In Our Backyard Founder and Executive Director Nita Belles is an author, a leader in the movement to end sexual exploitation, and a survivor of domestic violence. She sees the similarities between what a domestic violence victim has to endure and what a victim of sex trafficking endures. She is passionate about ending sex trafficking and works tirelessly to bring people together to end our modern day slavery.
The Super Bowl
In Our Backyard runs a number of grassroots campaigns and conducts numerous efforts to help prevent sex trafficking, as well as to recover current victims of sex trafficking. For instance, Nita and her organization have been working for 9 consecutive years to end sex trafficking at the Super Bowl. While it’s not true that the Super Bowl is not the biggest sex trafficking event of the year, sex trafficking does occur there every year.
In Our Backyard is on the ground during and in the months leading up to the Super Bowl, working with local law enforcement and other local organizations to combat sex trafficking. However, their efforts don’t just surround this one sporting event — the organization works 365 days a year to help end sex trafficking in the United States.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has a social media and activism campaign, our Tackle Demand campaign, to bring about more awareness of this issue and to send the message that sex buyers fuel the demand for sex trafficking.
Freedom Sticker Heroes
Another initiative In Our Backyard conducts in all 50 states is their Freedom Stickers campaign. The idea behind this campaign is that women and other individuals who are suffering the abuse of sex trafficking may only have alone time while they are in the restroom. Research indicates safest place for a victim of human trafficking to ask for help is inside of a public restroom stall. By joining the Freedom Stickers campaign, people can leave stickers in public restroom stalls with a number to call or text so that any victim of sex trafficking who sees it knows they can reach out for assistance.
Listen to Your Gut
Nita also addressed how all of us can identify a victim of sex trafficking in our own community. “Listen to your gut. If something doesn’t look right, it’s probably not right. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not right. Observe. Look to see if that person is able to make eye contact with you.”
She also cautioned: “Don’t try to intervene, because it may cost somebody their life, yours or theirs. But make observations. If you’re back at a distance, and you can take photos, take photos. Put the National Human Trafficking Hotline in your cellphone. I think it should be in every cellphone in the United States.”
“It’s better to call and be wrong than not call at all,” she added.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Hotline is 888-373-7888.