News Release

Laurie E. Bick-Jensen
Director, Public Relations
320 DuPont Highway
New Castle, DE 19720
(302) 295-1164

The Tragically High Cost of Human Trafficking

Wilmington University hosts 3rd annual Human Trafficking Symposium on August 9

For Barbara Amaya, a decade spent in forced prostitution and drug addiction began at age 12, when she ran away from an abusive home in suburban Virginia.

"While human trafficking happens all over the world, it is also happening right here in the United States," says Ms. Amaya, now a victims' advocate and author of Nobody's Girl: A Memoir of Lost Innocence, Modern-Day Slavery, and Transformation. "Before anything can attempt to change that, through legislation or victims' services, there has to be awareness and education."

As the keynote speaker for Wilmington University's third annual Human Trafficking Symposium on Thursday, August 9, Ms. Amaya will spotlight the lives of victims before and after their experiences; discuss how educators, human services providers, and law enforcement personnel might recognize and respond to trafficking incidents, and offer strategies for helping victims to rebuild their lives.

The Symposium is taking place at Wilmington University's main New Castle campus, located at 320 N. DuPont Highway, in the Doberstein Admissions Center auditorium. Check-in begins at 8:00 a.m., with opening remarks at 8:30. A continental breakfast and box lunch will be provided. Admission is $35. Attendees may register online by clicking this link: 

"The inclusion of the survivor's voice in training, workshops, seminars, and conferences on this issue is crucial," says Ms. Amaya. "My hope is that attendees will hear my words and, understanding what human trafficking is, will want to make a difference."

Ms. Amaya's words deserve to be heard, says Dr. Johanna Bishop, director of behavioral science programs in WilmU's College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the event's organizer. "Hers is an amazing story of the will of a human being to want to survive," she says. "I have nothing but the utmost respect for her."

In addition to Ms. Amaya's talk, the day's agenda will feature morning and afternoon breakout sessions on the factors that put youth at risk of being trafficked; the current thinking on treating victims' traumas; and how social media, money laundering, and modern transportation fuel sex slavery.

As a global social problem, human trafficking's impact hits close to home. "There's a lot more awareness in the state of Delaware that we do have trafficking in our midst," says Dr. Bishop.

Recent arrests have opened authorities' eyes to the fact that traffickers don't simply pass through the Mid-Atlantic on the I-95 corridor, but also make stops along the way, she notes.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, human trafficking "involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act; or, commercial sex involving a person under 18 years of age." A Justice Department study found that more than 40% of the human trafficking incidents investigated in the U.S. between 2008 and 2010 involved child sex offenses.

"We used to think it didn’t exist," says Dr. Bishop. "Now we're trying to assess what kind of resources we have in place for rescue and rehabilitation. Awareness is a collaborative effort, and we can’t do this without community involvement."

For more information about Wilmington University's Human Trafficking Symposium, contact Dr. Bishop at


About Wilmington University

Wilmington University is a private, non-profit institution committed to providing career-oriented, traditional and online associate, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree programs. The Wilmington University difference starts with our flexible, year-round class schedules, full online learning capabilities, and one of the lowest tuitions in the tri-state region. Combined with our intense focus on academic excellence and individualized attention to our students in our degree and certificate programs, the WilmU difference is reflected in our students' achievements and our alumni's successes. For more information, contact Wilmington University at 302-356-INFO (4636), via email at, or visit

Published: Monday, August 6, 2018 - New Castle, DE