Last week, over 250 advocates gathered in Washington, DC for Hope on the Hill!
Hope on the Hill was a special event series in which we strove to influence federal policy makers to pass crucial legislation to end sexual abuse and exploitation. By day, we took to Capitol Hill and by night, we celebrated!
This was a three-part event series, consisting of a Briefing to Congress, Congressional Advocacy on Capitol Hill, and our Radiating Hope Gala.
Briefing to Congress
A panel of lived-experience and policy specialists provided a comprehensive briefing to Congress on the issues of online child sexual exploitation, pornography and image-based sexual abuse, and sex trafficking online. Watch the highlight video of the briefing below:
Beyond merely illuminating these complex problems, the panel offered insightful, tangible policy solutions aimed at preventing these rampant abuses.
Panelists demonstrated that the tech industry clearly can do much more to combat sexually exploitative content online, but chooses not to. For example, this is shown in the shocking discrepancy between the tech industry’s response to copyright content vs. its response to child sexual abuse material and/or image-based sexual abuse. Teresa Helm, Public Policy Outreach Manager and Survivor Services Coordinator at NCOSE, powerfully states:
“Here’s a really insane reality: If I post a 2 minute expert of The Lion King on YouTube, it will be immediately taken down because it violates the copyright law that is enshrined in our law. [But] if I or anyone in this room post sexually explicit content of a child or sexually explicit content of an adult who has not given consent, then that material circulates infinitely and is almost impossible to take down.”
Panelists included Lisa Haba, Partner at the Haba Law Firm; Marion Kendall, CEO of LifeWay Network and Co-Chair of the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition; Dawn Hawkins, CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation; Aaron Crowley, Pastor and Survivor; Arden Young, Investigative Journalist of Sound Investigations; Haley McNamara, Vice President of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and Director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation; Yiota G. Souras, Chief Legal Officer of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children; Tanya Gould, Director of Virginia Office of the Attorney General; and Marcel van der Watt, Director of the Research Institute at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
Congressional Advocacy Days
Over 250 advocates took to Capitol Hill, meeting with congressional offices and urging them to pass common-sense policy solutions to combat sexual abuse and exploitation.
We also held a rally in front of the Cannon House Office Building, in which advocates ensured our message was heard and seen far and wide.
The key policy goals we raised with Congress included:
- Ensure that Big Tech firms prioritize and uphold the safety of our children,
- Prevent the widespread proliferation of image-based sexual abuse,
- Hold accountable those who attempt to buy sexual access to vulnerable individuals,
- And more!
Radiating Hope Gala
Following our invigorating day of Congressional Advocacy, we celebrated with the Radiating Hope Gala in the evening. This gala was held in honor of NCOSE’s President, Patrick A. Trueman, as he transitioned into retirement from a remarkable career fighting sexual exploitation.
This celebration was also testament to our collective progress as a movement, and a renewed commitment to propelling us forward towards a future where all can live and love, free from sexual abuse and exploitation.
We hold the warmest respect and gratitude towards the 250+ advocates who came out to join us at this inspiring and impactful event.
If you couldn’t make it out to join us—don’t worry! There are still ways you can help and leave your thumbprint on this movement for change.
In order to elevate survivor voices, NCOSE covered the expenses for over 50 survivors to come to DC and meet with legislators. Will you consider donating to help cover costs to bring these survivors and other advocates to DC to speak truth to power?