Criminology student hopes to raise awareness of human sex trafficking through play

Abigail Howard, an FAU criminology student, will direct a play she wrote called “Only One” on Feb. 9 at the University Theater — and present a Q&A on the topic with experts. It is free for students.


“Only One” flyer. “Only One” is a play designed to raise awareness of human sex trafficking. Photo courtesy of Project Micah 6:8

Haley Flamenbaum, Contributing Writer

“Only One” will play at 2 p.m and 6 p.m. at the University Theater on Feb. 9. Go here to reserve your tickets. Tickets are free for students. 

FAU criminology student Abigail Howard was the recipient of the FAU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice’s 2019 Woman of Distinction award for her non-profit organization, Project Micah 6:8 and her activism to prevent human sex trafficking. Through the non-profit, Howard has helped to create “safehouses,” or a place where human sex trafficking victims can find safety and protection. 

On Sunday, she’s bringing her activism to campus. 

Her next venture is a play at FAU coming Feb. 9 at 2 p.m  and 6 p.m at the University Theater that will highlight three human sex trafficking victims’ journeys. Following the 55-minute play, a panel of experts on trafficking from Mexico, South Florida Human Trafficking Task Force, Palm Beach County Sherrif’s Office, Child Rescue Coalition, Glory House of Miami, and USF will participate in a Q&A.

“The importance for having an understanding on human trafficking, especially for college students, is to create a bigger picture in anyone’s mind as to what to look for, see and pay attention to,” Howard said, “because everyone has the opportunity to stop or help a victim of human sex trafficking.

Human trafficking “involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act,” according to Blue Campaign, a public awareness initiative from Homeland Security to educate people about trafficking. 

The play is called “Only One” because only one percent of human sex trafficking victims are rescued, according to the trafficking prevention non-profit A21.

The play is about three victims for human sex trafficking. One is a female who is from a foster system who runs away. Another one is a female that has a great life, but she decided to follow her dream toward becoming an actress or model. The third is a boy who met someone online. The addition of adding a boy in the play breaks the stigma, Howard said, that boys are not sex trafficked and victimized. 

The play illustrates “a moment in time that [the audience] will always think back to and think, I experienced something, and I have the ability to do something with it,” Howard said. 

How does human trafficking impact society?

According to The International Labour Organization, a United Nations organization which promotes decent work by setting international labor standards, estimates that there are approximately 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally.

Project Micah 6:8, which began in 2017, serves to spread awareness about the reality of human trafficking as well recognize the importance of aftercare provided by legitimate safehouses for victims. 

Betty Laura is the executive director of Glory House of Miami and has worked there for over 30 years. The Glory House of Miami is a Christ-centered non-profit organization that helps sex trafficking victims find a place to live. 

Laura said that the Glory House is located in Miami because it is one of the top cities for trafficking. In that regard, Florida is the third largest state in the United States for human trafficking. 

Laura stated that spreading recognition through colleges and universities are especially important because trafficking can happen anywhere. 

As well as serving the community, the Glory House of Miami partnered with Project Micah 6:8 for the purpose of spreading knowledge and also working with like-minded people. These two non-profits are just two examples out of many to help restore the lives of those affected by human trafficking. 

Dr. Calli Cain, an assistant professor at FAU’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and human trafficking educator — has worked hard to inform students about the reality of human trafficking. Cain stated that human trafficking “is really a crime hidden in plain sight” due to the fact that society is not aware of the indicators and signs of human trafficking. 

In a sense, Cain stated, Florida has a high demand for human trafficking due to tourism, transportation over seas and agriculture. 

Both Laura and Cain described the importance of recognition about this topic because it is a relatively new term and because it can happen anywhere.

As of this moment Cain said, in Palm Beach County there are over thirty active cases dealing with human trafficking. 

Haley Flamenbaum is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].