SMC PSI BETA Seminar to focus on Human Trafficking & Sex Slavery 2014

PSI BETA, the Honor Society in Psychology of Spartanburg Methodist College, will host Patricia S. Ravenhorst, Director and immigration attorney of the South Carolina Immigrant Victim Network, a program of the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network (SCVAN), on Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 3 p.m. in the SMC Davis Mission Chapel to discuss Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery.  The public is invited and encouraged to attend.

Human sex trafficking is the most common form of modern-day slavery and it is the fastest-growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world. Estimates place the number of its domestic and international victims in the millions, mostly females and children enslaved in the commercial sex industry for little or no money.

The terms human trafficking and sex slavery usually conjure up images of young girls beaten and abused in faraway places, like Eastern Europe, Asia, or Africa.   Actually, human sex trafficking and sex slavery happen locally in cities and towns, both large and small, throughout the United States, right in citizens’ backyards. The US not only faces an influx of international victims but also has its own homegrown problem of interstate sex trafficking of minors.

Today, the business of human sex trafficking is organized and violent. These abusive methods of control impact the victims both physically and mentally. Similar to cases involving Stockholm Syndrome, these victims, who have been abused over an extended period of time, begin to feel an attachment to the perpetrator. This paradoxical psychological phenomenon makes it difficult for law enforcement to breach the bond of control, albeit abusive, the trafficker holds over the victim.

Ravenhorst has served as the director of the Immigrant Victim Program since 2009 where she works directly with human trafficking (HT) victims in South Carolina. She also regularly trains advocates and law enforcement on HT where she currently serves on the SC HT Taskforce.  Her work with the Immigrant Victim Network is dedicated to ensuring meaningful access to justice for immigrant victims of crime throughout South Carolina.  She demonstrates her passion for the needs of immigrant victims of crime by frequently speaking to immigrant groups, victim service providers, judges and law enforcement officials regarding the rights of immigrant victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.

Prior to joining SCVAN, Ravenhorst practiced law in the areas of immigration, employment and general litigation with Wyche, Burgess, Freeman & Parham in Greenville, South Carolina. Her work experience also includes an internship with the South African Secretariat for Safety and Security in Pretoria, South Africa, where she worked collaboratively with the South African Police Service and the Security Officer’s Board to propose revisions to South Africa’s laws and regulations governing South Africa’s private security industry.  She graduated summa cum laude from Florida State University with a degree in International Affairs emphasizing Latin American studies.  She then graduated from Duke University with both her law degree and master’s degree in political science with a certification in Latin American studies.  Ms. Ravenhorst is licensed to practice before both federal and state courts in South Carolina and is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the SC Access to Justice Commission’s Language Access Committee.

In honor of her work with immigrant victims and her advocacy for immigrant rights,  Ravenhorst was honored to receive the Greenville County Guardian ad Litem Program’s “Ethel M. Piper Angel Award”; to be named as one of Greenville’s “Best and Brightest Under 35” by the Greenville Magazine and as one of Greenville’s “Most Beautiful Women” by Greenville’s TALK Magazine; to receive the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leadership Award for International Diversity and the SC Lawyer’s Weekly Leadership in Law Award; and to be a member of the 2012 class of the Liberty Fellowship.  She is currently the President of the FSU Flying High Circus Alumni Association and is a former Board member of the Center for Developmental Services, Safe Harbor, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Development Board, Greenville Sister Cities International and Greenville’s Alianza Hispana (formerly the Alliance for Collaboration with the Hispanic Community).

Ravenhorst graduated Summa Cum Laude from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Affairs emphasizing Latin American Studies in 1997. In 2000, she proceeded to Duke University and finished with honors both Law and Master’s Degree in Political Science with a certification in Latin American Studies.