“Activism is working toward educating and expanding knowledge on a crucial issue that should inherently be changed in some way.”
Interviewee: Stephanie Sandberg
Interviewers: Glora D. and Jessica H., Grade 12
Interview Date: March 7, 2017
Interview Location: Demand Abolition, Cambridge, MA
Demand Abolition is an organization working to terminate the demand for “illegal commercial sex in the U.S.” The members and leaders of this organization work with survivors and other institutions such as the Boston Police Department and research professionals. Gloria and I interviewed Stephanie Sandberg. She is the organization’s network operations manager. Stephanie had a very positive attitude about her work and seemed to be extremely passionate about her role within the organization. She highlighted the importance of learning about the sex trafficking industry and speaking out against it. She described to us the team’s dedication to the organization through their intensive work and long hours.
Demand Abolition was brought to my attention earlier this year by a classmate. I was immediately inspired by the work they do. Prior to this, my knowledge on the sex trafficking industry was very minimal. As I looked more into it and talked with this classmate more about their work, the more excited I was to begin interviewing someone with hands-on experience. Throughout high school my career interests have varied. I always knew I wanted to be involved in work that provides service for other people. During my interview, I was extremely impressed and inspired by the work of Demand Abolition. In college, I hope to receive the chance to intern for this organization and potentially work for them after college. A dream of mine is to become a leader in extending this organization or another similar and help run new branches around the world to spread awareness, provide resources, and potentially put an end to buyer demand. I am moved by the courage of sex trafficking survivors and the many organizations that work with victims each day. I plan to take the knowledge I have gained from this interview with me to college and life afterwards to spread awareness and prevent buyer demand. (Jessica H.)
This interview with Stephanie was very informative and taught me a lot about the process of sex trafficking and the support this organization gives to the women. Demand Abolition is very aware of sex trafficking that occurs all around the world, and Stephanie is one of the people who communicates this problem to others to spread awareness. Not only is trafficking a national issue, it is also present in local universities where Demand Abolition tries to inform college students about risks and dangers. This organization not only gives help and guidance to men responsible for these actions, but they also make a tremendous impact on the women affected. Stephanie and the rest of Demand Abolition’s staff give hope to those returning to society looking to recover from a traumatic experience.
I feel that I received a lot of information about this organization and thoughts on how to make younger adults more informed about trafficking. Even though this line of work is not something I personally want to pursue, it offered me insight into what sex trafficking is and ways I can help women struggling with this issue. I believe that Demand Abolition is crucial organization that helps connect people to appropriate services and bring attention to such an important issue occurring everywhere. The trip to Demand Abolition caused me to really think about how one organization has the ability to truly help so many people, and it changed my perspective on how much of a difference one person can really have. (Gloria D.)
“This is a problem. Be aware of it, look out for it with your friends and with family. Be aware of it so you can speak up if you ever see anything.”
“We are working with student groups at universities. We were in the process of figuring out what college engagement strategy to work with existing student groups that are already very passionate about this issue.”
“Further on it, provide them access to us and our partner organizations, help them in crafting campus policies that would prevent this from this type of situation from occurring and that would mandate student education on it so that as part of freshman orientation students might have a session specifically on trafficking.”
“…the people we now work with in law enforcement are now so much more aware of this issue and really what it is. It’s not just a vice crime, it’s not just ‘prostitution,’ as it has kind of been considered for decades, but they’re aware of not only what the support services are, but they can help the people they encounter who are victims in this and get them directly in touch with those support services.”
“Educate yourself on the issue. Go online, go to our website and other websites and learn about not just the fact that it exists, but signs of how to recognize it, don’t be afraid to speak up about it. If you suspect that you’re seeing an example of it talk to somebody.”
“Speak up if you hear people talking about this as if it is just a normal thing that people do.”
“…it’s hard, it takes years. Often times, it’s only the women who have actually experienced it themselves who are able to then help other women get out of that and really make that readjustment back into not being a victim. I can only imagine how difficult it would be, but from what I have seen, so many of the people have just been so strong. I imagine that it takes a lot of personal strength and support from people around you.”