Lily’s Story: From Trafficked to Hope

Lily had always dreamed of the ocean. Growing up in a small town far from any coast, she would flip through old National Geographic magazines, mesmerized by the turquoise waters and the thought of waves lapping at sandy shores. But at just fifteen Lily’s world took a dark turn after she met and fell in love with a guy online. Their relationship didn’t pan out as Lily envisioned as things quickly went from fairytale romance to nightmare when he began selling her to strange men he connected with online.

For the next year, Lily’s life was a blur of fear, pain, and hopelessness. Every day was a struggle to survive, every moment a battle to keep a glimmer of hope alive. She had been moved from city to city and had lost all hope that someone might realize she needed help.

One chilly autumn evening a Project 1591 volunteer analyst was searching escort ads for indicators of trafficking when she happened upon an ad for an 18-year-old girl named Angel. With some indicators present the analyst started working backwards to determine who Angel really was. After combing social media sites and other publicly available information she determined that Angel was really Lily, and she was not eighteen like the ad stated she was in fact just fifteen. The analyst compiled what she found and submitted it through the Project 1591 platform.

The following morning a Guardian Group analyst reviewed what the volunteer had submitted and determined the information met the threshold to pass to local law enforcement partners. Law enforcement across the state received the alert of a minor being sold online and they quickly took action.

The law enforcement officers were under resourced and focused on some many other things that prior to the Guardian Group report they were unaware that Lily was in trouble and needed their help. The Publicly Available Information Reports (PAIR) provided by the Project 1591 volunteer force and Guardian Group internal Analysis Team act as a head start for law enforcement. Without the proper time, training, and other resources needed to do the tedious research to identify the girl in the ad and uncover her online presence to start making a case law enforcement might not have been able to assist Lily until her situation got much worse.

There are countless others just like Lily, that need help. If you are ready to make a meaningful impact, here are several ways to support Guardian Group in this work.

 

  1. Join Team 1591:

Inspired by the US law that protects children from being sold for sex, Team 1591 is a community of people committed to donating at least $15.91 every month to support victim identification and Guardian Group’s efforts right here in the United States.

This summer we are looking for 524 new Team 1591 members to join the community. This would allow us to hire another internal analyst and would increase our victim identification ability by a minimum of 250 victims annually.

  1. Donate through your Donor Advised Fund (DAFs):

Making a donation from your DAF to support Guardian Group allows you to manage your charitable donations more strategically, ensuring tax efficiency and maximizing the impact of your contributions. Additionally, DAFs offer flexibility in choosing and timing donations, empowering donors like you to support your favorite causes when it is most beneficial

  1. Give Crypto:

Giving cryptocurrency as a donation provides significant tax advantages, as crypto donors can avoid capital gains taxes and potentially deduct the full market value of the crypto at the time of donation. Moreover, crypto donations can be processed quickly and securely, offering a modern and efficient way to support charitable causes like Guardian Group.

  1. Donate Stock:

Donating appreciated stock directly to Guardian Group allows you to avoid capital gains taxes while potentially claiming a charitable deduction for the full market value of the stock. This method of giving maximizes the value of the donation to the charity and can significantly reduce your taxable income.

  1. Make a One-Time Donation:

Making a one-time donation allows you to provide immediate support to Guardian Group’s most urgent needs while simultaneously making a swift impact. It also simplifies the giving process, requiring no long-term commitment while still offering potential tax benefits.

  1. Other forms of Giving:

If you are interested in making lasting impacts through sending checks, donating assets, real estate or other forms of non-cash gifts, setting up a legacy gift or connecting us to a foundation or other granting agency please send us an email at giving@guardiangroup.org.

 

Once the officers received the PAIR report from Guardian Group’s team, they were quickly able to seek the proper subpoenas and warrants necessary to step in and offer Lily a path to freedom. Simultaneously they were able to build enough of a case to arrest her trafficker and prevent him from doing this to other young girls.

Lily’s journey was one of pain and resilience, fear and courage. She had been to the darkest depths but had emerged stronger, a testament to the unbreakable human spirit. And every time she stands by the ocean, she is reminded of her journey from captivity to freedom, from despair to hope.

Help us spread this hope to others just like Lily and put a stop to traffickers exploiting our young people.

 

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