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To honor victims of human trafficking, GHOST and Genesee County Human Trafficking Taskforce host candlelight vigil

Written by Tanya Terry

Members of the community stood in solidarity against human trafficking on Jan. 31, the last day of National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, at the Genesee County Jail.

One human trafficking survivor addressed the crowd.

“I was trafficked from birth to age 3,” she said. “I went into foster care and bounced around homes due to behaviors form the trauma I endured. At that time, I had no voice to vocalize what had happened to me. A lot of it was just suppressed memories due to my age, which came out in negative behaviors. It took years for me to understand what happened to me. I spent nine years acting out because I didn’t know any other way. It wasn’t until I was placed with my forever home that I learned how to walk through it because I was given a voice. My adoptive parents always told me: ‘When you help a child, it helps. But when you help a child and lead them to Christ, it heals.’ I am healed because He is bigger than my abuser.”

The young victim referred to I Corinthians 6:18, which advises fleeing from sexual immorality. She prayed for the victims, survivors and the sexually immoral. She prayed protection over those who had been denied their right and asked God to help make sure they could escape their chains, while comforting them. She also prayed the sexually immoral come out of darkness and repent for their actions.

Pastor Christian Tipton from Tipton Ministries, a local ministry, also prayed over the vigil. She prayed to God for strength for those who were still able to fight the fight for those who had lost their lives because of human trafficking.

“We’re here to claim victory,” said Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson.

He asked that although January was proclaimed National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, that those who were able to help prevent human trafficking do not quit doing so after January.

Swanson described an incident in which a victim was being kept in a bathtub and was stabbed by her trafficker when she didn’t perform. The incident opened eyes to the fact human trafficking happens here.

“GHOST started in 2013 because ‘Nyse Holloman hollered out and said we need to do something more,” Swanson stated. “We had just one or two people working human trafficking here in the county, and those federal agents had moved on to different things. We picked up the mantle.”

Nyse Holloman is the CEO and president of Voices for Children Advocacy Center and chairs the Genesee County Human Trafficking Taskforce.

Swanson said now GHOST works with DHS, the Probate Court, the State Police and with school districts, as well as with the FBI.

“Our operations and our friends at Voices have put 180 predators behind bars.”

Swanson said in the coming week, he would meet with the National Sheriff Association in Washington, D.C. They have expressed interest in rolling out GHOST to 384 sheriffs across America.

“This is a collective, and it’s a beautiful thing to see.”

A moment of silence was offered for victims of human trafficking.

The United Way of Genesee County, Center for Hope, the Michigan State Police, Voices for Children and The Prison Project were also among the organizations present.

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