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Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking on the Monterey Peninsula

Published on 10/23/2018

Robin Ledford and Daniel Gonzales

ROBIN Ledford, Executive Director of the Monterey County YWCA, is a distinguished speaker, not only about domestic violence abuse, but human trafficking as well. She is also a member of the Carmel Valley Women’s Club, and in her capacity as both, she was well received as a speaker at the October luncheon. Robin holds a Masters of Jurisprudence in children’s law and policy and a B.S. in Criminology. She has been involved with domestic violence issues for the past 18 years, and created the first center for young victims here on the Central Coast.

She spoke eloquently on the subject, giving an initial history

of the YWCA’s Western Conference Center, which actually was born here at Asilomar in 1913. In 1972, it established the Monterey County Child Abuse Council which focused on the needs of young women. Through the years, the YWCA has introduced programs to counter family violence, stalking, bullying, and has offered counseling and emergency services. A crisis line was launched in 1978. The first crisis shelter, a 7-bedroom house, confidentially located in the area, was opened in 1982.

Robin also explored the human trafficking problem for her audience. In 2017, the first safe house was opened, offering free legal services. “A stay at the safe house is 8 weeks, and women and children could show up with nothing more than the clothes on their backs,” she said.

Legal and financial assistance, as well as job placement is handled by case managers. Mothers can keep their children in local schools, where a safe service will pick them up and deliver them. In custody issues, the courts won’t allow visitation without intervention. 

The problem of human trafficking, she noted, is obtuse. Statistics show that most women and younger girls arrive from the Central Valley, and for  that reason there are posters now placed in bus stations. The travelers are 19 to 23-year olds, but some are 11 to 13. Many are victims of foster care, sex abuse or rape. Agriculture, prostitution, tourist industry and domestic work are the attractions that bring them here. Five percent are actually sex workers. The rest are brought here through manipulation, kidnapping and coercion.

Last year, the YWCA hotline received over 1,000 calls, resulting in 350 new clients in counseling and over 300 court hearings. Advocacy is vital, she noted, and there are many ways in which you can help: become a volunteer or mentor, donate time, money or items, attend fund raising events, support the cause, become a board member, spread the word, be a friend in need.

October is Domestic Violence Prevention month across the U.S., and the YWCA is holding a fundraiser October25th at the International Hotel on Cannery Row. Tickets are $75 and can be obtained by calling the YWCA, 422-8602.

CVWC members suggest we bring a present we can donate to the YWCA at the upcoming

Holiday Extravaganza.