It's Where I Am with Zandra Polard

Zandra sits down with a panel of powerful women to discuss the realities and signs of human trafficking in our every day lives. This episode features experts: Shatonna Nelson, Ivory Shields, and Louisa Eyler.

What is It's Where I Am with Zandra Polard?

Its Where I Am focuses on the various mental health struggles that people all around the world face every day. Each episode covers a different facet of mental health with a new special guest. It's Where I Am airs on 91.5 Jazz & More every second Saturday of the month.

Kevin Krall 0:00
This program is paid for by its where I The content of this program does not reflect the values or opinions of 91.5k U and V or the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Unknown Speaker 0:52
Good morning Las Vegas Zondra Polari with its where I am. January's the blue heart month. It is Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month. today. My guest stars Shona Nelson, ivory shields, and Louisa Isley. Thank you all for being here. Sure, Jonah. You were here last month, and I thought it was so very important to have you back. I had no idea was, you know, Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness month when I asked you to come on. But you were so fantastic. With educating us. I had to have you back. Oh, it's a pleasure. Donna, can you start by refreshing us about your story, and then I'd be we'd like to hear yours.

Unknown Speaker 1:37
Yes. Um, so when I was 11 years old, I was brutally attacked, and left in a ditch. It would completely transform my life, it will transform how I live my life. And ultimately, it will lead to the different things that I do and to in the community. Now, the traumas at that capacity definitely changes you. And for a really long time, actually take this from Louisa. I was surviving. And then one day I woke up and I was like, Nah, trying to thrive, right. Not a victim who will help some people. So yeah, that's a very small piece of it. But yeah, that's that's my story. It actually made 20 years. He tried to get probation in December and they denied. So yeah,

Unknown Speaker 2:26
I agree. Yeah, can you please tell us your story?

Unknown Speaker 2:30
Yes, thank you. So I did experience sexual trauma as a child, not with an adult, but with older cousins. And in that experience, I really did not have a clue how and I didn't realize it impacted me until I was well into my 30s. I honestly had blocked it out of my mind didn't even realize that what happened was wrong. And again, like I said, I didn't realize that it impacted me until I began working in the hospital, with patients as a as a therapist. And as I'm treating these, all of these 1000s of patients, I'm seeing a common theme in folks who are showing up with these physical manifestations in their bodies. And that common theme was some form of childhood trauma, whether it was sexual, emotional neglect, physical abuse, these physical manifestations in the form of diseases and illnesses and viruses and cancers and heart attacks and strokes. These were results of unresolved childhood trauma.

Unknown Speaker 3:42
Wow. And Louisa, can you tell us what age groups are the most vulnerable and what gender?

Unknown Speaker 3:53
Well, really all age groups, no one is outside of the risk of being a victim of crimes of this nature, the soul call them and the statistics are one in four females one and eight males really, in the statistics are that high. And one of the things that's most interesting is the date of the event carries with you throughout your life. But most times until you're an adult, maybe like aged 18 to 20. For the first time, you're able to leave your family of origin and be on your own and striving for that independent life. Many times that's the first time you feel comfortable enough to even share your story. Or sometimes what happens is you'll have your first sexual experience as a grown person, and then you'll be triggered and a repressed memory that you've worked hard to compartmentalize for years of your life will come up and you'll almost have like an out of mind or out of body experience known as disassociation. And so really carries with you throughout the lifespan until you actually deal with it. And so regardless of the age that it happens at the immediate onset of this, we'll call this critical incident or traumatic event, your body goes through these stages of grief or stages of adjustment. You know, even if you're not able to communicate it, or you're not able to thoroughly understand it, it's the shock, numbness denial, and then it's the emotional outbursts. And then it usually turns to some form of anger. And then it goes into disorganization, guilt, isolation, loneliness, and then what happens is because of that you feel depressed, and then you start to isolate. And then you have this period of forming new patterns to cope with what you've gone through. And if you're lucky enough to have a confidant or to have processed it in some way, even have journaled it out in a diary to somehow release everything. You try to repress. But you don't want to forget, because you think you might need to tell somebody sometime, or you sometimes get into new relationship, and the new relationship is good. And then you feel the need for whatever reason to communicate all this bad stuff that happened to you.

Unknown Speaker 6:02
You know, I was watching the Jeffrey surviving Jeffrey Epstein. I watched it a second time, about a week ago. And what I discovered was with them and with other cases, I was reading that the teenage girls are a big ringleader for this type of thing. Is that accurate or not? is accurate?

