WHO: Bob Williams, Ranch Hands Rescue CEO, Landon Dickeson, Ranch Hands Rescue, Executive Director, a group dedicated to reaching and helping survivors of human trafficking throughout the country
WHAT: Times Square billboard campaign to help identify, support male victims of human trafficking in New York City and beyond
WHEN: Beginning Monday, August 14 for four weeks
WHERE: Double Display in Time Square
WHY: Anti-human trafficking efforts have historically been geared towards female victims and survivors. For decades, male survivors were not considered in the statistics, nor were they acknowledged as victims or survivors of trafficking. With the help of Clear Channel Outdoor, New York City’s Times Square will host the FIRST campaign series to highlight that boys and young men are sex trafficked too. The campaign has been featured across several media outlets, including a multi-state push late last year, and a Texas statewide campaign prior to that.
A press conference will be held on Thursday, August 17th, at 11am in the heart of Times Square, adjacent to TKTS and Duffy Square. It will be led by Landon Dickeson and Jose Alfaro. Landon is the Executive Director for Bob’s House of Hope, a division of Ranch Hands Rescue. He is a leading expert with developed clinical expertise on the trafficking of boys and young men throughout the US. Jose is a Lived Experience Expert who works with many different agencies and organizations around the globe to spread awareness that human trafficking happens to boys too.
Jose shares, “When I was trafficked in 2007, I did not know that what happened to me was human trafficking. It wasn’t until 2018 where myself and three other male survivors testified in a criminal trial against my trafficker, Jason Daniel Gandy, where he was sentenced to 30 years in prison with no chance of parole. This was the first time in over a decade that I identified as a trafficking survivor. Before the trial, I blamed myself for everything I had gone through which led me through a life of self-destruction and mental health issues. Many survivors of sexual abuse and trafficking do not come forward and speak about their abuse because of shame and stigma. Living in silence can lead to a life of drug abuse, addiction, incarceration, and, worst of all, death by suicide or homicide.
The part that keeps me going are the number of emails I receive from men who tell me that they never had the courage to share what happened to them but they are happy that someone is speaking out and making a difference. This is why we need more public awareness around the topic of male sex trafficking and abuse.”
Landon states, “Despite the widely held perception that sex trafficking victims are all female, studies show that up to 50% of victims are male. In part due to a lack of public awareness, these boys and young men often go unidentified, remaining in horrific situations, deprived of their freedom. When they do escape, they face enormous challenges finding refuge in a system tailored to serve female victims.”
In June of 2021, under the direction of RHR CEO, Robert ‘Bob’ Williams, Ranch Hands Rescue opened Bob’s House of Hope, the FIRST safe house in the country for young men who have been sex trafficked. This safe haven is the first and only place for males 18 and up who have endured the horrors of commercial sexual exploitation by giving them a place to rebuild their lives with the skills they need to live a life of dignity and purpose.
As Bob states, “providing a sanctuary for these young men is critical to giving them a level playing field. These are good kids who have been through terrible things. They deserve the same opportunities as everyone else, and that is what we are giving them. We are giving them their power back and arming them with the knowledge and skills they need to live a happy, productive, and independent life.”
EDITORS: The units in Times Square will display these messages which feature images of different ethnic boys for one month. To arrange a photo op please contact Landon Dickeson at (903) 952-8353, or Cynthia Thomas at [email protected].