Leanna Westerhof and Eden’s Glory

Graphic by Logan Nelson

Written by Bobby Neal. Media by Logan Nelson.

What questions come to mind when you hear about human trafficking? What do you know about it?

Human trafficking is

a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or labor services against his/her will.”

Leanna Westerhof spent the summer interning at Eden’s Glory, a safe house in Southern Ill. for female survivors of human trafficking. Westerhof stated that the experience was difficult for her. A comment that she made was this, “I have a long history in working with Eden’s Glory but I never got to meet any of the girls.” She loved learning about human trafficking in a hands-on way because she saw how the girl’s transitioned back into everyday life. As a social work major, the exposure was a great learning experience. After all, being in the classroom is much different than meeting people who have gone through something like human trafficking

Leanna Westerhof. Photo by Logan Nelson.

It took Westerhof a while to get used to hearing the trials these women went through. Working with each woman took patience because of their fragile trust. If you do something to lose it, it’s nearly impossible to regain that bond. Westerhof came from a very loving family so the experience was a little traumatizing for her. She had to learn to leave the women’s experiences at work and not let it interfere with her life at home. It’s an emotionally taxing job and not for everyone. Therefore, if it’s something you are passionate about, try to mentally prepare yourself.

Westerhof dealt with the high emotions by going with the flow. The women who came in said things she wasn’t comfortable with but she still treated them with respect. Westerhof commented,


You want to treat these ladies like they’re normal even though they aren’t.”

Westerhof talked to her mentor or manager to process the things she heard each week.

Human trafficking is real. If you want to learn more about it, check out the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s website. Greenville College has an active chapter of The Set Free Movement if you want to get involved on campus. They raise awareness about the issue from a cultural and religious standpoint.

Get involved and be apart of the solution!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here