Unknown Speaker 6:27
Accurate in all trafficking cases? Okay, I know we're talking about human trafficking. So I want to be very clear, because a lot of it's what people don't know. And that's the problem with trafficking, right? It's not just sex trafficking, it's any kind of work or anything that people are being forced to do that matter if you're five, or if your elder elders are actually bury their traffic at a high right now, because of elderly abuse and the people in the caretakers that's coming into the home. So their money is being taken away in their cleaning up and you think this is someone's grandmother, they're cleaning their homes, and it's not. So I want to be clear, the reason we see it with and this is not from, you know, the therapists on here. No, this is from my experience and what I do on the federal level, what we're seeing is a pattern of vulnerable people. If you're a vulnerable woman, like myself, or anyone who's been sexually assaulted, you're gonna go with a woman before you're gonna go with a man. If you're an elderly person, you're gonna go with someone, rather a man or woman that makes you comfortable. want people to think that? Oh, well, it's just the women or just the men or it's a targeted age group, or that is just for sex? No, it's for work. It's for anything, any kind of cars, right? So yeah, I

Unknown Speaker 7:51
was telling my girlfriend, I said, Well, dang, I guess the massage place we go to that might be a sex trafficking place. Because they're not speaking English. And, you know, I was just like, oh, it's cheap, and they do a good job.

Unknown Speaker 8:04
Husband and wife duels, we've seen an increase in that in the past two years. I married this man, I thought he was charming. I loved him. And then he had me hanging out with his friends. And I think we're going to brothels, and we're doing all this stuff and come to find out. My husband is trafficking me.

Unknown Speaker 8:18
Oh, wow.

Unknown Speaker 8:21
So it looks different. So we all need to be aware, it's not, it's not at all what you think it is trafficking, trafficking gets very deep, it looks different. Sometimes it's drugs, sometimes it's work. Sometimes it's six. So that's why you have to pay attention to your kids into yourself so much as well to, um, you started doing nice things for someone, and they're giving you like, $2 to do it. And before you know it, you're doing it everywhere you're being tracked. People know what they're doing. You need to understand all aspects of it. Right,

Unknown Speaker 8:51
right. Oh, I'm sorry. Go ahead.

Unknown Speaker 8:54
I was just gonna say one of the things to look for is, you know, if you're talking about like domestic servants, or like, people who work in hotels, or even people who might work at a grocery store or convenience stores, you know, some of the small Bodega does, is, you know, if they say to you, oh, you know, I'm working late tonight, or one of your friends says, oh, like, I know, I could never leave this job. You look for the little subtle finds or someone becomes afraid to leave their position. And that's

Unknown Speaker 9:18
what I wanted to ask, what are some of the signs what should we look out for and public?

Unknown Speaker 9:24
I have to be 1,000% honest with you. I don't know all of the signs. But I will say the ones that you have mentioned. Those are the ones that I'm familiar with. The massage parlors, the kids coming up to you trying to sell you things, them being the lookouts you even now have men who are following women home, they're getting very bold. So all of those things that you said and and even just to add to that what I just said there Are men who are falling following women home. And to your point about the elderly, I'm seeing that as well, is becoming much more prominent, where elders are being taken advantage of. Especially, like you said, with the women, the women coming in and coming in with a more nurturing and pleasant, you know, attitude pleasant energy, and they're taking advantage of the older people. And yeah, with Atlanta being the having the busiest airport, with flights coming in and out. Okay. Definitely a hub for slave and human trafficking.

Unknown Speaker 10:46
Okay, so I've read, I find it very interesting that you are an actress, a therapist, and you also work in the community. And so what is your community work?

Unknown Speaker 10:58
Well, I have a lot of workshops, I go to schools, and I speak to girls about confidence about being able to speak up for themselves, I talked to them also about meditation and mindfulness on a very simple form in a very elementary way. Because meditation isn't always, you know, the, you know, meditation can be journaling, meditation can be writing and reflecting and being by yourself and spending time with yourself. And the reason that I like to share this with young girls, because it empowers them, it helps them to get in touch with the strength and the power that's within themselves. And when girls are empowered, they're more inclined to speak up, they're more inclined to tell people tell someone when someone is going when something is going on, like for example, with a lot of the sexual trauma with girls, that doesn't, a lot of times it doesn't, most of the time, it doesn't really start with zero to 100, with family members or with someone they know, is usually the abuser. And it usually will start with, you know, some sort of inappropriate touching or some sort of inappropriate comment. And it just escalates over time. So we can encourage girls and empower them, in educate them on how important their voice their voices are, and even their intuition, because we're taught at a very young age to ignore intuition to ignore these inner voices that oftentimes keep us out of trouble, that are, that are our guideposts, they're our navigator navigators. And so that's really what that's the work that I do in the community.

