Could understand what I was going through and made me feel good and that it was okay to have [those feelings]. Made me laugh and understand my feelings in a different way.

Katarina MacLeod of Rising Angels talks to Nexus youth about the harsh realities of human trafficking in Canada

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Trigger warning: The following blog post discusses topics that may be upsetting to some readers. If you would like to talk to someone, please call one of the Crisis Response Services listed on our website or visit the Nexus Youth Centre to speak to a Youth Engagement Worker.

On Monday, March 26th the Between Us Girls group welcomed Katarina MacLeod, founder of Rising Angels Awareness and Restorative Care, to the Youth Centre to speak about the harsh realities of human trafficking in Canada. A survivor of exploitation, sexual and physical abuse, drug addiction, kidnapping and domestic prostitution, Katarina founded Rising Angels in 2015 to educate the public about sex trafficking and help other exploited women and girls escape “the game”.

In speaking to the Between Us Girls group, Katarina shared her own personal history of trauma and abuse, which began in early childhood and continued into adulthood. After years of physical, sexual and emotional abuse from family members, boyfriends and eventually her husband, Katarina entered the sex trade as a means of making the money she needed to escape her circumstances. She quickly discovered that the life of a sex worker was not at all glamourous, and in fact more dangerous and psychologically damaging than she had ever imagined.

Katarina spoke to the Between Us Girls group about the high rates of human trafficking in Peel Region; the tricks pimps use to lure girls and women into the sex trade; and the realities of prostitution, including violence, addiction and physical and mental illness.

Katarina emphasized that girls who find themselves in situations similar to her own should reach out for help, offering Rising Angels as one place they can turn to for support. She also encouraged the girls in attendance to pay attention to their friends’ behaviour and report anything suspicious to an adult they trust. Katarina spoke about how her own survivor-led organization is working with schools, police departments and frontline social service workers to recognize and support sexually exploited women and girls.

In attendance with Katarina was her friend Sheila, whom Katarina affectionately calls “mom.” She credits Sheila and some other friends with saving her by giving her the loving family and stability she missed out on in childhood. Now a born again Christian, Katarina also credits God, regular counselling and her work with Rising Angels with helping her get through the difficult days when memories of her past overwhelm and upset her. She believes, however, that there is “beauty to be unearthed in the ashes of her past”, and continues to work diligently to affect change so that other women and girls are not victimized by human trafficking.

Thank you, Katarina, for sharing your important message with Nexus youth and staff.

To learn more about Katarina and Rising Angels, please visit http://www.risingangels.net.

The Chrysalis Anti-Human Trafficking Network also provides a free and confidential phone service where you can obtain information, direction, counselling and other resources. Please visit http://www.chrysalisnetwork.org for more information.


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