Rachel Lloyd is like Mother Teresa with street cred. Her life is dedicated to service, and because of her commitment to young women, she is changing lives, changing laws, and changing the world.
I recently had the chance to interview Rachel when she spoke at UNCW.
Read about a new center in Wilmington to help sex trafficking survivors or
Read about a group trying to get schools to teach about the sex trade
She's actually received major props, like being named one of "50 Women Who Change the World" or a "Notable New Yorker." She's met countless celebrities (hello, Beyonce!) and she's even spoken to the United Nations. This woman is my hero, but even she'll tell you there were times she thought she didn't deserve a single thing.
You see, Rachel Lloyd was trafficked as a young woman throughout Europe. She didn't wake up and decide to be in the sex industry. She fell in love with a man who she thought was her boyfriend. Turns out, he was a pimp. He sold her, beat her, and finally nearly killed her before she sought refuge at a US military base. It eventually helped bring her to New York.
She founded a group called Gems. It helps young women escape "the life". And, believe it or not, these are American girls like your daughter, your sister, or your friend. These girls have a lot in common... most were vulnerable in their early years (what teen girl isn't vulnerable?) Some man showed them love, and then after a certain time, he forced them to start working.
Rachel tells her stories and many like hers in a book called Girls Like Us. I am reading it now.
Things I am learning: Sex trafficking often intersects with prostitution. How? Because it all comes down to pimp control. Most prostitutes do not work for themselves, and instead, are beaten, raped and forced to sell their bodies. They usually are given little to no money and are under the constant threat of their pimps. Their pimps have taught them to distrust law enforcement, and they've seen how the system has failed to protect women like them.
Who are these women? They typically start out as girls, around 12 or 13, who have had some sort of childhood trauma. They are vulnerable. They meet a man who offers them love. They then grow into this lifestyle thinking they are not worthy of much more. Some of them may also be confused and in love with their pimp. Afterall, he has controlled them since they were girls. And, then when they become of age, no one cares for them because now they're considered adults.
Read about a Wilmington high schooler involved in a sex ring
The problem: Our perception, among many other things. We understand that if a 40 year old has sex with a 13 year old, there's a law broken. But in many states, 13-year-old prostitutes are locked up and treated as criminals. No one ever thinks these girls have been manipulated, beaten, raped, etc... In many cases, these women are domestic abuse victims, but because they are sold in the sex trade, we as a general public, have no sympathy for them. Watch the Showtime documentary "Very Young Girls".
The solution: One step is to change laws. Rachel has been instrumental in bringing Safe Habor Laws to states concerning underage girls who have been forced to work in the sex industry. I can nearly guarantee that we will see legislation like this in North Carolina soon. It's just one step, but it should be on your radar.
Thanks to the folks at Wilma Magazine, you can now get in free to the Wilma Expo at the Convention Center this weekend! The deal ends tonight... so hurry! Register now and use "michelleliwilmaexpo" as the promo code! Here's how if you get confused...
Have you ever been to Wine and Design? I love it! We went for the first time a few weeks ago. My husband even got a kick out of it! (Do you think he made me look like a cyclops? Maybe just a little bit?)
We had so much fun! You can bring your own snacks and wine... and then the instructor helps you paint! You don't have to be a good painter. I was really nervous about it, actually... but I'm going to go back and paint a picture of my dogs!
More people are popping into our Google Plus Hangouts - including journalists! We've had a couple who want to be more interactive and are asking us how we can help. I love it! Not everyone can say they like their co-anchor, but Jon Evans and I get along so well... I'm so glad that he likes to hangout!
It feels more cool to be in a hangout, than to re-watch it, but I wanted to show you how it works. I think a lot of people don't know they can jump in!
Here are ways you can join us:
1. Get on Google Plus, circle me or Jon. Ask for an invite to the hangout!
2. Watch from YouTube - you can comment and we'll check during the livestream!
3. Get the link via Facebook or Twitter.
Here's what I thought about the Nokia Lumia 822... Cliffs Notes version? It's a great phone, but it still might not be for you, depending on how much you need popular apps or social media. Seriously, that wasn't snarky.
I want to thank Verizon Wireless for letting me test out the phone... they are really helpful when it comes to loaners.
It's Cyber Monday, folks. Congrats, you've survived Black Friday.
Now, according to Southernsavers.com founder Jenny Martin, many of the deals are repeats from Friday. So, knock yourself out repeating.
If you are hitting the web today for some shopping, check out ebates.com. It's one of my favorite sites because if you use the service (must sign up), you'll actually get money back. So. Yeah. Duh.
