a job and a place to live.  She’s been chatting with a young man who seems friendly and interested in her well-being. In the course of the conversation the young man says he knows of a friend who might be able to help her get a job. Grateful, the girl follows up on the job lead—and ends up locked in a motel room waiting for clients to arrive in response to an on-line ad the “friend” put on the internet advertising her sexual services. Thankfully, the girl was able to get the attention of a motel worker who called for help and she was rescued, along with three other not-as-fortunate girls being held by this young man and his father. These girls  had been dragged from town to town and sold for sex over a period of years. One of these girls, when rescued, was sobbing “I just want to see my mother!” This is the son in that father-son team.


And this one is a customer. Without him, the perpetrators would go out of business. 


All of these stories are true. But what might surprise you is to learn that all of them happened in middle Tennessee . Stories #2 and 3 took place in Nashville. The high school in the first story was in Robertson County, NW of Nashville, and the hotel was in Murfreesboro. All happened within the past year– two of them in the last few months. 

Human Trafficking and slavery is real, it's everywhere, and it's growing.  If you live in Tennessee, you WILL find it, when you look.  It happens here.   To see other victim stories, visit