EXPOSING THE REALITIES OF SEXUAL EXPLOITATION
The commercial sexual exploitation of children is one of the worst, yet unaddressed, forms of child abuse in the United States. It happens in every city and small town; it traps children of all backgrounds in violence and trauma. Despite their abuse, victims are frequently arrested, detained and even prosecuted as juvenile offenders. In this short documentary, we meet Katrina whose childhood as a good student in a middle class home abruptly ends when she is manipulated and sold for sex by a trafficker. Her compelling and emotional story takes us from Atlanta to New York City to Atlanta again, from desperation to recovery and success. Katrina’s inspiring story reminds us that with understanding, opportunity and support victims can become survivors.
What I Have Been Through Is Not Who I Am brings together a diverse set of experts from juvenile justice, law enforcement, advocates, and services providers to speak about the traumatic effects of commercial sexual exploitation of children. They also share examples of how legislative reform measures and new approaches are helping shift our response from punitive to restorative. Katrina and experts in the field provide a glimpse of a cycle of violence and a broken system. However, the story does not end there. Katrina challenges us to see survivors in terms of their humanity, value and potential – not their past. Once we see exploited children in these terms, we realize our response to their trauma is in critical need of reform.
ECPAT-USA is proud to have partnered with WITNESS, an international human rights organization that provides training and support to local groups to use video in their human rights advocacy campaigns, in the making of our documentary.
This award winning video production will educate the public on the human rights violations of children being commercially sexually exploited. The film will bring the voices of exploited and forgotten children, adult survivors, law enforcement officers and prosecutors from across the country to the attention of our state and federal legislators. It will expose the breadth of the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the U.S. by showing how the current system has repeatedly failed these children. And more importantly, the film will highlight the need for more “safe harbor” laws, one critical part of the solution needed to break this cycle and give our children hope.
We hope this documentary will serve as a powerful tool to:
1) encourage state level discussions on improving legal protections and services for commercially sexually exploited children
2) advocate in support of existing legislation
3) aid implementation and awareness of ongoing reforms or enacted legislation.