The Malouf Foundation recently announced a new training module available on its survivor-led and informed OnWatch education platform. When launching the free digital training last year, the Foundation aimed to empower users to spot, report and prevent human trafficking.
Malouf Foundation Executive Director Jake Neeley said, “Due to COVID-19, we weren't able to host Forging Freedom at Las Vegas Market this year. However, experts have reported increased trafficking crisis situations during the pandemic, so we’ve dedicated extra resources to build our OnWatch training. In the home furnishings industry, we have an opportunity to interact with people and make a difference in their lives.”
New OnWatch Module Is Based On A True Story
Based on the true story of Utah trafficking survivor Julie Whitehead—whose trafficker trafficked her for five months in multiple U.S. states, out of the country, and even in her own home—the new module highlights the fact that anyone can be a victim of human trafficking and that the signs can be easy to miss. In Julie's case, people saw and sometimes even interacted with her at gas stations, truck stops, restaurants, and motels—but no one questioned her relationship with her trafficker.
“My trafficker found me at a vulnerable time in my life. I was going through a terrible divorce and my world was turned upside down,” Whitehead shared. “At first, he was kind and supportive. He led me to believe that he was my friend, that I could trust him. But really, he was manipulating me.”
In many trafficking cases, victims do not leave at the first signs of abuse. Oftentimes, this is because traffickers manipulate their victims with tactics like blackmail, to control them and prevent them from leaving. Whitehead finally escaped her trafficker when someone helped her.
Anyone Can Be a Victim of Trafficking
“When listening to Julie’s story, we’re reminded that anyone can be a victim of trafficking, and it takes just one person to save someone else’s life. It all starts with educating ourselves,” Neeley said. “We invite everyone to commit to this cause—and to survivors. Commit that you’ll be the person to do something when you see something that doesn’t look right.”
Whitehead serves on an advisory board for the Malouf Foundation and created the OnWatch training alongside other survivors from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds and trafficking circumstances. Whitehead also served as a consultant when Malouf's award winning video team filmed and produced her module.
“It was empowering to share my story through OnWatch. I felt like I used what happened to me, as awful as it was, for a good purpose,” Whitehead shared. “I regained control of my story and purposefully told it in a way that’s honest and vulnerable to create awareness and give insight on how to help someone else.”
Your Business Can Become a Certified OnWatch Advocate
Participants can work through the core 10-module OnWatch curriculum in just one hour. To become certified OnWatch Advocates, 90 % of a business' employees must complete the OnWatch training. The Malouf Foundation awards certified advocate businesses a one-year certification badge and marketing materials to share on their platforms.
About Malouf Foundation: Formalized in 2016 and operating out of Logan, Utah, the Malouf Foundation is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to confronting child sexual exploitation, specifically sex trafficking and online abuse. The Foundation fulfills its mission by providing education through OnWatch™, promoting healing through Rooms Restored™ and the Utah Trafficking Aftercare Center, and ensuring justice for survivors through children’s advocacy centers. With the support of Malouf™ and its charity network, the Malouf Foundation gives 100 percent of its resources to the people it serves. A significant portion of every Malouf™ purchase supports survivors of sexual exploitation through the Malouf Foundation.
About OnWatch: Launched in 2020 by Safe House Project and the Malouf Foundation, OnWatch™ is a survivor-led and informed education platform that empowers people to spot, report, and prevent trafficking in the United States. A registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, OnWatch™ is dedicated to raising survivor identification above the one percent average from 2018 and supporting survivors on their healing journey. To date, OnWatch™ has trained thousands of individuals nationwide, which has led to a marked increase in survivor identification. The Malouf Foundation and Safe House Project were united by the shared belief that survivors should have the strongest voice in combating trafficking.