The Essential Abolitionist

The Essential Abolitionist: What You Need to Know About Human Trafficking & Modern Slavery, by John Vanek. Daliwal Press, 2016 (Print: 6×9 inches, 250 pages, soft-bound)

Print and eBook available on Amazon and other booksellers February 21st, 2016. Check back for links!

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What is human trafficking? Why are millions enslaved in lives of labor and sex trafficking? How do traffickers control their victims? What are the needs of trafficking victims? Why don’t more victims reach out for help? What are the challenges faced by law enforcement? What can I do to help?

John Vanek, nationally recognized authority on the response to human trafficking – along with sixteen expert contributors – answers these and other commonly-asked questions about one of the greatest human rights violations today: human trafficking. The Essential Abolitionist offers context to complex topics, reviews the challenges involved in fighting human trafficking and assisting victims, and examines head-on the myths and misconceptions related to modern slavery. If you are already involved in the response to human trafficking, want to get involved, or simply seek a better understanding of this complex, global issue, The Essential Abolitionist will engage, educate, and inspire.


When I entered this field, few people were even aware of the term human trafficking. Although more people today have at least heard the term, one element of my work has not changed: The same questions are asked over and over again, whether the audience consists of anti-trafficking professionals, university students, civic or faith groups, or the general public.

These questions are understandable in light of the complexity of these two distinct and intertwined subjects: human trafficking and the response to human trafficking. In addition, the lack of a single resource that addresses these questions furthers the confusion that prompts them.

I’ve written this book in order to provide a solid foundation for future discussion, collaboration, and action between people in diverse professions and civic groups. In developing this resource, I have three distinct goals:

1 – Replacing complexity with shared understanding.
Complexity reigns supreme in both the factors that cause and allow slavery and the challenges we face in our response. If we are to make a difference, we must understand this complexity and its nuances. To oversimplify human trafficking is a disservice to victims of slavery and to those who work to oppose it and assist its victims.

2 – Providing context through a wider perspective.
Context is especially important when we examine the different ways we respond to human trafficking. If we don’t examine and understand the greater context in which our efforts play a role, unforeseen and unintended consequences can be the results of our actions.

3 – Promoting clarity by addressing common questions and explaining fundamental terms.
I’ve written this book to answer the most often asked questions about modern slavery and how we respond (or should be responding) to this immense human rights tragedy. The overarching questions presented in this book (or similarly-worded questions) have been asked thousands of times. Most of my colleagues have been asked these same questions too. I’ve written this book for people who seek clear and concise answers on these difficult and often complex questions.


Chapter 1 – Human Trafficking: Basic definitions and terms
Chapter 2 – Modern Slavery: Traffickers and their victims
Chapter 3 – Responding to Human Trafficking: General concepts & resources
Chapter 4 – Responding to Human Trafficking: Victims and their needs
Chapter 5 – Responding to Human Trafficking: Law enforcement challenges
Chapter 6 – Be an Abolitionist: Your role in combating human trafficking
Chapter 7 – Human Trafficking: Myths & misconceptions
Chapter 8 – Human Trafficking: Final questions
About the Author
Contributor Biographies
Resources & Websites


John Vanek is a consultant and speaker focusing on human trafficking and the collaborative response to modern slavery. He has worked with the United States Department of Justice, the Office of the United States Attorneys, California’s Office of the Attorney General, California POST, the California District Attorneys Association, the National Law Enforcement Training Network, the Not For Sale Campaign, the Freedom Network Training Institute, and other governmental and private organizations. John is an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of International Policy & Management at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

John retired in the rank of lieutenant from the San Jose Police Department, where he managed the San Jose Police Human Trafficking Task Force, and holds an M.A. in Leadership from Saint Mary’s College of California.

For updates on topics addressed in The Essential Abolitionist, useful links, and anti-trafficking job openings, visit: The Essential Abolitionist Facebook page

Follow John on Twitter: @JohnJVanek


Alejandra Acevedo, Esq., is currently a Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Specialist for the Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center (OVC TTAC). In this position, she responds to the human trafficking related training and technical assistance needs of the OVC grantees, victim service providers, law enforcement, and other affiliated professionals. Prior to joining OVC TTAC, Alejandra was the Policy and Publications Specialist for the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons in the Reports and Political Affairs section, where she managed the publication of the Trafficking in Persons Report and conducted extensive research on human trafficking issues in countries around the world and relevant governments’ efforts to confront it. As a law clerk for National District Attorneys Association, National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse, she researched and synthesized research, case law, and state and federal statutes on child abuse and served as a subject matter expert on domestic child trafficking. Alejandra also served as a legal intern and board member for Save the Young Organization (SAYO) where she administered seminars on Human Rights, Domestic Violence, and Child Trafficking in rural Kumbo, Cameroon. Alejandra holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, certificate in International Relations, and minor in Mass Communications from the University of Florida. She also holds a juris doctorate from the Washington College of Law, American University.