For example, right now if you go to Ebates, and want to shop at The Gap, it will track it... and then you'll get 10% of your purchase back.
*Amazon will be huge today.
*Don't forget, Dec. 17th is National Free Shipping Day, so you can still hold out for that.
I am going to spend a little extra time on a couple of websites for STOCKING STUFFERS!
- Blurb Instagram and Facebook photo books
We had such a great day shopping in downtown Wilmington. I went to Aqua Fedora, Edge of Urge and Polka-Dotted Flamingo. I had to get my freakers on! For real... I bought Freakers.
Also stopped by Projekte for the Indie Pop Up Shop... I love pop-up everything!
It was nice seeing so many of you downtown! I wanted to hit up the Flotilla, but we were tired...
We opted out of the long lines to hit the beach with our babes. It was so beautiful and very nice to see people walking their dogs... and catching a few waves! Have a great Black Friday! Hope you can spend it with someone special.
Chillax about Black Friday, it’s not even the cheapest day to buy. However there are some real tips that can help you save more.
"Thanks to you I did my Black Friday / Thursday shopping online at 4 p.m. No elbow bumps needed. :)" - Dori Olmos, 6 p.m. producer, KYTV
Listen, I’m not a Black Friday expert, but I do interview them from time-to-time. I recently interviewed Jenny Martin, the founder of Southernsavers.com. I shared these tips on the TV side, but now that Black Friday is in full swing, I wanted to give you some tips.
1. The thing is, Black Friday is not even the cheapest day of the year to buy; we just think it is. A good portion of the doorbusters this weekend have actually been cheaper earlier in the year. Often a great time to buy is in January when stores unload their inventory. So… the real question is… can you push back your family Christmas dinner?
2. There are just as many online deals this year. So, unless you enjoy camping out, elbowing people in the aisle, or being disappointed when the store runs out of its doorbusters… then stay home. That being said, there are a few “store only” deals I’ve noticed, but to me, they’re not incredibly awesome.
(Jenny said Target was a prime example – on its ad, the store said their deals were just as good as online.)
3. If you DO head to the stores, then take your smartphone with you and use a barcode scanner app. Jenny uses Amazon. She says chances are, you’ll see a price comparison and realize that the deal isn’t as great as you thought it was.
4. If you missed Black Friday when the gettin’ was good, don’t forget about Cyber Monday. Jenny says her team has looked at the deals come Monday, and most of them are repeats of Friday. So… thanks to the stores’ lack of creativity, you can likely snag the same deals in the upcoming days.
5. Don't discredit any store. Jenny says CVS actually has a ton of good deals this Black Friday. She found a way to get paid $12 for buying $140 worth of stuff. Did you read that right? Yes, you did.
6. And, another good time to buy? Try December 17th. That is National Free Shipping Day. Retailers will have good deals, and it will be the absolute last day for you to order something regularly to get it to its destination.
Personally, I get cabin fever. I like to eat, nap and shop. But, I’m not in it because I think I’m going to get a great deal. I once waited foolishly in line at Best Buy at 5 a.m. to buy a scanner for $9.99 (this was circa 1999)… what a waste. But, if I’m feeling spunky, you may see me at Target with a girlfriend in the wee hours of the morn. Still… shop smart!
Here's an interview I did via Google Plus (this interview wasn't really for public consumption, but you can watch it... I ended up using pieces of the interview for broadcast purposes.)
Circle Worthy: Southern Savers
I think this was the first time since I was 22 that I did not cook a single thing for Thanksgiving. Despite very generous invitations, we opted to hangout and do nothing. Personally, I was just feeling exhausted.
So, I decided to party hard Wednesday night... by listening to Pandora and making myself write. When I woke up at 1:30 this afternoon, I thought it might be a good idea to eat something.
Wednesday night, we started a debate in our Google Plus Hangout on whether Thanksgiving dinner would be better at K&W or Casey's Buffet... but when my G+ friend Matt told me he was going to go to Casey's, the decision was made. I had never met his family before, so this would be a real treat.
I've never been to Casey's. For those of you who may not know, it is a local, traditional Southern food buffet. Catfish, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, okra and BBQ are just a few things on the menu... and most are smothered in butter and oil. But, it was, indeed, a glorious experience.
We met up with Matt and Jen from our G+ Hangouts, we ate a plate of food, helped our reporter friend Ben Powell do his liveshot there (what timing!), and then left. Because we had a little distraction after Round 1, we realized we were too full to go back for a Round 2. For a buffet, that's almost like guilt-free.
Oh, and I put the sweetest faces on TV tonight! Thankful for these moments.