General Session and Workshop Descriptions

Friday’s Schedule (8:30am-5:00pm and lunch is included)

Welcome from Mountainbrook Abolitionists

Emcee Bill Cody

Address from Local Leadership:

Dan Dow, District Attorney

Tracy Schiro, Assistant Director of Social Services

Steve Gesell, Chief of Police

Carissa Phelps, Founder and CEO of Runaway Girl

More To be announced…

 General Session 1: Power and Coercion Presented By Rachel Thomas M. Ed., Co-Founder of Sowers Education

Bend. Break. Build. Lock.  Traffickers are strategic manipulators who aim to enslave victims psychologically and physically.  This presentation will explore the most widely-used yet overlooked coercion tactics.

General Session 2: Making the Connections Between Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Presented by Dr. Melissa Farley, Ph. D. Clinical Psychology, Founder of Prostitution Research and Education

Battered women, homeless women, and prostituted women are often the same people. Women in prostitution are among the most physically and sexually brutalized women on the planet. Prostitution is domestic violence. Prostituted women have multiple batterers.  Not only battered by pimps, they are also battered by the hundreds of men who buy them for sex every year. Women in prostitution are familiar with every one of the tactics on the power and control wheel used by batterers:  economic exploitation, social isolation, verbal and emotional abuse, threats, physical violence, sexual assault, captivity, minimization and denial.

General Session 3: The Essential Abolitionist: Labor Trafficking Dynamics: Presented by John Vanek M.A. Leadership and Anti-Human Trafficking Consultant

Globally, the greatest number of modern slaves are victims of labor trafficking and exploitation. Examining the laws regarding labor trafficking, the social and economic factors that push or pull victims into exploitation, and the mindset of traffickers and victims are keys to understanding why labor trafficking is proliferating around the globe and within the United States. This program will provide the essential knowledge about labor trafficking required of every abolitionist, while also addressing some common misconceptions. It will also cover identifying and reporting Labor Trafficking in California and what resources are available for agencies working with survivors of Labor Trafficking.

Friday’s Breakout Sessions: (Participants will be able to choose 2 of the following)

Law Enforcement Investigations: Presented by John Vanek M.A. Leadership and Anti-Human Trafficking Consultant

This workshop addresses law enforcement’s response to labor and sex trafficking incidents. Proactive and reactive operations, investigative considerations and tactics, along with the benefits of community engagement will be examined. This workshop is designed for all law enforcement officers and non-sworn members of criminal justice organizations.

Addressing Men’s Demand for Purchased Sex: What do we know about the men who buy sex?

Presented By Dr. Melissa Farley, Ph.D Clinical Psychology, Founder of Prostitution Research and Education

When we say that we are in favor of ending demand, we are saying that we are in favor of a shift in emphasis from victim to victimizer in order to get at the root of the problem. Research shows that the same factors that are connected with sexual aggression are also typical of men who buy sex.  Here are some quotes from sex buyers:  “Prostitution is renting an organ for 10 minutes” “Being with a prostitute is like having a cup of coffee, when you’re done, you throw it out.” “Prostitution can get you to think that things you may have done with a prostitute you should expect in a mutual loving relationship.

 ETG (Ending the Game) Presented by Rachel Thomas M. Ed, Co-founder of Sowers Education

Ending The Game (ETG) is a groundbreaking “coercion resiliency” curriculum that reduces feelings of attachment to traffickers and/or a lifestyle characterized by commercial sexual exploitation, thereby reducing the rate of recidivism among sex trafficking victims.  It is designed to educate and empower commercial sex trafficking victims by providing a structure and framework to uncover harmful psychological coercion (a.k.a. “The Game”) that victims may have been subjected to during or before their trafficking experience.

Best Practices for Lifelong Liberty: 

Presented By Mark Fisher, IJM Advocate, Abolitionist, and Former U.S. Director of Red Window Project

This session will walk participants through all the vulnerability factors common among trafficking victims yet also those vulnerable to be re-trafficked after removed from exploitation. It then has participants place those factors in different categories to address through a ministry or program. And then challenge their theory of change. Finally, the Red Window Project and its evolution is presented to give understanding how the primary vulnerability factor of poverty and lack of economic options must be overcome to assure a life free from exploitation and being taken advantage of.

