CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman County Human Trafficking Task Force met Wednesday and welcomed Cullman native Jordan Giddens, former finance director for Alabama Rep. Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville and current child trafficking care coordinator for the Children’s Policy Council and Family Court of Jefferson County. His talk on what is happening to combat trafficking through the Alabama Legislature and in Jefferson County was made in the context of his own story of being a victim of trafficking himself.
Giddens was drugged and kidnapped from a bar in downtown Birmingham in 2015, then driven to another location where he encountered a U-Haul trailer full of other victims. He was kept by his kidnapper as personal property instead of being shipped on, and was sexually assaulted in the captor’s home. With a cell phone his captors did not discover, Giddens was able to relay his location to others; when his captor discovered that he had been revealed, he drove the young man back to Birmingham and released him.
Giddens’s case never got anywhere in the Jefferson County court system, though he and others positively identified his kidnapper, and he is still waiting for justice four years later. He now works to provide resources to victims of trafficking in Jefferson County, and to increase the number of resources available.
He told the group about trafficking in Alabama: “I’m from Cullman but I moved to Mountain Brook, so I didn’t know that it happened in all those types of neighborhoods where people don’t think it happens. They think it happens in only poverty-stricken neighborhoods with people that have drug addictions, because those are often the easiest targets, but really those traffickers are looking for anyone who’s vulnerable, and that night I was emotionally vulnerable.”
He continued, “It really can happen to anyone at any time, and the main issue that we’re seeing here in Alabama is familial trafficking: families actually trafficking their own children to pay for rent, pay for food, anything.”
Giddens reported that, according to the Department of Homeland Security, more people–approximately 300,000 currently–live in slavery (through sex trafficking or labor trafficking) in the United States today than at any other time in American history. He said more than 27 million are trafficked worldwide.
For the full presentation, visit www.facebook.com/CullmanTribune/videos/709873919484531/. For more on what is happening in Jefferson County, including anti-trafficking training opportunities, visit www.jeffersoncountychildren.org.
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