CLEVELAND, OH (March 24, 2022) — In order to lift survivors’ voices and experiences to the forefront, the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking has convened a Survivor Advisory Council, whose work and expertise will help inform and improve the ways in which organizations in Northeast Ohio respond to human trafficking and provide services to victims.
“In the Anti-Human Trafficking field, we must first and foremost listen to and learn from the experiences of survivors of human trafficking, so that we can improve our community’s response to human trafficking,” said Kirsti Mouncey, President & CEO of the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking. “The Survivor Advisory Council will be an invaluable resource to the organizations and individuals working to end human trafficking in Greater Cleveland, through their advocacy work, as well as sharing their experiences and expertise.”
The Survivor Advisory Council, currently with five members who are survivors of sex and labor trafficking, will work regularly alongside Greater Cleveland’s Coordinated Response to End Human Trafficking, a coalition coordinated by the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking, so that organizations and individuals working to support survivors of human trafficking in Northeast Ohio can learn from survivors’ experiences and expertise.
Plans are underway for the Survivor Advisory Council to:
- Conduct education, training, and technical assistance for professionals who work with or may interact with victims of human trafficking,
- Provide expert feedback on professional training and community education content creation, and
- Consult with various organizations and individuals working to end human trafficking in Northeast Ohio, providing expert guidance they develop policies, procedures, and tools.
- Provide guidance on policies and advocacy efforts
The Collaborative to End Human Trafficking’s mission is to lead, empower, and connect our community to eradicate human trafficking. The Collaborative provides leadership and expertise to empower a systemic, community-wide response to human trafficking, through education, resources, training, and facilitating a multi-disciplinary collaborative. As the backbone organization of a 60+ organization membership program called Greater Cleveland’s Coordinated Response to Human Trafficking, the Collaborative provides strategic leadership to create social change.
Professionals or individuals wishing to learn more about the Survivor Advisory Council may contact Alicia Ley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
President & CEO
2022 Survivor Advisory Council Members
Rachel Socorro is a SurThriver of Human Trafficking. She was sold into a captive marriage at age 19. For 15 years she was abused, trafficked for sex, labor, and human servitude. In 2017, Ms. Socorro gained her freedom and has worked diligently for the last several years to heal, grow, learn, and share the journey to freedom and wholeness.
Ms. Socorro founded Women Revived in 2019, a service based nonprofit, focusing on guiding, advocating, and facilitating the journey, from freedom to thriving. She also founded The Heart Of It All: The Ohio Ministry Coalition To End Human Trafficking, a group of faith based community leaders who share a common mission, end Human Trafficking.
Teresa Rachelle Merriweather, BA, MSCJ, CSI
Teresa Merriweather is an Elyria native. She holds a Bachelor of Art degree in Sociology (minor in Criminology), Master of Science degree in the Administration of Justice & Security, Crime Scene Technician (CSI) Certification, and she has initiated the pursuing of a Doctorate in Business Administration. Ms. Merriweather successfully completed a Fellowship in human trafficking in December 2016.
A survivor of sex trafficking, Ms. Merriweather is seated on the Global Alliance Human Trafficking Task Force representing the United States of America, as well as the Ohio Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Commission’s Legal/Legislative subcommittee. She is a published author of the Child Trafficking Prevention Framework Post Covid-19 that is being provided to agencies and organizations across the world. Ms. Merriweather trains all over the country on Human Trafficking Awareness.
For more than ten years, Annete Mango lived on the streets addicted to drugs, being beaten by johns and pimps, and freezing in the alleyways of Cleveland. In 2015, she chose to go on the human-trafficking docket in Cleveland Municipal Court for solicitation and drug abuse charges. There, Ms. Mango became involved with the Renee Jones Empowerment Center (“RJEC”), an organization dedicated to helping human-trafficking survivors. Since then, she has gone from being victimized on the streets to being drug-free, holding a full-time job, renting her own apartment, and re-uniting with family members.
Ms. Mango is one of the first human-trafficking victims in Cuyahoga County to have had her criminal convictions related to her victimization expunged. In June of 2017, she completed a Survivor-Educator Certification course through RJEC. After many years of pain and humiliation, she is now able to use her experiences to help and educate others. She is a member of the Ohio Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Healthcare Subcommittee and an Ambassador for the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking. Ms. Mango also co-author of the Anti-Trafficking Review, Issue 17, and special edition on Anti-Trafficking Education.
Harold D’Souza is a survivor of labor trafficking and debt bondage in the U.S. Originally from India, Mr. D’Souza came to the U.S. following the advice and encouragement of a man who would become his trafficker. For over 18 months, Mr. D’Souza was exploited at the hands of the human trafficker, losing his freedom, and struggling to keep his family safe.
Today, Mr. D’Souza is a Survivor-Advocate and Public Speaker. His experience has given him a new purpose and meaning in life. Mr. D’Souza is the co-founder of Eyes Open International, a non-profit focused on developing prevention efforts through survivor-informed research. President Barack Obama appointed Mr. D’Souza to the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking in 2015. He is also an expert consultant to the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
China Darrington has two parts to her trafficking story. First as a very young child, she experienced trafficking at the hands of a relative of a school age friend. This chapter ended with the arrest and imprisonment of her trafficker. But with limited understanding of what she had experienced, or the ability to properly process that experience, she found herself in adolescence being drawn back into the trafficking world. From age 14 to 32, she lived in that world and the overlapping experience of complex trauma and substance use disorders.
Ms. Darrington developed a passion for helping others be able to transition out of that trafficking world and into this new one. She became a passionate advocate for recovery and change and for programs which would allow more trafficking survivors to exit and change, in order to thrive. She has been a peer mentor, an advocate for the survivor experience, has run recovery programs and is now the director of advocacy and public policy for a peer-driven recovery support service organization. She has raised awareness and advocated for survivor-led change at the local, state and national level.