Human Trafficking Awareness Month: Who We Are

January is Human Trafficking Awareness month. When you hear the term Sex Trafficking, what comes to mind?

  • It is a solely international problem
  • It is prostitution / sex work
  • It is not an issue found in South Carolina
  • Victims are held against their will with handcuffs and other bondage
  • Victims are easily identifiable

These are common misconceptions of trafficking. Human Trafficking, also known as modern day slavery, is more common today than ever before. Survivors of trafficking are manipulated using force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of exploitation; to profit others. Due to the hidden nature of this crime, most people don’t realize how prevalent trafficking is, not only across the United States, but even in our own backyard. The passing of the 2012 South Carolina Human Trafficking law (S.C. Code Ann. §§ 16-3-2010 et. seq., 2010) along with other additional statutes, has allowed for the protection of these exploited individuals and prosecution of their perpetrators. The growing numbers of this social issue within South Carolina has called for trafficking specific positions to be created within STSM and Richland County CASA.

We have created two positions within the last six months to combat human trafficking in our area. Maggie Malaney is the Trafficking Survivor Advocate and ensures survivors of sex trafficking in the Midlands receive crisis intervention, as well as personal and legal advocacy to facilitate healing and recovery. Trauma-informed, best practice care is used to empower survivors throughout their healing process. "As a psychology major and public health minor, this position combines my passions of direct service, community outreach, and vulnerable populations," Maggie says. 

Alek Dolge is Anti-Human Trafficking Project Coordinator, created by The Richland County Human Trafficking Task Force for the partnership of Richland County CASA and STSM.  This position seeks to create a concrete plan to best represent survivors of human trafficking in Richland County.  Through community trainings, task force development, and the creation and implementation of a strategic plan, Alek hopes this will influence systemic change in addressing human trafficking. "Anti-Human Trafficking efforts became a passion of mine after a trip to a small village in Mexico, several years ago. After a survivor shared her story with me, I returned home and changed my major. I later graduated with a Bachelors and Master of Social Work with the goal to become an anti-human trafficking advocate."

Alek and Maggie are working to develop community trainings and outreach to provide education on available services, the impact of sexual assault, how to identify trafficking victims, how to appropriately respond to survivors, and how to refer survivor’s towards recovery.

Throughout Human Trafficking Awareness month, this blog series will address misconceptions associated with trafficking, common identifying characteristics of trafficked individuals, services and resources available to survivors, and future goals towards eradicating sex trafficking.

Alek Reaves

Alek has served as STSM's Elementary Education Coordinator since January 2017, but has been with the agency since September 2015. Previously, she worked as Richland County CASA’s Anti-Human Trafficking Project Coordinator and as STSM's Prevention Education Coordinator. In her current role, she provides primary prevention education to youth and their families throughout the midlands. She passionately believes in adult responsibility for the safety of children, as well as supporting parents in having ongoing, age appropriate conversations.