This week, I interviewed Rachel Thomas, who is not only a survivor of human trafficking but an author, teacher, speaker, and mentor. I have known her for years. We met through Carissa Phelps (founder of runawaygirl.com) at a Joint Regional Intelligence Center training for approximately six hundred law enforcement, including members of Homeland Security, the CIA, Police Chiefs, and others. This was an opportunity to teach about trafficking and mind control, and promote a better understanding of how to treat those who’ve been recruited into trafficking by pimps and traffickers. We helped them realize trafficked people are victims of mind control and, as such, need to be treated with respect. They are someone’s child and their lives have value. They did not want to be enslaved, exploited, and abused. The average age of induction into sex trafficking is age 12. Also, they listened to Carissa, Rachel, D’Lita, and others speak and heard their stories. Carissa gained an MBA and law degree from UCLA, for example. Rachel got her Masters from UCLA. Counter to existing beliefs, trafficking survivors can and should be helped. As a result of the training, this article was published in an FBI bulletin: A Victim-Centered Approach to Sex Trafficking Cases by Larry Alvarez, M.S., and Jocelyn Cañas-Moreira
Rachel had previously read my book, Combating Cult Mind Control, during her recovery. (I tell Rachel Thomas’ story in the latest edition of Combating Cult Mind Control in chapter six.) From that time together preparing for and delivering the training, we decided (Carissa Phelps and D’Lita Miller too) to develop a program to help young women understand pimp mind control. We called the program Ending the Game.
What is Ending The Game?
Ending The Game© (ETG) is a first-of-its-kind “coercion resiliency” curriculum that reduces feelings of attachment to traffickers and/or a lifestyle characterized by commercial sexual exploitation, thereby reducing the rate of recidivism among sex trafficking survivors.
Ending The Game is designed to educate and empower survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking by providing a structure and framework to uncover harmful psychological coercion (a.k.a. “The Game”) that victims may have been subjected to during or before their exploitation experience.
By revealing a sequence of commonly-used, yet seldom-explained, mind control techniques used by traffickers, sexual abusers, media, and other coercive agents, we aim to empower victims to acquire skills and end “The Game.”
The topic of child abuse has recently been more prevalent in the news, the Internet, and social media. Not everyone is taking action, some are just talking about this online. But there are real people that are actually helping children, Rachel Thomas, myself and so many others. I implore my readers to join me in decrying institutions that hurt and traumatize children. We need to put the spotlight on those people and organizations that are actually involved in criminal behavior. For example, I have talked a few times on my channel about the child abuse issue amongst Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their doctrine and religious policy of requiring “two witnesses” and failing to report sex abuse is finally being exposed. In the UK, IICSA (Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse) is holding hearings in order to examine the institutional response of religious organizations in regards to child abuse and the Watchtower Society is one of the groups being investigated. (Watch WTIF debrief the hearings.) Keith Raniere is currently in prison as a convicted trafficker. Former NXIVM member Sarah Edmondson talked to me about being recruited into and escaping Raniere’s cult and bringing charges that led to him being convicted of 7 felony counts.
Please, if you care to protect children from institutional abuse, do something: contribute money to bona fide organizations like CHILDUSA.org, founded by law professor Marci Hamilton. Let’s work together to create positive change and save the children.
Sex and labor trafficking is a real issue that needs more exposure. Ending the Game is a commercial sexual exploitation intervention curriculum that is doing something tangible. It is training other agencies to work with survivors. It is in over 35 states with over a thousand trained facilitators reaching hundreds of survivors.
During our discussion (link below), we talk about how survivors must understand psychological coercion as a step towards really healing, along with why, even after being removed physically, the mental bonds to a trafficker and/or the trafficking lifestyle remain. Rachel shares her personal story.
- identity disturbance
- tactics of coercion and control
- the systematic indoctrination process
- how to empower survivors
- the need for more equitable human rights and justice, especially for the black community
- labor trafficking
- recruitment tactics
- musical and cultural influences that move young people to sexual deviance and trafficking
- increased prevalence of online exploitation of children
- human trafficking prevention which includes how to not get victimized by a pimp and why to not go into the sex industry
July 3oth was the United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Persons, established to raise awareness of the plight of human trafficking victims, and promote and protect their rights. We must try to use every opportunity to give hope to trafficking victims, pledge to do our part, and help end this terrible crime.
About Rachel Thomas, M. Ed.
Rachel Thomas, M. Ed., is the Director of Sowers Education Group where she and a team of educators sow seeds of sex trafficking awareness and survivor empowerment.
A graduate of UCLA with a Masters in Education and a personal survivor of human trafficking, Rachel has over 12 years’ experience in teaching, mentoring, corporate training, curriculum writing and public speaking. She has educated and inspired a wide range of audiences including teens, social service providers, churches, teachers, college students, and law enforcement. In each presentation, Rachel makes sure to incorporate three important yet often overlooked topics relating to domestic sex trafficking: 1) mind control and psychological coercion in trafficking, 2) pop culture’s glorification of casual sex and pimping, and 3) the CEO Pimp, who in contrast to Romeo Pimps and Gorilla Pimps swindles his prey under the guise of legitimate business. One of her organization’s proudest accomplishments is an intervention curriculum called Ending The Game; this curriculum is being used in over 100 facilities nationwide to help survivors break the bonds of attachment to traffickers and/or the lifestyle of commercial sexual exploitation.
Since 2012, Rachel and the Sowers Team have reached over 100,000 live audience members and millions more through numerous media outlets including New Day Morning Show on CNN, Inside with Chris Cuomo: Anyone’s Daughter on HLN, The T.D. Jakes Show, The New York Times Upfront Magazine and ABC’s Newsmakers. Rachel was also honored by Congressman Ed Royce of California’s 39th district and Los Angeles Supervisor Don Knabe for her leadership and trafficking prevention efforts.
Resume: View Rachel’s Resume
- Rachel came to an ICSA conference and we did the first-panel talk discussing trafficking as a commercial cult phenomenon. (The video of the talk is here.) On the panel, we had other incredible people including Christine Marie Katas, MBA, Ph.D. student, survivor/mentor, founder of voicesfordignity.com; Christina Arnold, Founder/Board President Preventhumantrafficking.org (2nd oldest anti-trafficking organization in the U.S.) born into the Children of God cult and escaped at age 20; Kim Meyer, PCC-S, LICDC-CS, Former director of services at Beechbrook, raised in Worldwide Church of God cult (a video of an interview with Kim and Bill Meyer is here); Halleh Seddighzadeh, Ph.D, JDc, Forensic Traumatologist, comment by Stephanie Spanos, MD, a child psychiatrist.
- Ending the Game: Explaining Coercion to Help People Heal
- Click here to watch Freedom of Mind’s YouTube playlist on Human Trafficking