Friday, March 09, 2012

Human Trafficking

July 01, 2010,, Multnomah County commissioners declare July as Human Trafficking Awareness Month, By Allan Brettman,

October 12, 2010, KCBY News, Human trafficking in Coos County, By Brie Thiele,

November 12, 2010, KOIN CBS 6, Father puts impetus on sex trafficking awareness,

January 27, 2011, KVAL News, Former UO instructor accused of lying about his life, by Molly Blancett,

January 5, 2010, SheWired, Jane Velez Mitchell Discusses Stopping Human Trafficking, by: Jamie Wetherbe,

Issues host and out TV anchor Jane Velez-Mitchell talks with SheWired about the upcoming human trafficking conference and the war on women:

The Northwest Coalition Against Trafficking (NWCAT) on Jan. 9 in Portland will host their annual conference to educate and protect women and girls from sex trafficking.

The conference — which also serves as a fundraiser to create a trafficking shelter in Portland — will feature breakout sessions, safety demonstrations, child finger printing and keynote speakers with first-hand experience in human trafficking.

Speaker Bill Hillar, a former Special Forces Colonel, lost his 17-year-old daughter when she was kidnapped in 1988 in Asia and forced into the sex industry. Hillar was unable to save his daughter; the recent movie Taken with Liam Neeson, is partially based on his story.

Velez-Mitchell blames movies and television for perpetuating violence against women. “We’re creating a hunter-prey relationship between men and women,” she says. “We have to stop subsidizing the violence against us and companies that make that violence should be boycotted.”

To have our voices hear, Velez-Mitchell says women need to form a national organization. “We have the clout; we’re just not using it. We have to come together and consolidate that power so when something happens to women, there are repercussions,” she says. “Who is organizing protests outside these movies? No one.”

As for fighting human trafficking, Velez-Mitchell says it’s about women setting clear — and loud — priorities.

“We spend so much time on the war on drugs, which, of course, is a bogus war,” says Velez-Mitchell who has written about her own addiction in iWant: My Journey from Addiction and Overconsumption to a Simpler, Honest Life. “You can’t fight addiction with troops, but what about taking some of those resources and devoting them to trafficking?”

Again, it goes back to the constituents. “If American women aren’t exercising their clout as a gender and a voting block saying this is our priority then nothing is going to inspire the powers that be to suddenly make that a priority,” she says. “We really have so much power if we just realized it and put it together as a single voice when we need to.”

As for accepting the Ruby award, Velez-Mitchell says, “I’m always humbled when anybody wants to give me an award — I don’t do it for awards — I’m sure there’s somebody out there who’s more deserving and if they find that person give it to them!”

A sex-trafficking survivor’s story
By Jeoffry Ray On January 12, 2012 · Leave a Comment · In Arts & Culture
PSU screens John Holmes murder story in feature film Wonderland

A matchmade in hell: Kate Bosworth, left, plays Dawn Schiller to Val Kilmer’s John Holmes, right.

“But I’m his girl. From that first night on the beach, when I was 15, I was his girl.”

It’s a simple line but one that tells an entire story, according to Dawn Schiller, who narrowly survived years of sex trafficking and abuse at the hands of porn legend John Holmes.

Years ago, Schiller might have uttered those words in defense of her relationship with Holmes, even as he sold her off for cash or cocaine. Today, she sees these words as the key to explaining not only her own fall into the world of human trafficking but those of so many other youth still being victimized.

“That is what I believed, and that is what I saw,” Schiller said. “That’s really a key line, I believe, to tell you how he had me since I was so young.”

She recalled those lines from the 2003 James Cox film Wonderland, which is being screened at Portland State today as part of the 2012 Northwestern Coalition Against Trafficking Film Festival.

Wonderland portrays events in Schiller’s life. Starring Val Kilmer as Holmes and Kate Bosworth as Schiller, Wonderland focuses on the brutal Wonderland murders, which occurred July 1, 1981. Holmes was closely tied to the people involved and was investigated for the crime. While Schiller’s story is not the central focus of the film, her role is pivotal, and the abusive nature of her relationship with Holmes is depicted in several scenes.

The film is visceral in its portrayal of the violent events. Michelle Bart, an organizer responsible for the NWCAT Film Festival, observed that “although a dark film, it’s a true film.” The reality behind the motion picture, according to Bart, is what makes the screening important.

“We felt it was necessary to depict some films that we believe are true stories of individuals who were victims but who are now survivors that got back on their feet,” Bart said.

