Marian Hatcher on human trafficking

One of the people working to end human trafficking.


WASHINGTON, February 3, 2015 — There are many among us who work every day to end human trafficking. They are not working for photo ops or Facebook posts or Instagram followers, but because they want to make a real difference.

Ending human trafficking is their life’s purpose.

Marian Hatcher is one such woman. As Project Manager, Human Trafficking Coordinator of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Marian has been at her job for more than ten long years. Under the direction of the Sheriff of Cook County, Marian coordinates the National John’s Day of Arrests in Cook County and around the country. She is also a member of the Human Trafficking Response Team.

Marian coordinates several of CCSO’s anti-trafficking efforts such as the “National Day of Johns Arrests,” a nationwide effort of more than 59 law enforcement agencies (including the FBI) targeting the buyers of sex as the driving force of sex trafficking and prostitution.

As a national expert on combating the demand for commercial sex, Marian has testified before the Illinois and Colorado legislatures, has been featured in the OWN documentary Prostitution: Leaving the Life which focused on her work as a Survivor Advocate, Ink 180 Documentary and recently Nickolas Kristof’s A Path to Appear three part documentary series which focuses on her role with law enforcement and making a difference every day.

Marian is the proud recipient of numerous awards. In December 2013, the FBI awarded Marian for outstanding assistance with their investigative efforts. In April 2014, DePaul University awarded her the Helen F. McGillicuddy Award for her work in the Advancement of Women and Gender Rights. Most recently, Marian was a 2014 recipient of Shared Hope International’s Path Breaker Award.

Marian makes a difference each and every day in the lives of the most marginalized and forgotten of society. With her positive smile, wit, dedication and heartwarming humor she manages to somehow break through the hardened shell of broken women who have been brought to the Cook County jail.

I met Marian at the SAFE2014 Conference in Chicago last year and was immediately captivated by her drive and unending energy. As a survivor of human trafficking herself, if anyone exemplifies the saying “survivors are more than their stories” it is Marian Hatcher.

I had the honor of interviewing Marian recently and to ask her a few questions:

CDN: How do you feel your own history has enabled you to do the work you do today?

MH: My history has provided purpose in my life. I have been a victim of domestic and sexual violence experiencing the trauma associated with it.

Incarceration is more than life changing – it’s surreal. Jails and prisons serve as a community of societies; mentally ill, underserved persons, socially ill and folks that have just lost their way.

Both of these profound experiences, coupled with the homelessness at times as I floated through my journey, have done away with a once arrogant individual. Once I was an overachiever only focused on completing my education and becoming a corporate success. The trauma and labeling once convicted of crimes associated with my being trafficked humbled me, made me a stronger individual and gave me a first love for myself and a zest for life that previously didn’t exist. It caused me to look at my place in the universe and consider myself a part of the big picture. I wanted to have an impact on others, know others and help others. I wanted to love my family in a way that they could understand was real and that they needed.

CDN: Why do you feel ‘survivors’ can relate to other ‘survivors’ better than others such as law enforcement or medical personnel?

MH: Peer driven approaches are most effective first and foremost because of the time honored sayings in the recovery community “game recognizes game”, and “been there, done that.” The survivor community has innate intuitive skills which have allowed for women’s survival. Our understanding springs from real life experience. We are not the police or a doctor. We are the mirror image of who they can become.

CDN: What can we all do to teach and reach young men so they don’t become traffickers or learn to believe they can ‘buy’ women?

MH: We must begin in their formative years, teaching boys to respect and value women. Schools should include curriculums that empower girls as well, so they are less likely to be victimized.

CDN: How can vulnerable population’s best arm themselves against human traffickers?

MH: Vulnerable populations must depend on law enforcement. Though not every law enforcement agency is as trained or sensitive to the issue of trafficking as Cook County Sheriff’s Police, we must still rely on the police to protect and serve. Public safety is their mission

Don’t give up make your situation known and stay safe. Don’t let your guard down, stay away from those places in society that put you at risk.