Unknown Speaker 12:49
And so I was reading the fundamental framework used around the world to combat human slavery and human trafficking, is prosecution, protection, and prevention. And this show is so important to bring awareness, especially in the month of January, about slavery, and human trafficking awareness.

Unknown Speaker 13:12
Well, most of the work that I've done throughout my career has been for sexual health awareness, and rape, education and intimate partner violence or interpersonal violence. And that acute includes vicarious traumatization, because a lot of times, you know, when you tell your story, and then you come to terms with that as being a victim, many times you have to retell that story many times to a prosecutor, to an attorney, to an a lawyer, to a judge, then maybe to media, then maybe to someone who might be working with you in therapy. And over time, every time you tell that story, you're putting yourself right back in there. And so you've sort of gotten it down to a document, that's really facts. And there's, you know, a huge school of work about converting your feelings into facts and being able to evaluate your own evidence, and it takes a long time to be able to do that. So, as an outpatient therapist, one of the things that I like to do over time with people who have been a victim is to help them to document that in their own way. So that at some point, they don't have to speak their story and be re traumatized unless they really want to, and unless they feel like they're capable of doing it, because it's sort of like that, when you're having a bad day. And you're okay, and you're holding it all in and then someone asked you, are you okay? And then the walls come down. Because what happens is, when you have a critical incident that happens in your life, maybe the first time you're in or held against your will, or the first time you had to stay late or at a place of work because someone was luring you into their web of, you know, trafficking and human slavery and things of that nature. So what happens is, that doesn't sit right with you. But then over time, if you don't deal with it within like 30 to 60 days, that acute stress from that first time becomes sort of learned tolerance for it. And then you start to repress it, and you start to deal with it. And then over time, it becomes a post traumatic stress disorder and left untreated for years and years, then that can develop into a larger personality disorder. And so the work that I do is uncovering were in that process you sit, and when it became vicarious traumatization, how long ago did you actually leave that situation? Because, for example, someone could have been a childhood victim, they could have not been involved in any type of human trafficking, or slavery or anything of that nature for you know, say, 10 to 15 years, but it's very much feeling like it just happened yesterday, because of the way they keep getting re traumatized. Every time someone new enters their life, every time they have to pick up those old wounds. So the work to separate the past, from what's happening in your life right now. And that ability to have that real healthy boundary of it's not affecting me anymore. This is a story about me, I don't need you to be sad for me, I just need you to know that it's a part of me, because you want to release yourself from that victim mentality. But you can't ever do that. Everyone feeling sorry for you.

Unknown Speaker 16:05
Right? Okay. And then so who knows the stat about how you know about abuse and children, like I think someone was telling me every one and four are abused sexually. Is that right? Or

Unknown Speaker 16:20
one in four females and one in eight males?

Unknown Speaker 16:23
Yes, thank you. One of the most

Unknown Speaker 16:25
recent another statistic to is about reported 60 to 70% of women ever reported experiencing some form of sexual childhood trauma. And that's just reported,

Unknown Speaker 16:40
right? Because a lot of times we hold it in, I am such a big advocate about journaling. Journaling is so important. Well,

Unknown Speaker 16:49
I've raised blank journaling is critical. So if you're listening to this podcast, and something's happening to you, and you may not yet be in a place where you feel safe enough that you could report it, or that you feel like you have a confidant or you're maybe not ready yet to call that number to get help or to leave, find some way to document out what you're feeling what's happening to you. Because it's important that you remember that because that's your grief. And that's your pain. And you don't want anything to take away from your ability to deal with that when you're ready to deal with it. So Google it into a doc, type it into a note, put a password on it password protected, if you have a phone, write it on a napkin and hide it someplace, you know, and save it for when you're ready. You know, but if you have the ability to journal something out and documented and put it in a safe place, do that, because that's helped.

Unknown Speaker 17:32
Yeah, okay, so you're talking more about like the facts to have those written down and available and ready for when you need them. And I was putting in some facts that even your feelings, right, right. So feelings are important. But like you said, getting those facts written down, you know, just jotting down what time did it happen? What was I wearing? Who was it? You know, what I mean? Who was it, what they look like, or whatever, you

Unknown Speaker 17:58
know, even little things like what you remember, okay?

