Sex Trafficking in Nashville, TN Recap of Filming “IN PLAIN SIGHT” Documentary

From November 9th-12th, our team was in Nashville, Tennessee, to film a portion of the IN PLAIN SIGHT documentary on sex trafficking in the United States. Thanks to our friends at Abolition International, we were able to connect with many of the most well-informed players in the fight against trafficking in Tennessee.In between making more contacts and filming interviews, we shot beautiful b-roll footage of the city and surrounding area – much of which will be used in the film.

SATURDAY

We arrived at the offices of End Slavery TN to shoot footage of a workshop for male volunteers – training them on how to connect with middle and high school boys on the topic of sex trafficking. Developed by the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, the curriculum is designed to help high-risk, young men value the opposite sex – in their language, thoughts, and behavior – in an effort to prevent them from becoming johns (men who buy sex) or even pimps (men who sell others for sex).

Caleb Probst – Education Outreach Associate, CAASE
We sat down for an interview with Caleb who was in town from
Chicago to lead the workshop at End Slavery TN. A number of years ago, Caleb was approached by a friend to transcribe interviews with ‘johns’on why they paid for sex, and he soon found himself launching a curriculum for students in Chicago schools – empowering young men to become allies in ending sexual exploitation and violence.

Derri Smith – Founder & Executive Director, End Slavery TN
Derri is an extraordinary woman who was introduced to the topic of sex trafficking through her faith-based trips overseas. When local law enforcement started contacting her about cases in Tennessee, she knew that she was being called to address the issue in her own backyard. Founded in 2008, End Slavery TN is focused on training prof essionals to see the signs of sex trafficking, aftercare for victims, and prevention programs like the one we had the opportunity to film (see above). Derri has presented sessions on the topic of Human Trafficking and Slavery to thousands in prof essional, community and civic groups and churches, and is the 2011 regional recipient of the Soroptimist Ruby Award for Women Helping Women and 2012 winner of the Trafficking in America Service award. 

SUNDAY

If you’ve been keeping up with the vision of the documentary, you know that we want to help unsuspecting families open their eyes to what’s happening down the street from where they live. After reaching out to a number of friends in the Nashville area, we were connected with a family that we hoped might be a great example of how most people see the issue. After several preliminary phone calls verif ied that the Reid family had basic knowledge of the international issue of sex trafficking and no substantial experience with the issue in Nashville, we arranged to spend some time with them.

The Reid Family

We arrived at their doorstep at 8am, and the entire family of six was dressed and ready for church – looking bright-eyed and sipping on breakfast smoothies. We spent time getting to know each family member through conversations, interviews, and f ilming them interacting as a family. In a sense, this will allow the viewer to see a snapshot of their lives – bef ore being educated on the topic of sex trafficking on the following day. Did we mention how amazing they are for letting us into their lives?

Pete Wilson – Pastor, Cross Point Church
Founded in 2002 by Pete Wilson, Cross Point is one of Nashville’s largest and most influential churches. After developing an awareness of the international issue of sex trafficking, Pete then became educated by Natalie Grant on what was happening in his own city. Within the last year, Cross Point has started educating the congregation on the issue, and they’re beginning to help people take action.
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MONDAY

This day was jam-packed with conversations and interviews. From researchers to state government to non-profit leaders, we were given a clear picture of what’s going on in Nashville.

Lindsy Anton - National Program Manager for Demand, Trafficking in America Alliance

Lindsy has personally interviewed and researched over 400 ‘johns’ to
understand the background, mindset, and experiences of men who
buy sex. Our conversation was incredibly eye-opening as we heard
about her candid email and phone conversations. Her passion to reduce demand for commercial sex has led her to focus on research and program development.

Kate Greer – Program Coordinator, Dept. of Children’s Services, State of Tennessee

Not only was Kate kind enough to come into the office on a national holiday, but she helped us understand how neglect and sexual abuse increase the vulnerability of a child to being sexually trafficked in the future. It was fascinating to understand how the Department of Children’s Services works in conjunction with the Metro Police Department and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to protect children in the state.

James Pond – Founder and CEO, Transitions Global

James and his wife, Athena, have worked with survivors of sex trafficking in Cambodia since 2005, and in 2006, they developed and opened the first Dream Home in Phnom Penh. Clients there range in age from 13-18 years old and come from rescue organizations, government referrals, law enforcement, and other aftercare shelters. While the Ponds live in Cambodia 9 months out of the year, they’ve started consulting cities across America on how to deal with the issue of sex trafficking.

Stacia Freeman – President and Executive Director, Abolition International

Stacia and Abolition International have helped us connect with an incredible number of leaders in this field, and it was wonderful to sit down and interview her about what’s happening through their efforts. Founded in 2005 by Natalie Grant, Abolition International is focused on creating model programs, standards of care, resources for shelters and quality education for lifelong abolitionists, and they have a shelter association that helps 25 organizations across the US connect with one another for the purposes of collaboration and accountability. Specifically, we spoke with Stacia about the need for an af tercare home for minors in Nashville.

Reid Family Connects with James Pond & Stacia Freeman

After interviewing James and Stacia, we arranged for the Reid family to join us for a time of “education” on what’s really happening in the city of Nashville.As James took them on a tour of websites where you can quickly and easily arrange for a ‘date’with a girl or woman who is being trafficked, the Reids were shocked to say the least. After their conversation with James, Stacia gave the Reids a tour of locations in Nashville where men regularly purchase sex from girls who are being f orced into prostitution by their pimps/traf f ickers. Our interview at the bus station at the conclusion of the tour was a profound moment for the Reids to share what they had learned over the course of the afternoon.

TUESDAY

Before our mid-day flight back to California, it was an honor to interview two powerhouse women on Tuesday morning – both of which are seeking to bring justice to traffickers and restoration to victims.

Antoinette Welch – Assistant District Attorney, District Attorney’s Office, Nashville

Not only does Antoinette have many years of experience as an undercover officer in the Special Investigations Department (focused on prostitution) within the Metro Police Department, but she went on to become an attorney and ultimately the Assistant District Attorney. While the majority of the cases she prosecutes are focused on drugs, she is particularly passionate about the issue of prostitution and sex trafficking. As founder of the Hannah Project, Antoinette has created a day-long program (held 10 times a year) to help women charged with prostitution become aware of the services available to them.

Margie Quinn – Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

Margie is responsible for overseeing missing children, Amber Alert, sex trafficking, and other issues, and she helped us understand how the TBI (Tennessee’s own version of the FBI) investigates sex trafficking as a multi- jurisdictional crime. She noted that between 600-900 children go missing every month in the state of Tennessee, and 1 in 3 children are approached by a sex trafficker within 48 hours of going missing. The TBI’s commitment to training law enforcement and first responders across the state was inspiring, and their passion to bring justice to traffickers and restoration to victims is inspiring.

HELP US TAKE OUR NEXT STEP

Wow. We’ve already had the privilege to connect with so many
knowledgable and passionate leaders in the fight against sex
traf f icking, and we’ve learned so much on the subject. We look
forward to shooting in Baltimore in December and continuing to learn
more. While educating our viewers is important, it’s equally important
that we motivate and inspire them to take action. We believe the need
for an aftercare home for minors in Nashville is compelling, and we look forward to seeing aftercare homes at work in the other cities we visit.

We are still in the process of funding the IN PLAIN SIGHT campaign (film, album, book). To date, we’ve raised $44,000, and we’re still in need of $31,000 (or more) to fully fund the project. There are two ways to make a tax-deductible donation:

1. Give by check to:

Awaken Media
233 16th Place #F Costa Mesa, CA 92627

2. Give via credit card or PayPal.