Human trafficking summit kicks off with keynote speaker Rebecca Bender

ASHLAND, Ore. – The Southern Oregon Human Trafficking Disruptors Summit kicked off today at the Ashland Springs Hotel with a keynote speech from a local trafficking survivor.

The summit focuses on bringing attention to the many aspects of human trafficking and the steps in place to help put an end to this issue.

Rebecca Bender was born and raised in Josephine County.

After escaping a human trafficking ring in Las Vegas, she dedicated her career to helping other victims of trafficking get their lives back.  She is the founder of the Rebecca Bender Initiative and Elevate Academy, programs aimed at helping human trafficking survivors.

Bender says while many we would like to believe this kind of thing doesn’t happen in our area, that’s simply not the case.

“It’s happening right here in Eugene, in Grants Pass, in Ashland, in Medford,” Bender said at the summit. “It was happening everywhere. So my goal initially was to just kind of sound the alarm.”

Other speakers this week include local non-profit Community Works, the Oregon Department of Justice, and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Child Exploitation Team.

The summit lasts through Saturday night.

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Taylar Ansures is a producer and reporter for NBC5 News. Taylar is from Redding, California and went to California State University, Chico. After graduating, she joined KRCR News Channel 7 in Redding as a morning producer. She moved to Southern Oregon in 2022 to be closer to family and became KTVL News 10’s digital producer. Taylar is currently finishing her Master's Degree in Professional Creative Writing through the University of Denver. In her free time, Taylar frequents independent bookstores and explores hiking trails across Southern Oregon and Northern California.
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