Unknown Speaker 18:01
Just write it all down. Whatever you're thinking, just write it down, right and

Unknown Speaker 18:06
doesn't even have to be in sequential order, just random things that you remember, you got to catch this off, like butterflies that are flying by because, you know, later in life, they're going to be the things that are going to set you free.

Unknown Speaker 18:16
Sure, right. Add to that, that's a great way to move the trauma energetically out of the body. Because when we experience those, when we have those traumatic experiences, that energy is it and we were not able to respond authentically. So meaning that if you're in a traumatic situation, you can't scream, you can't run you can't get out of it is happening to you over and over again. The natural or normal response is to get away from that. And so you have to hold those things in and that energy, that trauma has to go somewhere and crystallize in the body. And so doing the things like the journaling, the yoga, the meditation, the writing the exercise, I've had clients go out and write things down and bury them is just a way to really get that energy out of your body

Unknown Speaker 19:16
or something. That's too because we have an issue in all communities. And this is what unites the communities of trauma. You don't know you're been traumatized. And the problem is we talk about the healing process. We talk about what do you do and all of it but we don't talk enough about what it looks like. And we're running into a problem. In all communities where we don't know what these things are. We don't know that we've been traumatized until we're in our 30s Or it's as small as the wrong type of touch on your arms. trauma can be the words that spoken to you. Someone can look at you and you can feel trapped test if you want to be honest, you have emotional, we have physical, we have mental aspects. And it's really so important. If it whoever's listening to this, this is the thing. It's time to begin educating ourselves on what trauma trafficking, sexual assault, mental abuse, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse look like. Because those are those things make us vulnerable, right? So if you grew up in a house like me, I have religious family, that is a preacher. So when you get touched by the cousin, you probably not gonna go tell anybody because you hate yourself more than you hate your abuser. And it's time we started talking about stuff like that, right? We the only way we heal this is if we know had a conversation with my little sister. I'm like 10 years older than my siblings, about trafficking. And her she was like, What are you talking about, if they not being forced to have sex, it's not trafficking. And I said, Sit down when you talk to you see, because the thing about is, even if it's not a sexual assault, if you're you're working for $2, for $2, because you're scared someone's gonna post about you on social media, you're being best tracking, if it just is it can look like social media, I'll post this if you don't do this for me. If you don't say this for me, then I'm gonna take your money, or they already have access over all your money because you're a mad person. So you're being forced to clean up the house and do things sexually, that maybe you don't want to do. So until we start talking about these things and say what they are, when we say the word someone says to you, you're sitting around a table with a whole bunch of adults, and they're talking about six, open, lovely, open and ridiculously and you're a little bit of kid, you're traumatized. And until we start talking about what these things actually are, we're not going to stop trafficking, we're not going to stop sexual abuse, we're not going to stop any of molestation, none of those things are going away. Even the lesbian granddaughter who is ashamed, because when we shamed her because she's decided to be lesbian in a spiritual home, but she's also getting touched by the ankles. So she's dealing with her feelings. And with that, it's time for us to start acknowledging what trauma looks like across the board is not traditional is not black and white, need to look it up, you need to know what it looks like all of these things look like or that matter if, if anyone's making it to therapy, because I can assure you, we have 50% more who are never going to get to therapy, because they don't realize they're being traumatized. So they have heart conditions and in migraines, and that means it shows up physically, from the fact that you don't even realize you're a victim, because you have to be a victim until you sit with it. We don't talk about that enough. So if there's anything that anyone got out of this, Google is accessible, false accessible, phrase accessible, let's and 2022 I'll hold ourselves accountable for teaching someone what trauma is not just human trafficking, but for actually acknowledging all areas of what trauma looks like what victimhood looks like, therefore, we can heal. And that's something we can all unite on no matter, creed, religion, or whatever.

Unknown Speaker 23:15
And you can provide that information on trauma, and what some of that stuff looks like, without asking anyone to share their story. That's important too, because someone will share their story when they're ready to share it right. They need to internalize that first and come to that reconciliation that, oh, I was abused. I was held against my will. I was a victim of that. And so but that's not for you to decide. They have to decide it.

