Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

By Michael Barrett

Sexual Assault Awareness Conference held in Red Lake - P2


Over 70% of sexual assaults are not reported in Indian Country, the rate of violent crime is almost 3 times greater, and 1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.

These are just a few alarming statistics in Indian Country.

The First Annual Sexual Assault Awareness Conference began on Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at the Seven Clans Casino Events Center in Red Lake, with the theme: “Protect Your Spirit, Stand Against Sexual Violence.” The conference is free and open to the public.

Vednita Carter, Breaking Free, Inc. founder and executive director, was the keynote speaker in the morning, and Women’s Program Manager, Joy Friedman in the afternoon.

Vednita Carter has been working with women and girls involved in sex trafficking/prostitution for over 20 years. She began working with this population in jails and prison ministry and then worked developing programs at WHISPER, a small Minneapolis based nonprofit serving the immediate needs of prostituted females on the streets. In 1996, when WHISPER closed its doors, Breaking Free opened theirs and has since provided thousands of women, girls and their children a new life. Breaking Free currently provides a comprehensive list of services to sex trafficked/prostituted women and girls including permanent and transitional housing, advocacy, case management, food clothing, crisis intervention, education, job/life skills, and most importantly...hope.

Breaking Free, Inc. mission is to educate and provide services to women and girls who have been victims of abuse and commercial sexual exploitation (prostitution/sex trafficking) and need assistance escaping the violence in their lives. A couple of their goals are to provide supportive services and education to exploited/trafficked women and girls to help them escape the cycle, and to educate the community about the effects of commercial sexual exploitation on women and girls.

According to their presentation packet, Breaking Free provides expert trainings, presentations and survivor testimony around the world on the issue of sex trafficking and the many diverse subjects related to it. Specialized trainings are customized for diverse audiences including Law Enforcement, the FBI, Media, Service Providers, Faith-based and Secular Communities, Healthcare Workers, Legislators and the Criminal Justice System, the General Public and Sex Trafficking Offenders.

Vednita and her staff (comprised largely of survivors who have gone through the program) have unparalleled experience and expertise in this area and have developed curriculum and consulting packages to assist others in learning how to do this crucial work through a victim-centered service model and curriculum.

Joy Friedman, who spoke in the afternoon, was one of the first women to successfully complete the graduation process and begin working on staff at Breaking Free. For the past 9 years Ms. Friedman has proved to be an invaluable resource and has worked for Breaking Free as a Case Manager, Outreach Specialist, Program Manager, and policy Coordinator for the Offender’s Program (John’s School). Joy has extensive experience in providing services to women who have been victimized in systems of prostitution. She is a sought after public speaker and has provided numerous trainings and presentations on prostitution/sex-trafficking as violence against women and girls and serves as Breaking Free’s primary liaison with the St. Paul Police/Vice Unit and FBI.

Sponsored by Equay Wiigamig, the three-day event will continue on Thursday and Friday and include a variety of speakers and presentations.

Thursday will feature Robert Charboneau Poor Bear and Guadalope Lopez, and presentations on Crime Victims’ Rights and the Red Lake Sex Offender Registry.

Friday will feature Victoria Fineday with Steps to Healing.


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