CDN: People always ask why they don’t just leave. What do you think is the biggest obstacle or obstacles keeping victims under trafficker’s control?

MH: Often the perpetrator is the only means of survival for a trafficked person. Sometimes the coercion also includes threats not only the individual but to the victim’s family. In many cases, variances of Stockholm syndrome develop.

CDN: People always talk about sex trafficking of young women, do you see young men who are trafficked? How often do you come in contact with labor trafficking victims?

MH: Yes, there are cases of male and transgender trafficking. . Labor trafficking is so well hidden, that we do not come in contact with it very much.

CDN: Another thing the public asks about is the signs of a trafficking victim? Do you feel there are clear cut signs?

MH: Aside from basic prostitution, signs of trafficking victims include lack of identification, restricted movement, history of sexual violence, and owing a debt to an individual that they are not likely to be able to pay off.

CDN: How important is the ‘survivor voice’ and experience in the fight against human trafficking?

MH: Survivor voices are critical; we must channel the talent and energy used in destructive negative and illegal activities into positive, productive, and legal outcomes.  This is critical to the foundation of developing programming that provide coping skills and diffuse the immediate urgency of basic survival concerns. Victims can benefit almost immediately. Survivors serve as role models, provide guidance with the help of skilled professionals but also create a central trust relationship with women who have a very difficult time with trust. Through shared experiences, survivors are uniquely qualified to help recovering women in ways which Para-professionals and Professionals are unable to achieve. They are available to assure that day-to-day frustrations and obstacles, which result in the desire to turn back

Abstinence from drugs and criminal lifestyles is fundamental to stabilization and successful transition for this population. Women are relational in nature. Survivors provide a wonderful opportunity to help women find alternate ways of problem solving and recreating. Acquiring social normalcy is a primary basic underpinning of this work.

CDN: What do you do in your daily work with victims of human trafficking? Do you ever see the people you’ve helped later after they have moved on?

MH: I am the Human Trafficking Coordinator for the Sheriff’s Office and a member of our Human Trafficking Response Team, which is on call 24/7, We respond to calls from the National Human Trafficking Hotline, calls from our Vice and Child Protection Response Units, NGO partners and victims.

Women come back and share their journey after our intervention and offer to volunteer or speak to the women we are providing services now.

CDN: What do you think the average person can do to make the most difference in the fight against trafficking in all of its forms?

MH: First and foremost look at political candidates and legislation that supports victim-centered services and anti-demand efforts.

Never take someone you suspect to be a victim home with you. Rather, call local law enforcement or the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

Look at victims as human beings who have suffered indescribable trauma and need mainstream society to care in order for them to have a chance at life.

Human trafficking is one of the 21st centuries worst human rights violations. And in order to make a difference in ending the demand for, as well as the creation of victims we must all work towards making a difference and seeing the big picture each and every day, just like Marian Hatcher does.

To reach Marian about her work and including your own state in the National John Day of Arrests please call 312-603-4242 and or email: [email protected]

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Barbara Amaya broke her silence to share her own story of surviving adversity, trauma and abuse to bring her message of hope and awareness to others. Amaya is a sought after expert speaker and has shared her story in various media, venues and universities like: NPR, Fox, Channel 4, More magazine, Animal New York, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, George Mason University, Sheperd University, New Jersey Attorney General's Office and more. Barbara is a featured speaker on the Frederick Douglass Family website on the advisory board of ArtWorks for Freedom and Free to Flourish, a member of several survivor groups including the NSN and a member of the D.C. Dept of Justice Task Force and the Virginia Task Force. Barbara works with SeraphimGLOBAL a Virginia non profit as a technical adviser. Amaya's memoir with publisher Animal Media, will launch 2014, she has written a graphic novel called The Destiny of Zoe Carpenter up at Amazon, Barnes & Noble online. Find updates about about her books and her work in the anti-trafficking community at her website follow her on twitter barbaraamaya4 and on facebook, LinkedIn and google + and Pinterest.