Emmy Meyers is the founder of Lacy’s Hope Project. An organization built to destigmatize sex trafficking and bring it to an end. Emmy, a survivor and advocate, and I talked about her life and how it lead her to create Lacy’s Hope Project.
Madison Grace: What have you been up to this summer?
Emmy Meyers: This summer I have been working, focusing on being a new mom to a 8 month old baby boy and doing things with my organization. I am a full time Executive Director of a small assisted living facility in Ozaukee county.
M: That’s a lot to balance. What was life like growing up and what is life like now? Can you talk a little bit about your experience?
EM: I grew up in Milwaukee until about the age of 8 and then we moved to the suburbs. My dad was an addict and my mom worked full time as a nurse to support my sister and I. When I was about 6 I watched my dad overdose on drugs and spend about 2 and a half months in ICU.
While growing up I was molested for several years by 2 older boys that were family friends at that time. Unfortunately, that had put me into the 94% category of children that become re-victimized as adults. My mom moved us to the suburbs to get away from the “city life”. Little did she know that I would only be emerged in “the life” and risk behaviors of the suburbs. In high school I was the all around American girl. I was in soccer, track, gymnastics, FFA, model , forensics, cheer leading, played the violin and so on.
At age 18 I got a boyfriend who I thought was my knight in shining armor. He was not. He did drugs and that ultimately led to my demise. I started dancing at a local strip club so I could pay for college. I had always met girls that had pimps and never understood why some girl would want to give all of her money to some guy who was rude, demeaning and physically abusive. Until it happened to me. I was in an incredibly abusive situation with a man. I was staying at his house trying to get clean from drugs and he ended up branding the back of my leg with a hot metal pipe.
After that I called my drug dealer who had been selling me the “dream” for months. He promised to keep me safe. I would have a roof over my head and everything that I could ever need. I took him up on the off when he sold me the dream because I had no other options.
That's just it. Everybody seems to think trafficking is a choice. That we willingly choose to be prostitutes but that is not the case. I did not wake up when I was little and say, “when I grow up I want to be a junkie and a prostitute.” Nobody has ever said that. It was a choice of a “better and safer option” instead of losing my life.
In 2013 I met two woman from the FBI that changed the course of the rest of my life. They offered me help. A safe place to stay and were willing to meet all of my basic needs. Just like the trafficker promised to do when I was on the brink of losing my life to my abuser. I took the opportunity and began changing my life around.
M: It seems almost your whole life has lead to the creation of Lacy’s Hope Project. For those who don’t know what is Lacy’s Hope Project and its mission?
EM: LHP is a non-profit organization that I created in hopes of changing the way our culture looks at the topics of human trafficking and addiction. The name pays homage to what my name was in the life and when I started dancing. I want to break down the stigmas of both topics and create positive change for generations to come.
We are a survivor- founded initiative devoted to shedding a light on the sex trafficking that happens every day, everywhere. Through community awareness and education, we will dispel myths of the sex trade and drug addiction, encouraging prevention and offering actionable solutions. By speaking for those who can’t, we will fight for change and inspire hope.
M: Like you mentioned, sex trafficking isn’t a super popular topic, what should people know?
EM: I want people to know nobody is immune to sex trafficking or addiction. There is no family or person that is immune from this. It can and will affect people from all walks of life. Sex trafficking is not something that only happens overseas or to foreign minorities. This problem is sweeping over our nation at more alarming rates than any other time in history. Sex trafficking has been recorded in ALL 72 counties of Wisconsin. It is time for people to wake up and become educated..
M: What can people do to support the LHP?
EM: What can you do? Well, you can start by simply talking about it. Bring up the conversation to any one and every one. Let people know what you know and why it is important. Share share share; talk about us on social media to your friends, and so on. Sharing the website would be incredibly beneficial as well. But most importantly we are looking for people to make monetary donations to keep our mission alive. Without the generous support of donors we would not be able to travel through the entire state to train medical professionals, first respondents, law enforcement and general community members. We also provide support for survivors of sex trafficking that are looking for help to leave their traffickers and getting back on their feet.
To learn more about Lacy’s Hope Project go to, http://www.laceyshopeproject.org/.