HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office hosted a combating trafficking in persons event Jan. 17 in the Chapel Fellowship Hall on Hill Air Force Base. The purpose of this event provided an opportunity for both base personnel and community partners to increase their awareness and emphasize the importance of combating trafficking in persons prevention.
This year’s guest speaker was Judge Robert R. Lung, 18th Judicial District in Douglas County, Colorado. In addition to presiding over a diversified district court docket for 15 years, Lung provides presentations nationally and internationally on issues such as human trafficking, childhood trauma, and resiliency.
Known as the “invisible crime,” every year millions of men, women, and children are trafficked in countries around the world including the United States. Many victims rarely come forward to seek help due to language barriers, fear of the traffickers, and fear of law enforcement.
In his presentation, Lung first discussed human trafficking research and statistics, highlighting the point that traffickers can be just anybody and that there are no stereotypes to the people being trafficked.
“The idea that you would recognize them, that it’s a certain person, or a certain group, class, gender, it is completely incorrect,” said Lung.
Lung spent the second half of his presentation talking about resiliency and hope for survivors. Throughout his presentation, Lung demonstrated several grounding techniques for coping following ordeals of abuse and trauma, and he encouraged the audience to participate in the exercises. The techniques were sensory using aromatherapy, reality using movement such as jazz hands, and with music.
The coping exercises were especially helpful as Lung delved into a case study of a young boy who went through severe childhood sexual abuse and trafficking. He then asked the audience how this case study represented resiliency and evidence-based hope. Silence enveloped the room when he revealed he was the boy in the case study.
“So if I am able to stand here and give this presentation, you should have a reason to believe in hope and know that resiliency is there and recovery is possible,” he said.
Lung ended his presentation by talking about difference-makers. “Be brave, naïve and open,” he said. “You are here for a reason. The first reason is to believe in hope and to give hope to those you encounter.”
And lastly to all the survivors, “It is never your fault no matter what. Shame is toxic. Let go of it, it doesn’t belong to you,” he said. “You are never too old to heal. You can get better. You are not alone.”
In 2016, Lung was selected to serve as a consultant to the Office for Victims of Crime, a division of the Department of Justice’s Office for Justice Programs. Lung was also designated in 2017 to serve as a consultant for the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Center of the recently established Office of Trafficking in Persons of the Federal Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the National Advisory Committee on the Trafficking of Children and Youth in the United States.
In 2018, he was appointed by the president to serve on the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking.