Seton Hall alumnae share experiences with human trafficking

The “Just Talk” Series continued with an event this past Thursday that brought back two Seton Hall alumnae to share their experiences with human trafficking.

SHU alumnae Ingrid Johnson and Keyla M. Munoz opened up with the community about their experiences with human trafficking.

Johnson’s daughter was the victim of human trafficking while Munoz is one of two victim specialists in the state and works with the FBI division in Newark. Although their experiences may be different, both can agree on the importance of telling their story.

“I owe it to society, to people like (the Seton Hall community), to tell the story, to help other people not have to repeat,” Johnson said.

Johnson said her eldest daughter, an honor roll student and at the top of her class, was “hanging out” when they lived in Irvington, N.J. Johnson made a distinction between hanging out and running away.

“You have to get the lingo,” Johnson said. “‘Hanging out’ means ‘I intended on going home but it got a little late, I knew my mother wasn’t going to approve. So you know what? I was just hanging out.’ Then hanging out turns into running away.”

According to Johnson, her daughter was transported from New Jersey to New York and did not know how.

When she noticed her daughter was missing, Johnson said she contacted local law enforcement, reported a missing person and walked the streets of Irvington and Newark posting flyers.

At the end of one of her night shifts, Johnson said her daughter called and left her a voicemail.

“She said: ‘Mommy I miss you. Mommy I love you,'” Johnson said.

After that, Johnson said 11 months went by before someone from the state police said they had seen her.

As human trafficking victims are rescued, Munoz’s job begins.

Munoz said the FBI investigates all types of crimes including human trafficking which falls under civil rights.

“Our goal in these operations is to recover victims, primarily under-age victims,” Munoz said.

Munoz said her job is to provide both the FBI and victims with any kind of assistance. This falls under three phases: pre-recovery, stabilization and long term care.

“One of my biggest roles is to provide an assessment of the victim’s needs and from that point on is where we actually obtain the resources and fulfill those needs,” Munoz said.

According to Munoz, the FBI relies on collaboration with community organizations or non-governmental agencies to help with things they can’t provide like housing.

According to the Seton Hall website, 179 cases of human trafficking in New Jersey have been reported in the past seven years by the Division of Criminal Justice. However, experts estimate thousands of incidents occurring in the state annually.

Madelyn Abdalla can be reached at madelyn.abdalla@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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