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CHANGE

THE

STORY

Follow the journey of Emma, a 14-year-old girl, as she experiences the different stages of being trafficked. At each stage, learn how you can Change The Story by supporting BridgeNorth’s work that helps those like Emma. Together, we can prevent this crime, identify victims, and empower survivors.

What happens in Emma’s story happens to real youth in our communities every day. This holiday season, you can support those BridgeNorth serves by donating, learning, and sharing.

Emma’s Story: Stage 1

Emma, a 14-year-old girl, gets followed by someone new on social media. It’s a man; he’s older and appears attractive. He has pictures of luxurious things on his profile. She thinks he must be successful and does not understand why he is interested in her.  Emma is cautious at first, but he seems so nice and says he wants to get to know her. He comments on her photos, telling her she is gorgeous. She’s never been called that by anyone but her parents. He makes her feel confident and mature. They start talking every day.

Mainstream social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok are among the most common channels Traffickers use to lure, groom, and exploit their Victims. Traffickers prey on the insecurities of young girls, gaining their trust and collecting information on them. This can and does happen to anyone.

CHANGE THE STORY

Emma’s parents attended a BridgeNorth presentation about social media and trafficking and have had a conversation with her about healthy online relationships and recognizing predators. As a result, she knows there’s something wrong with this older man reaching out to her and does not respond to his message. 

YOU can CHANGE THE STORY by:

1. Donating to fund our prevention work this Giving Tuesday: Donation Form
2. Reading & sharing our article: Social Media & Trafficking
3. Booking a BridgeNorth presentation for your group: Presentation Form

Emma’s Story: Stage 2

Emma, a 14-year-old girl, has been seeing a man she met online for a few months. He buys her gifts, learns all about her, and talks about the future they will have together. He makes her feel loved. He advises her not to tell her parents about their relationship, explaining that they won’t think she’s mature enough to be dating him, but he knows she is. He gifts her a phone so they can communicate as much as they want without her parents interfering. She keeps her new boyfriend and new phone a secret.

Often, predators pose as friends and boyfriends, targeting young females. The average age of recruitment in Canada is 13 years old. Perpetrators often sell the dream of romance, an exciting life, and promises of love or money. In reality, victims of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation live a horrific nightmare which is very easy to fall into and very difficult to escape.

CHANGE THE STORY

Emma’s teacher notices she has a second phone. She knows Emma does not have a need for something like this. She is concerned and observes Emma closely over the next few days. After she overhears Emma bragging to her friend about what her boyfriend is texting her, she knows something is wrong. Emma’s teacher has participated in anti-human trafficking training that was co-created by BridgeNorth and knows she has witnessed red flags. She reports what she knows, contacts Emma’s parents, and gets in touch with BridgeNorth. Emma is supported to exit her relationship safely and is welcomed into BridgeNorth’s prevention program, where she learns about healthy relationships. 

YOU can CHANGE THE STORY by:

1. Donating to fund our prevention work: Donation Form
2. Reading & sharing our article: Signs Someone You Know Is Being Lured & Groomed
3. Booking a BridgeNorth presentation for your group: Presentation Form

Emma’s Story: Stage 3

Emma, a 14-year-old girl has been dating a man for two months. She thinks he loves her. One day, he tells her he is having money problems. He says he owes money to the wrong people, and if he doesn’t pay them back, he will be in big trouble. He says that if she really loves him, she will help him make money quickly. He promises that if she does this for him just once, they can be happy together forever. He drives her to a hotel to meet the first buyer.

Traffickers manipulate their victims into exploitative situations. Often, they will twist the love they purposefully fostered in the relationship, demanding that if her love is true, she will do this for him. He will make it seem like this is a one-time need, a necessary step for securing their future together. If that doesn’t work, he will turn to coercion, threatening the safety of her or her family if she does not do what he says.

CHANGE THE STORY

A BridgeNorth Advocate visits Emma’s classroom to educate students on red flags in relationships which indicate human trafficking and sexual exploitation. When Emma’s boyfriend asks her to participate in sex as work, she knows she needs help. Emma calls BridgeNorth’s Hotline and is supported to exit the relationship safely, even though the trafficker threatens her. 

YOU can CHANGE THE STORY by:

1. Donating to fund our safety planning, peer support, and case management for those impacted or at risk: Donation Form

Emma’s Story: Stage 4

Emma, a 14-year-old girl, is being trafficked by a man she thought was her boyfriend. She is a good student, a good friend, and a good daughter to her parents. Still, the stress of her current situation has made her emotionally volatile to the point where constant arguments with her support system have left her isolated. Her family is concerned, but they don’t understand what she is facing. She is desperate to get out of this situation. Her trafficker tells her he knows her parents’ address, and if she disobeys him, he will hurt them. Emma has been traumatized and feels she has no choice but to do what he wants. She is terrified, exhausted, and feels ashamed of what her life has become.

Trafficking is not a choice, but because traffickers manipulate and isolate their victims, they feel that it is their fault they ended up in this situation and are too ashamed to ask for help
. Often, all a young victim chose to do was go on a date with someone she thought cared about her.

CHANGE THE STORY

BridgeNorth is supporting a young girl who has seen Emma around town with her Trafficker. BridgeNorth recognizes that Emma is a minor caught in a bad situation and discloses this information to the police. Her trafficker is arrested, and Emma is provided support through a variety of BridgeNorth’s trauma-informed services. 

YOU can CHANGE THE STORY by:

1. Reading and sharing our article: Signs of Trafficking
2. Donating to fund trauma-informed care, peer mentorship, and reintegration support for those impacted by this crime: Donation Form

Emma’s Story: Stage 5

Emma, a 14-year-old girl, was trafficked for 7 months before her trafficker was caught and arrested. Although he was arrested, it will be difficult to convict him as human trafficking is hard to prove in court. Conviction often relies on victim testimony, and Emma, fearing retaliation, chooses not to pursue court proceedings.

The conviction rate for human trafficking cases is very low because victims fear the consequences of speaking out against their trafficker. Often, perpetrators go unpunished.

CHANGE THE STORY

BridgeNorth advocates on behalf of those impacted by human trafficking and has lobbied for laws that protect exploited persons by criminalizing those who profit from the exploitation of another. Throughout the court proceedings, Emma is counselled and cared for by highly trained BridgeNorth support workers. Emma’s strength while giving testimony results in justice being served. 

YOU can CHANGE THE STORY by:

1. Reading and sharing our on PCEPA (The Protection of Communities & Exploited Persons Act): PCEPA 
2. Donating to fund the advocacy work we do with and on behalf of those impacted by those crime: Donation Form

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