Two Hillsboro women that battled addiction have joined forces to form an event Saturday in Hillsboro to raise awareness about sex trafficking and child sexual abuse.
Highland County Join The Fight will start at 4 p.m. on the courthouse square in Hillsboro.
“Bring your children, neighbors, friends, and family to this event. We will have tables set up with info on resources in our community to help you in a time of need and to educate you on how to help this horrible growing pandemic,” said a news release provided by Brooke Perkins, who is organizing the event with Autumn Donley. “We will have public speakers starting at 4:15 to discuss what sex trafficking looks like in our community and also how addiction plays the biggest factor in it. Addiction is very much at the center of trafficking and abuse.
“We are also going to share with the community of a group formed right here in Hillsboro to prevent sex trafficking and abuse in our community and how you can get involved. The group is called ABLE (Awareness, Boldness, Liberty, Educate). We are seeking motivated, inspired, and just curious members to join us and help this cause.”
Perkins said many people, especially residents of Highland County, don’t really know what sex trafficking is about. She said both sex trafficking and child sexual abuse are too often connected to addiction.
REACH for Tomorrow, a local organization that helps individuals, families, churches, coalitions and communities realize their goals for health, healing and wholeness using the tools of Restoration, Education, Advocacy, Collaboration, and Hope, will also be taking part, Perkins said.
“It’s just to bring awareness. When you say trafficking, it’s almost like some people back off,” Perkins said. “We hope this will educate people so they can see it’s not like this thing they see on TV. We don’t know how many people might show up or how many people we might reach, but if it helps one person it’s worth it.”
Often, Perkins said, people get caught in the web of addiction that can lead to sex trafficking or sexual abuse, and they don’t see a way out.
“This is a real world problem and it needs to be stopped. People are dying every day due to addiction and sexual abuse/trafficking. People are unaware of what trafficking means and it’s getting serious,” the news release said. “As a community we need to come together and be aware of what is going on around us and we need to advocate for these precious children, precious teenagers, and precious women/men who can’t speak for themselves. So I ask you to join us in a walk of awareness, a walk to advocate, a walk of knowledge, and a walk of support.”
The walk will start at 5 p.m. and is open to anyone that wants to help. It will include people walking around the courthouse square block carrying signs to raise awareness. The event is expected to end around 5:30 p.m.
Perkins said ABLE, which is open to people from Highland and surrounding counties, hopes to find a way into local schools to spread its message. She said the organization is also looking for more people and organizations to take part in Saturday’s event.
“We are still seeking counseling centers, rehabs, churches and safe havens to donate pamphlets or to set up tables at the event… I want to offer as much information and support to our community as we possibly can because this is how we raise awareness and this is how someone seeks help,” the news release said. “Let’s be one community on Sept. 12 and rise up together to change our world our children live in one event at a time.”
Perkins said she and Donley grew up together and were both addicts at one point.
“We both quit, and we both see a lot of women who have gone through this,” Perkins said. “They don’t know they’re actually being trafficked. They’re scared, and they just stay in the situation they’re in. This is our passion. We both have kids in school and we just want to get the word out.“
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.