Unknown Speaker 23:39
Absolutely. And I really appreciate appreciate Sharona, and I've read you guys, you know, letting us know your personal story so that others can hear and know, you know, or relate to, you know, some of the things that you all have been through and recognizing that they are, you know, having the same experience. I mean, that's what the show is all about. It's about awareness. It's about resources, it's about getting help. If you've missed anything that these wonderful women have said, You are absolutely able to go to my website, which is www dot Its where I You can find the show there and rewind it as many times as you need to and write down as much as you need to. Okay, ladies, are there any final thoughts? Is there anything you want to make sure our listeners know any more information they need to know about yourself, or slavery and human trafficking?

Unknown Speaker 24:39
I would just say that the website ag dot and human trafficking has a pretty robust website on some of the signs and some of the places to get help. Okay, so I certainly would suggest even just Googling simple, human trafficking signs symptoms or to get help. And I think that that's something that any One can do.

Unknown Speaker 25:00
And I just want to piggyback on what sheetala was saying it's time for us to really start having these conversations around trauma. And even to peel, peel that back another layer, having the conversations about the energetic ramifications. And helping people understand that the trauma and the effects of trauma, not just affect the abuser or the survivor, it affects everyone, it affects anyone within their vortex one thing about the law of physics, one thing about it, every living thing on this planet is not immune to the law of physics, in particular, the law of cause and effect. So whatever seeds is are being planted by abusers, you better believe that that that harvest will come back, and it will affect them, whether it's them personally. So abusers may think that they have gotten off because they are not in jail because they're their victim didn't tell on them. But you better believe that the law of cause and effect says that it will come back to you. And it may affect someone in your vortex, it may affect your offspring, it may affect your husband, your wife, your spouse, someone around you someone in your vortex, so that energy will come back to you. And it's really important for us to start having conversations around sex and normalizing healthy conversations about sex in our community. Just in just this, this is my my closing. Tisha tunnels point in, in our culture in our community in the black community, religion has really done a great job at programming us to not have these conversations to shy away from these conversations. And I really think that there's value in us really taking a second look at how religion has shaped us and programmed us and asking the question of is it serving us? And if and if so, how can it serve us better? Because I personally don't feel like we're in a better situation. And so we have to really be honest with ourselves and ask those questions.

Unknown Speaker 27:22
Should Tona

Unknown Speaker 27:24
Chow Yeah, got me in trouble and low. But everyone knows by trade, I am a strategist. So for me, anything that I see, I want to create some type of strategy to get to the point, right, that's that's the purpose of life. As much as I enjoyed that with politics and with business and things like that, we do not explore that enough. On the other side of things, the things we can't see our emotions and our mental health. So if there was anything that I would say in closing is, it looks different for everybody. Healing looks different for everybody. Mental Health looks different for everybody. Trauma looks different for everybody. What was traumatizing to one might not be for another. So what I want you to do is listen to this and hear the words. But also understand if what you didn't hear could still be trauma, what you didn't hear could still be ways to help you. You can find me a ton of Jay Nelson, everywhere on our social media and fatahna is my website or the find is our PR as most of you will probably know me more from that side of things. And if I can help you reach out, you may not speak with me directly. But I can assure you, someone from my team will reach back and they will help you. And again, I stress this so much. educate yourselves on what it looks like. And understand you will never hear everything you need to hear for your trauma and for your well being. It is a self journey. It is self built. It is catered directly to you and who you are. And I encourage everyone to find support. And if you can't find support, then make new support gets new friends and you can add your family and friends and things like that. But life is meant to be connected and you are not alone. Been there done that right and will still be been there doing that. And all of us will be somewhere doing something at some point. So I encourage you to keep fighting and keep looking for strategic ways to come out of your dark places.

Unknown Speaker 29:35
And the first strategic way is if someone tells you a story about their life, regardless of how obscure, unbelievable it may sound, the most important thing that you can do as a friend or family member is to believe them. And then you can educate yourself. You can go to human trafficking If you're in a space where you can't make a phone call and you can only tax and do transcription, you can text to 33733 and that will get you to the Human Trafficking Hotline also. And just seek help when you feel it's ready because you are the expert in your own situation. No one can tell you when it's safest to leave. No one can tell you when it's time to do what you need to do. So know that you are the expert in your own situation.

Unknown Speaker 30:22
And if you can call the phone number is 888-373-7888. And that is the National Human Trafficking Hotline. 888-373-7888 Ladies powerful show. Thank you all for being here. Sorry. It started out a little bit rocky you guys have me nervous today. I knew I had some strong women coming in here. Bring it some great information. I thank you. I invite you to come again. And thank you for being on it's where I am.

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