Understanding Trauma and Its After Effects:

Presented by Rebecca McGarigle LCSW, MSW

Trauma experiences have a significant impact on the lives of those who have encountered such events.  These experiences are increasingly understood to be a major contributor to the style and quality of decisions that people make in their lives—even after the traumatic events are no longer actively occurring. This workshop will provide a thorough overview of the after-effects of trauma experiences and how they alter one’s perception of self and the world.  The workshop will also discuss how such perceptions contribute to survivors’ difficulties in recognizing their issues and deciding whether/how to go about addressing them.  The focus will be on developing increasing understanding of these dynamics for those that want to help—in order to fortify their ability to provide an effective balance of empathy, respect, encouragement and structure to survivors in need.

 Secondary Trauma and Self Care:

Presented by Ashley Smith, MFT-I

People with the bravery and the stamina to pay attention to the hurts around them, and respond with compassion experience many rewards through the process.  However, there are always times when the balance between life, work, and our passion to serve can stack up and overwhelm us.  Having awareness of your own needs while caring for others will help you to increase your longevity, improve the service you provide, and enhance your overall quality of life.  In today’s session we will identify occurrences of secondary trauma for people in helping roles, identifying the signs and symptoms in ourselves, and how we can use self-care to maintain our balance.  This will be an experiential as well as informative activity that will expand your awareness of yourself and those you serve, please come ready to contribute and participate with an open mind and heart.

Human Trafficking 101: Advocacy Presented by Kris Roudebush (MA, MFT-I) of RISE and Matt Thompson of Department of Social Services

This workshop is a great entry point for many who are just becoming aware of Human Trafficking and would like to possibly become advocates against it. It will provide an overview of Human Trafficking and the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) within the United States with an emphasis on what advocacy looks like.

Expert Panel: Bring all of your questions and ask the experts!

John Vanek, Dr. Melissa Farley, Rachel Thomas, Chris Stambaugh Facilitated by Carissa Phelps 

Friday Evening: 6:30pm-9:00pm (FREE)

It Takes a City: Special Guest Speaker  Chris Stambaugh, Founder and Director of the Grace Network The Grace Network has successfully mobilized and networked thousands of people and businesses in Sacramento to counter Human Trafficking. Now the TGN team travels throughout California to equip and empower communities to holistically address trafficking and exploitation. TGN states that “Human Trafficking is a multifaceted issue. It requires a creative, powerful, and passionate response.” Come hear from Chris as he inspires our city to be that response!

SB1193: District Attorney Dan Dow to share on local updates, including the implementation of SB1193 in San Luis Obispo County and how your business can help!

Film: The Dark Side of Chocolate (Journalists investigate child trafficking in the Ivory Coast and show how it fuels the worldwide chocolate industry.)

Saturday’s Schedule: (9:00am-5:00pm, and lunch is included)

General Session 1: Media

Presented By Rachel Thomas M. Ed.

Sex, promiscuity, breaking rules, drinking, partying…this is what youth hear on the most the popular radio stations.  What is the connection between teen pop music and trafficking?  How does this music affect how they think about themselves and others?   How can pro-trafficking lyrics affect the entire generation?


General Session 2: Filmed Sexual Abuse: Making the Connections Between Pornography and Human Trafficking

Presented by Dr. Melissa Farley

The sex industry has many offshoots and it’s important to realize how they’re all connected. Pornography is pictures of prostitution or as a sex buyer explained,“pornography is prostitution with a camera.” Today, online pornography is how trafficking happens.  Women are advertised and sold online while under the control of pimps even though they may be called “independent escorts.”


