Q: What is The Defender Foundation?
We are a not-for-profit IRS 501(c)3, Non‐Governmental Organization (NGO) formed to fight human trafficking.
Q: What is an NGO?
A non-governmental organization (NGO) is any non-profit, voluntary citizens’ group which is organized on a local, national or international level. Task-oriented and driven by people with a common interest, NGOs perform a variety of service and humanitarian functions; bring citizen concerns to Governments; advocate and monitor policies; and encourage political participation through provision of information. Some are organized around specific issues, such as human rights, the environment, or health. They provide analysis and expertise, serve as early warning mechanisms, and help to monitor and implement international agreements.
The Defender Foundation’s “common interest” (as noted above) is to eradicate Human Trafficking by:
- Raising Awareness
- Retrieving Victims
- Delivering Victims to Safe Shelters
- Providing Resources for Victims
- Providing Continuing After Care for victims
- Assisting with the Arrest and Prosecution of Human Trafficking Criminals.
Q: Who Created The Defender Foundation?
Dan Benedict and 5 other initial board members started The Defender Foundation. Our Board has a varied background which includes individuals with ex-military and ex-law enforcement experience, ministry experience, a practicing psychologist specializing in abuse victims, and post graduate students majoring in Counseling.
Dan Benedict, Founder and Shield Teams Director at The Defender Foundation, was a U.S. Army Veteran who served in multiple units including the 327th Infantry, the 101st Airborne, 36th Infantry, 5th Calvary, and 3rd Armored Division along with other military units. Dan served as a Squad Leader, Team Leader and trained in small unit tactics which included logistics and counter-terrorism. Dan was a CJSTC Florida Law Enforcement Academy graduate, and ranked third in his class. Dan’s experience includes being the proprietor of multiple businesses; he was a former commercial mortgage broker; a former Critical Care Nurse; a former SCUBA Instructor, and even a former Surety Agent. Any agency or NGO wanting to work with or partner with The Defender Foundation, Inc., can inquire through our Open Book Policy as to the full backgrounds of the board members and their qualifications.
Q: Why was The Defender Foundation formed?
Deciding to launch The Defender Foundation really seemed like the logical next step in a process of gradually having our eyes opened to the profundity of the problem. First, we simply became aware of the problem. As we became aware, we began to investigate, and we were inspired by the actions of others who were already engaged in the battle against Human Trafficking. Then we discovered that not only is Human Trafficking a huge problem overseas, in third-world countries, where we vaguely assumed it existed and thus was too far away for us to be effected or to be effectual in changing … but then we found out that the problem exists here in the United States. When we began looking into the national issue of Human Trafficking, and the speed with which it is spreading, we knew that being bystanders was no longer an option. We had to get involved, and we had to take a stand. We just could not close our eyes to the problem any longer.
Q: What is the purpose or goal of The Defender Foundation?
Our goal is to be an advocate in every sense of the word. As advocates we Prevent – Provide – Raise Awareness – Prosecute AND Support other NGOs and Agencies involved in Human Trafficking.
Prevent - Educating organizations, ministries and education systems who have local and/or overseas impact. These organizations will educate the sources where victims are cultivated.
Provide - 24 hour Victim Transport and Tip Line for Victims, Statewide. Statewide Pickup Service. Plug the victims in with care provider agencies, Law Enforcement and follow up services. Raise Awareness. Written and visual media. Support of other NGOs. Education of membership base as they become force multipliers.
Prosecute - Our goal is that every rescue, results in a prosecution. We will alert all relevant law enforcement agencies and work with the victims in securing their testimonies, to result in prosecution of Human Traffickers and those that would buy, sell or sexually exploit the victims.
Support other NGO’s - The Defender Foundation seeks to be an NGO distinguished by its comrade service to other NGOs. Volunteer projects for members. Training. Sharing of resources. The fight against human trafficking is bigger than any one organization. To be effective in this fight, we need to learn to work together and help one another out.
Myth: Human trafficking is another word for human smuggling.
Reality: Smuggling and trafficking are two different crimes. Both are Federal crimes in the United States. While smuggling requires illegal border crossing, trafficking may not. Human trafficking involves commercial sex acts or labor or services that are induced through force, fraud, or coercion.
Myth: Real victims of trafficking will ask for help or assistance and willingly self-identify as a victim of a crime.
Reality: Victims of trafficking often do not immediately seek help or admit to being victims of a crime, due to mistrust of law enforcement, fear of physical harm coming to themselves or family members, self-blame, or training by the traffickers. As with any case of mental, emotional and/or physical abuse, trust takes time to develop. Continued trust-building and patient interviewing is often required before authorities, care givers, etc. can get the whole story.