Also at the screening will be Shelby, a high-achieving student and trafficking survivor that narrowly escaped exploitation when police apprehended her kidnapper. Shelby and her parents will be available after the screening to answer questions about her story.

“[Shelby] got on a website called Plenty of Fish,” Bart said. “She was befriended by this individual who claimed he was 19, but he was really 39. He started drugging her, and she didn’t realize it.”

The NWCAT Film Festival directly precedes the NWCAT Conference, held at the Lloyd Center Doubletree and from Jan. 13–15. Schiller will be among the speakers and is scheduled to talk at the conference Sunday, Jan. 15.

The NWCAT events have been prepared by Soroptimist, an organization of professional women dedicated to improving the lives of women across the globe with efforts to expand awareness of human trafficking in cities across the nation.

“With Soroptimist, our objective with this conference is to educate and empower communities across this country to understand this epidemic,” Bart said.

Human trafficking is seen increasingly as a problem across the country and is commonly described as a modern form of slavery. Although media attention often focuses on the sexual exploitation aspect, human trafficking can take other forms, such as labor trafficking, according to Kari Anne McDonald, events coordinator of the Portland State Women’s Resource Center.

“While sex trafficking receives a lot of the attention, labor trafficking in the rural areas can actually be a big issue,” McDonald said.

The WRC is responsible for facilitating the NWCAT Film Festival. The center also helped Soroptimist arrange campus accommodations for the week. Both organizations regard raising awareness of trafficking as an important objective, and, according to McDonald, many students agree.

“We have had students approach us in the past asking us why we don’t do more about trafficking,” McDonald said. “The last couple of years, we’ve done more to reach out and address that issue.”

The young people at highest risk seem to be the loners, according to Bart. Individuals with fewer ties to others seem to be the easiest to lure and the easiest to miss when they’re lost to the underworld.

“Little Jane Doe over in the corner is all alone because she’s an outcast or she’s a loner,” Bart said. “Those are the typical children that kidnappers look for because they’re the easiest to take. We see it over and over again.”

Schiller expressed the same opinion through the lens of her personal experience.

“I was somebody that people remember being very quiet, in the corner, withdrawn, not really thinking I was anybody special or that I had anything to offer,” she said. All John [Holmes] had to do was turn around and look at me, and say, ‘Well, that was really smart,’ or bring me a stuffed animal from one of his trips out of town, and all of a sudden, I meant something to someone.”

Though she was a victim in her youth, Bart believes Schiller’s story is ultimately inspiring. Schiller recovered to pursue higher education, and found the nonprofit organization ESTEAM (Empowering Successful Teens through Education, Awareness and Monitoring), to aid struggling youth. She has written a book, The Road through Wonderland: Surviving John Holmes, detailing her own struggle.

“She chose to overcome it,” Bart said. “She was rescued after the Wonderland murders were exposed. She’s been able to get back on her feet, get a college education, raise a daughter and start an organization for runaway teens. She is a hero among us.”
Northwest Coalition Against Trafficking Film Festival presents: Wonderland (2003)
Followed by a Q-and-A with a human trafficking survivor
Thursday, Jan. 12, 6–8 p.m.
Smith Memorial Student Union, room 236
Free and open to the public

Tagged with: filmsex traffickingWomen's Resource Center

The Road Through Wonderland:
Surviving John Holmes
Dawn Schiller
ISBN# 9781605420837
Trade Paperback
US $19.95 / CDN $22.95

Also available on Kindle.

Dawn Schiller Receives Courage Award!

The President's Commission on the Status of Women Recognizes Dawn Schiller for her Courage and Vision in Working for a World Without Violence Against Women and Girls. International Women's Day, March 8, 2010. Eastern Oregon University.


Coming in 2010 is the launch of Medallion’s first nonfiction title! Look for The Road Through Wonderland: Surviving John Holmes by Dawn Schiller to hit store shelves in August 2010.

The Road Through Wonderland: Surviving John Holmes is Dawn Schiller’s chilling account of the childhood that molded her so perfectly to fall for the seduction of “the king of porn,” John Holmes, and the bizarre twist of fate that brought them together. With painstaking honesty, Dawn uncovers the truth of her relationship with John, her father figure-turned-forbidden lover who hid her away from his porn movie world and welcomed her into his family along with his wife.

Within these pages, Dawn reveals the perilous road John led her down—from drugs and addiction to beatings, arrests, forced prostitution, and being sold to the drug underworld. Surviving the horrific Wonderland murders, this young innocent entered protective custody, ran from the FBI, endured a heart-wrenching escape from John, and ultimately turned him in to the police.

This is the true story of one of the most infamous of public figures and a young girl’s struggle to survive unthinkable abuse. Readers will be left shaken but clutching to real hope at the end of this dark journey on The Road Through Wonderland: Surviving John Holmes.

Also check out the movie Wonderland (Lions Gate Entertainment, 2003) for a look into the past of Dawn Schiller and the Wonderland Murders

Dawn Schiller: "Through and Beyond Wonderland," E.S.T.E.A.M

By Delilah
There is pleasure getting to know Dawn Schiller before and after her book, "The Road Through Wonderland: Surviving John Holmes" was written and released. What many don't know is that this book, with all the details of a horrifically violent relationship, was over 6 years in the making. Why did it take so long, you may ask? Think about writing details of your own worst nightmare, think about reliving them, one by one, baring all your secrets, and then you may have the answer.
Dawn Schiller, for those who do not yet know her story, was living a not so typical teenage life, living in the violent neighborhoods of Miami, when she was reunited with her absent father, went along with him to California and, by coincidence, ended up in a relationship with well known adult film star, John Holmes. There are several misconceptions about how this could happen, why would a 15 year old be attracted to a 32 year old man from the adult film industry? What you don't know is the meat of her story, it's not a simple story, and another reason it took so long to put into words.
Much more information is available now than it was in the 70's about the concept of sexual predators, their grooming process, as well as violence in relationships and human trafficking. What we have learned by reading and writing reports and processing information, Dawn Schiller lived in real time. A victim of a predator is slowly groomed, it's a process, and John Holmes' seduction of Dawn was no exception. Recognizing the opportunity to build a relationship with a young girl and use her for his own purposes, John Holmes held the key to survival for 15 year old Dawn.
You may wonder, why didn't she just get out, why didn't she just leave? It's not so simple when your basic human needs, food, shelter and clothing, are being met by someone who wishes to control your every move. You have to understand the psychology involved in violence as a means of control, as well as the control of alcohol and drugs on both sides of this dysfunctional relationship. The details are in Dawn's book, but the concept is alive and well and living among us still.
Dawn, and her experiences, are the subject of two popular radio shows hosted by Susan Murphy Milano. (
In "Riding Away From Wonderland" (Feb. 2010) Dawn takes us into her childhood memories, of her early family life, what was right and what was wrong. She told of her life surviving in a household run by a bitter single mother and how she survived the violence happening all around her there. She then took us to John Holmes, explaining to stunned listeners her experiences of his violent acts against her, as well as how he used her as a product to make money, thus trafficking her on the streets of Los Angeles and holding her captive with no means of escape.
"Beyond Wonderland" (Nov. 2010) takes listeners a step out of the Wonderland years. Dawn recounts for us the definition of a "throwaway teen" from her own experiences, and how things may have been different in her life had there been a lifeline out there somewhere. As we talked with Dawn she was able to dispel some of the myths surrounding her relationship with Holmes; that she was involved in the adult film industry (she was not), that she could have left him at any time, or that she enjoyed being with him and living his lifestyle. She is still brought to task by followers of Holmes from the adult film industry and John's fans, who for some reason, still hold him in high esteem as "The King." Dawn Schiller is the one who still suffers the physical and psychological after affects of violent beatings, being thrown out of moving vehicles, stomped, kicked and put out on the streets for others to violate her body. Why those in the adult film world would criticize her is beyond understanding.
"The Road Through Wonderland" only takes readers to a point in Dawn's life, there is so much more to learn about her and about how she took the negative experiences of her life, turned it around, and now reaches out to help others. She is now a sane and sober woman, mother, and college student keeping her finger on the pulse of the issues of violence prevention, trafficking and helping homeless teens.
Dawn Schiller ( is the Founder of the non-profit, E.S.T.E.A.M., Empowering Successful Teens through Education Awareness & Mentoring, ( an organization which reaches out to troubled teens to give them better options in their lives. E.S.T.E.A.M. is the legacy that Dawn will leave to future generations, the fruit born from the life that she did not make a choice to live.
Listen to the radio interviews with Dawn Schiller and Susan Murphy Milano:
"Beyond Wonderland" on Here Women Talk broadcast by Zeus Radio Network
"Riding Away From Wonderland" on BlogTalk Radio
To purchase "The Road Through Wonderland: Surviving John Holmes"
To schedule Dawn Schiller for an appearance or as a speaker for your next event, please contact:
ImaginePublicity PO Box 14946 Surfside Beach, SC 29587 843.808.0859

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