Sexual abuse survivor headlines WilmU’s 4th annual Human Trafficking Symposium
After the birth of her second child, Lockey Maisonneuve sought treatment for what she thought was postpartum depression. “That was the beginning of my remembering everything that happened to me,” she said.
What emerged from therapy, recounting her life story online, and an urge to protect her infant daughter were the traumatically repressed memories of an adolescence scarred by rape and prostitution at the hands of her abusive, alcoholic father in 1980s Florida.
“My healing began with the birth of my daughter, 16 years ago, and continues to this day,” said Maisonneuve, the keynote speaker at Wilmington University’s fourth annual Human Trafficking Symposium on June 13.
“I’m no longer ashamed of anything that happened to me, because I know it wasn’t my fault.”
With the focused fury of an activist and the cutting humor of a stand-up comic, Maisonneuve shared her experiences with an audience of about 250 educators, social workers, law enforcement personnel and other community-minded observers in the Doberstein Admissions Center auditorium on WilmU’s New Castle campus.
Pacing the stage in four-inch heels, she described her childhood of abandonment and abuse, her breast cancer treatment and the murder of her estranged mother, her long road to recovery and what she’s learned teaching yoga and mindfulness to prison inmates and at-risk youth. Also, how she almost got to meet Bruce Springsteen.
It’s a life that the Cranford, New Jersey-based “school mom,” who titled her recently published memoir “A Girl Raised By Wolves,” admits “is like the weirdest country-western song ever.”
“Lockey’s story is proof that it is possible to be resilient. To be strong. To recover,” said Dr. Johanna Bishop, director of behavioral science programs in WilmU’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the symposium’s organizer. “You learn that healing is possible.”
Healing human trafficking’s victims was just one goal of the two-day event, which featured breakout sessions and panel discussions on the factors that put children at risk of modern-day slavery, how to recognize and respond to incidents of human trafficking, and the role of illegal immigration and money laundering in this global social problem with a local impact.
“This conference is about connection, expertise and experience,” said Dr. Bishop. “It’s a conduit for people to come forward and say, ‘I work in this field, and I want to share my knowledge.'”
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.