Jon A. Daggy is a Detective Sergeant with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Jon grew up in Mishawaka, Indiana and joined the department in 1989. Since 2005, he has been a detective and supervisor in the Human Trafficking Vice Unit. He is a court expert on the subjects of human trafficking investigations and transnational organized crime. Jon speaks regularly on human trafficking, has trained law enforcement officers in human trafficking and vice investigations, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Ball State University.

Melissa Farley is a psychologist and Executive Director of Prostitution Research & Education. Melissa has 49 publications in the field of violence against women, most of which address prostitution, pornography, and sex trafficking. Her work, with many co-authors, has been used by governments in South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, Ghana, United Kingdom, Cambodia, and the United States for education and policy development. In the last decade Melissa has begun studying sex buyers, resulting in the 2015 publication of an article showing that sex buyers have many of the same attitudes and sexually coercive behaviors of highly sexually aggressive men.

Susan French was Senior Special Counsel for Human Trafficking in the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, Criminal Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, where she investigated and prosecuted labor and sex human trafficking cases on behalf of the United States throughout the 50 states, territories, and possessions. Susan recently was the Senior Staff Attorney for the Anti-Trafficking Project, International Human Rights Clinic, George Washington University Law School in Washington DC. Susan has and continues to consult and train national and international law enforcement and civil society organizations.

Dr. Annie Isabel Fukushima is an Assistant Professor with the Ethnic Studies Program and the College of Social Work at the University of Utah. Prior to joining the faculty at University of Utah, she received her Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley in Ethnic Studies with a Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Rutgers University (2013–2015). In 2015 she was recognized by the National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID) as an Exemplary Diversity Scholar. Dr. Fukushima’s scholarly and public works on immigration, citizenship, victimhood, criminality, and violence has appeared in multiple edited anthologies, encyclopedias, and handbooks for ABC-Clio, Greenwood Press, and MacMillan, scholarly peer reviewed articles in journals such as Feminist Formations, Frontiers: Journal of Womens Studies, and Praxis: Gender & Cultural Critiques and non-scholarly publications in The Nation, Foreign Policy in Focus, Alternet, and Asia Times Online. Currently she is a co-editor for Third Woman Press, a Queer and Feminist of Color publisher, and their inaugural anthology being co-edited with Dr. Fukushima, Dr. Layli Maparyan, Dr. Anita Revilla, and Dr. Matt Richardson. Her teaching experiences encompass a wide range of institutions: She has taught in community college (Laney College), in liberal arts colleges (Scripps College), at state institutions (San Francisco State University), and at research universities (University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Santa Cruz; Rutgers University; and University of Utah). She has served as an expert witness and consultant regarding human trafficking. She has worked at all levels of organizations.

Benjamin Thomas Greer is currently the Senior Executive on Legal Issues for the Paragon Team. The Paragon Team’s mission is to help governments advance their anti-trafficking response through law enforcement training and intelligence gathering specifically designed to improve their Tier ranking with the United States Department of State’s annual TIP report. He is a Former Special Deputy Attorney General—Human Trafficking Special Projects Team for the California Department of Justice—Office of the Attorney General; former research attorney for the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA); and Legal and Legislative Consultant for the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST).

Sarah Jakiel is the Chief Programs Officer of Polaris. She sits on the Executive Management Team responsible for the overall operation of the organization and helps to support Polaris’ programs. She has been on the leading edge of anti-human trafficking efforts both domestically and globally since 2005. Sarah started with Polaris, launching and directing the National Human Trafficking Resource Center and filling a critical service in the anti-trafficking field focused on victim identification, helping survivors access help, and directing key intelligence to law enforcement to fight traffickers. She speaks and trains frequently on topics ranging from engaging technology in the fight against human trafficking to the development and implementation of human trafficking hotlines as the core of a successful national anti-trafficking strategy. Sarah currently advises other countries on local, national and regional efforts to develop effective anti-trafficking response mechanisms. Sarah holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and French from the University of Virginia. After living abroad for several years in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia where Sarah observed human trafficking firsthand, she returned to the U.S. and pursued an MA in Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs from American University where she focused her graduate research on both transnational and domestic human trafficking.

Cindy C. Liou, Esq. is a consultant, trainer, author, and attorney who practices law in the areas of human trafficking, immigration law, family law, and domestic violence. Recently, she was the Director of the Human Trafficking Project at Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach and the Co-Chair of the Policy Committee of the Freedom Network to Empower Trafficked and Enslaved Persons (USA). She is the winner of the 2013 San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking Modern Day Abolitionist Award for Policy and Advocacy. Cindy is also the coauthor of several articles and the second edition of Representing Survivors of Human Trafficking.

