The City of Atlanta works with multiple partners in the fight to end human trafficking. But sometimes, the most powerful force is the force of one – local individuals who take a personal stand – even if it means working in the shadows of this dangerous industry to save lives.
Pastor Donna Hubbard is one of those people.
Hubbard understands human trafficking all too well. As a younger woman, she was drugged and victimized by a pimp – and sold as property to a gang – who threatened her children if she tried to leave her life of sexual exploitation.
Ironically, she says, it was a stint in prison that set her free. And from that experience, she created Woman at the Well, a group that provides counseling and training to formerly incarcerated women and girls.
She has shared her story of hope and transformation at the United Nations and all over the world. Through her work with Airline Ambassadors International, Hubbard teaches frontline airport personnel how to spot potential victims in what is literally a crime against humanity.
What’s worse, Hubbard says, is that many people who have been trafficked are typically victimized twice – once by the people coercing them – and a second time by the criminal justice system, where they are often prosecuted for crimes they were forced to commit while under duress.
That’s what led her to her work with the Fulton County Community Court and Toriarn Weldon, an investigator for District Attorney Paul Howard. Over the years, Hubbard and Weldon forged a unique and unlikely partnership that has helped hundreds of victims of human trafficking.
Recently, we followed them in South Fulton County to see their work up close.