Human trafficking is a real, international problem, but somehow it’s still very much under the radar. Anne Leigh Cooper, whose sister was trafficked in the Netherlands, understands the devastation and severity caused by human trafficking. She decided to take her personal experiences and use them to spread awareness the way she knows best: Through filmmaking.
In Anne’s view, “film is one of the only ways to get people to put their phone and social media down.” Anne upcoming film, What About Her? will work to spread awareness about human trafficking, encourage viewers to pay attention and inspire others to get involved.
I had the pleasure of meeting Anne at the Soho Farmhouse in NYC for her benefit for What About Her? People from all over gathered to support Anne’s film and learn more about her work. The filmmaker showed clips from her previous projects, including $tockholm Syndroom, which she wrote, directed and starred in. The film tells the story of Ilona, who was kidnapped in kindergarten and lived as a sex slave for 17 years. Anne says $tockholm Syndroom “embodies surrealism versus realism in the mind of a trafficking victim.” For many human trafficking victims, Stockholm syndrome is a way to cope with the trauma they have experienced.
What About Her? will be filmed in Amsterdam and the United States. The film is still in pre-production and Anne is still fundraising for it. She plans to use 50% of the film’s profits towards a new documentary about human trafficking and the other 50% towards supporting a human trafficking organization.
Not everyone has the abilities to create a film, but anyone can help fight human trafficking. “You could be someone’s life changer,” says Anne. Becoming more aware is the first step towards taking action. There are hundreds of organizations that help to spread awareness about human trafficking and provide aftercare for victims, including A Better World, Love 146 and Polaris Project. There are constantly fundraisers and events going on, so it’s very easy to get involved. The United States also has a National Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888 which can be used at any time to report signs of potential trafficking.
People like Anne Leigh Cooper are taking strides every day to save lives, but they alone cannot combat human trafficking. Becoming educated on these issues and spreading awareness are equally as important. There are many people who still aren’t aware of human trafficking at all, so talking to friends and family about what’s going on can really help. There are so many people that can be saved if others simply knew the signs and how to report it.
If you’re interested in supporting What About Her? or simply want to learn more, click here.