Derek Marsh retired in the rank of Deputy Chief from the Westminster (CA) Police Department after more than 26 years of service in 2013. In 2004, Derek helped launch the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force. He served as the co-chair of the OCHTTF from 2004-2012, during which time he developed and taught four courses in human trafficking across the state of California, assisted in creating three human trafficking training DVDs, wrote multiple grants, and twice provided expert witness testimony on human trafficking to Congress. He has presented anti-trafficking trainings across California and the United States, and in Saipan, Italy, and Argentina. He teaches a course on human trafficking at Vanguard University, in Costa Mesa, CA. Derek holds a Master of Arts in Human Behavior, a Master of Public Administration, and graduated from FBI National Academy, Class #224. Currently, Derek is the Bureau of Justice Assistance Visiting Fellow in Human Trafficking, which involves researching, developing and providing training and technical support for human trafficking task forces across the United States.

Shamere McKenzie is the CEO of the Sun Gate Foundation, an anti-trafficking organization that provides educational opportunities for victims of human trafficking. Turning her past adversities as a victim of domestic sex trafficking into engagement, Shamere has become an activist in the fight against human trafficking, bringing about social and political change in America and around the world. She serves on the speaker’s bureau for the Fredrick Douglas Family Initiative and Survivors of Slavery organizations and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Loyola University Chicago.

Nicole Moler is the Director of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), the national, 24/7, confidential, anti-trafficking hotline and resource center serving victims and survivors of human trafficking and the anti-trafficking community in the United States. Nicole joined Polaris in 2007 as part of the team that designed, launched, and operated the NHTRC with the goal of providing human trafficking victims and survivors with access to critical support and services to get help and stay safe and equipping the anti-trafficking community with the tools to effectively combat all forms of human trafficking. Nicole also helped to develop and directs the BeFree Textline which was launched in 2013 as a means of increasing access to victims and survivors and at-risk populations through the use of an SMS text-based hotline. Nicole has provided training and technical assistance to other countries on the development, implementation, and operation of human trafficking hotlines. Nicole has a Master of Arts in International Affairs with a concentration in Conflict and Conflict Resolution from the George Washington University.

Sandra Morgan, PhD, RN, directs the Global Center for Women and Justice at Vanguard University of Southern California. Drawing on her experience as a pediatric nurse, pastor’s wife, administrator of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, and professor, Sandra has developed valuable insights into community engagement. She is co-host of the Ending Human Trafficking podcast with listeners in more than fifty countries. The U.S. Clearinghouse for the Administration of Youth and Family Services recommends the podcast ( as a way to get up to speed on human trafficking issues.

Lynette M. Parker, Esq., is clinical faculty (Immigration Practice Area) at the Alexander Community Law Center, Santa Clara University School of Law since March 2000, where she also teaches, and provides technical assistance on U visa and T visa cases. She has co-authored Representing Survivors of Human Trafficking: A Promising Practices Handbook, 1st edition 2010 and 2nd edition 2014, Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC). Lynette has been a member of the Executive Committee of the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking since 2005 and a commission member of the Santa Clara County Human Trafficking Commission since 2014.

Stephanie Kay Richard, Esq., is the Policy & Legal Services Director at the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) where she provides direct legal services to survivors of human trafficking and technical consultation on human trafficking cases nationwide. She has been involved in the anti-trafficking movement for over 10 years. During this time she has served as the domestic lead for the Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking (ATEST) and the policy Co-Chair of the Freedom Network, USA, two national U.S.-based coalitions working to improve federal and state laws and the implementation of these laws to better serve trafficking survivors in the United States. Stephanie graduated summa cum laude from American University, Washington College of Law, where she was the recipient of a public interest/public service scholarship. She is licensed to practice law in California, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C.

Kiricka Yarbough Smith serves as the Chair of the North Carolina Coalition Against Human Trafficking (NCCAHT) and consults with the North Carolina Council for Women’s Human Trafficking Project. Kiricka is an investigator on the University of North Carolina, School of Social Work’s project addressing child trafficking in the welfare system and serves as faculty for the Futures Without Violence project on building collaboration to address human trafficking in domestic violence and sexual assault cases, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women. Kiricka has served as a consultant with the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys to provide regional trainings on human trafficking to law enforcement and prosecutors and has provided training and technical assistance to service providers, including resources and referrals for survivors of human trafficking.

Mark Wexler is co-founder and executive director of the global anti-slavery organization Not For Sale and co-founder and partner of Just Business, an international investment group that accelerates social enterprises. The two entities co-created the beverage company REBBL. He also started the San Francisco-based Invention Hub, a business incubator and co-working space. Mark manages Not For Sale’s senior staff, operationalizes strategic relationships with partner institutions, and helps steer overall organizational direction. He is currently a lecturer at the University of California Berkeley Extension’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation program.