I am Martha Kannas, Development Director at Exploit No More. Pastor Mary Martha Kannass of Hephatha Lutheran is my sister-in-law (I am married to her brother). Since we have such a similar name, we always point this out to people to avoid confusion!
The topic of human trafficking has become popular in the media in recent years, but most people don’t know what it actually is:
- Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. It is not the same as prostitution. It is slavery. Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide – including right here in the United States. They are American citizens. They are our neighbors.
- The greater Milwaukee area has one of the highest ratesof trafficking activity in the country. We are known as the “Harvard of Pimp Schools”.
- The average age of a trafficking victim is only 12-13 years old. Victims can be either gender, from any social class, rural or urban.
- Traffickers don’t abduct victims like in the Liam Neesen movie “Taken”; they groom them online or at the mall or at school and prey upon people’s vulnerabilities and insecurities.
- The average profile of a buyer is a white, married, suburban, college educated father. They can order a person online faster than a pizza.
- Human trafficking is one of the most lucrative criminal activities, second only to drug trafficking. Drugs can only be sold once,but a person can be sold over and over.
But there is hope! Motivated by the love of Jesus, Exploit No More exists to fight this evil through our four initiatives:
Survivors of human trafficking need and deserve a safe and dignified space to heal. Exploit No More purchased and lovingly remodeled an apartment building into the beautiful Freedom House. We work alongside community partners to welcome survivors and those at-risk of being trafficked to receive life-changing services in a supportive environment.
The Elevated Chef
Employment is a key pillar in helping survivors recover and in preventing youth from being sexually exploited. We operate The Elevated Chef food truck, a workforce development program specifically for this population. The food truck also allows us to be mobile in our community to raise awareness about human trafficking (while serving delicious truck-made food!).
MKE Resource Hub
The MKE Resource Hub provides thirteen local organizations (including the Milwaukee Police Department, the FBI, and Children’s Wisconsin) with personal care items for direct distribution to human trafficking survivors and at-risk youth to help them safely obtain basic necessities.
Awareness is critical to recognizing and preventing human trafficking. We educate our community through our Stories of Hope podcasts, Human Trafficking 101 presentations, social media posts, Churches Against Trafficking, and Schools Against Trafficking.
You asked specifically about the Freedom House. We are in the final stages of solidifying partnerships with some of our local colleagues to start using the house as a respite service. Colleagues working with trafficking victims and those at-risk of being trafficked will be able to bring clients to the house to take advantage of the amenities while receiving support – meals, rest in a private bedroom, a shower, laundry, computers, and access to personal care supplies from our MKE Resource Hub. We are so excited to offer this unique care! Please see this brief virtual tour of the Freedom House HERE. .
Our greatest need is ongoing financial support to continue offering all of our services. The congregations in our Churches Against Trafficking network give on a monthly or quarterly basis. Please see another brief video about church involvement HERE.
Finally, we were so proud to be included in this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article recently about the compounding factor of COVID-19 on trafficking: Click HERE.
Martha Kannas, Development Director | Exploit No More, Milwaukee, WI