Saturday’s Breakout Sessions:

Advocacy and Human Trafficking: Presented by Mark Fisher, IJM Advocate, Abolitionist, and Former U.S. Director of Red Window Project

This workshop will explore how to use your freedom for others and how to use your voice to impact important legislation. It will provide concrete tools to help advocates understand the who, what, where, and how, of lobbying your legislative leaders

The Power of Our Words When Working for Justice: Presented by Dr. Deborah Blades, Doctor of Ministry, International Feminist Theology

Regardless of your area of advocacy, it’s important to consider that what you say or how you respond to survivors of domestic violence, sexual abuse or trafficking, may reinforce, though unintentionally, underlying systems of injustice. This workshop focuses on raising awareness of how elements of language, including religious language, tend to erase female experiences and have the potential to reinforce internalized patriarchy and/or spiritual abuse. Religious authority often has a powerful influence on people’s lives and many words or religious terms may act as triggers to traumatic memories and events for survivors. This workshop will discuss what spiritual abuse is and offer advocates practical ways to use language to empower, always striving to “do no harm,” and create safer spaces with their communities.

Specialized Foster Homes for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children:
Presented by Janaan Miles Family Care Network and Belinda Benassi, CWS Program Manager at Department of Social Services

This workshop will provide a brief overview of the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the US, and an in depth look at Family Care Network’s program to develop Specialized Foster Homes for CSEC survivors in SLO County. It will also cover local protocols that have been developed for CSEC in SLO County. This workshop is ideal for those interested in becoming specialized foster parents, and those interested in trauma informed care and other aftercare programs. This workshop will also benefit advocates and potential volunteers in the community who may be interested in preventing Human Trafficking by mentoring or tutoring Foster Youth.

Labor Trafficking and Your Response: Becoming a Responsible Consumer
Presented by Mark Fisher and members of Mountainbrook Abolitionists

This workshop will explore supply chains and how the global tragedy of labor trafficking and modern day slavery is present in many of the products we use every day. How do we begin to address, and reduce the demand that we provide for labor trafficking? To encourage an individual response, resources and tools will be provided for researching where your products come from. This workshop will also include practical and tangible ways in which consumers can advocate and increase demand for slave free products in their own communities. Participants will also discuss next steps for a community response.

Host Homes for Survivors of Human Trafficking:
Presented by Danielle Veatch, Co-founder of MbA, Anti-Human Trafficking Advocate trained by Not 4 Sale & Exodus Cry

If the need for housing is not met, many survivors are at risk of being re-trafficked. One of the most practical ways people can help is by assisting in transitional and low cost housing. This workshop will take it’s attendees on an in-depth analysis of the host home model. It will include its pros and cons, successes and failures, and ultimately its implementation process. If you’re looking to discover more about what host homes are, or want to offer your home as one, please check out this workshop.

Education and Human Trafficking: Presented by Women’s Shelter Program, RISE, Child Abuse Prevention Council, and Mountainbrook Abolitionists

Designed to help parents and teachers advocate for Human Trafficking education in schools, this workshop will begin with an overview of what prevention education already exists in our local schools. It will also provide an overview of SB1165 and allow participants to address how the new mandatory prevention education bill may affect them. A review of labor trafficking curriculums and other resources will be provided, as well as a look at what’s happening around the state. Participants will be able to create next steps for supporting current successful programs, as well as next steps for helping advocate for further Human Trafficking education in schools.

Interfaith Workshop: There are many faith groups that are actively involved in countering Human Trafficking both locally and across the state. This is an opportunity to partake in a conversation and explore the many possibilities of how and when different faith groups may collaborate against Human Trafficking.

Networking and Next Steps: 4pm-5pm
Facilitated by Chris Stambaugh, Director of Grace Network, and Rebecca Turner, Director of Mountainbrook Abolitionists 


Sunday’s Session: 1pm-4pm (Free)

Building Your Personal Abolition Plan:

Presented by Mark Fisher

This workshop has people assess their spiritual gifts, passions, personality, and circumstances and then use Christian coaching principles to promote discovery, narrow to focus, develop action steps. All are welcome!!