Catherine has supported the survivors served through CourageLIVES in many ways. She has provided workshops and training opportunities for them and has been a support for them as they navigate their journeys. With the impact of Covid-19, Catherine organized some virtual groups where survivors could connect with other survivors. This was a wonderful support and a way to let survivors know they are not alone! Catherine went above and beyond to make sure the women at CourageLIVES had what they needed this spring, and provided donations of things that helped make their daily lives brighter! Last fall, with Catherine’s focus on education and training, she worked collaboratively with many groups, providers and faith-based communities to organize a multi-day training on identifying, addressing and responding to sexual abuse and violence. It was wonderful to see so many diverse people coming together to learn, share and ultimately grow safer communities.
"I cannot tell you how impressed I was with Catherine Wilson’s story about survival as a victim of sexual abuse. She was the main speaker at a Social Media and Human Trafficking Summit in Bedford, New Hampshire. Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies were part of a panel discussion to talk about human trafficking, sextortion, and the dangers of predators in the social media world. Catherine was the main speaker and the reason why the 150 members of the audience attended the summit. As a victim, she lent credibility first hand to how someone can become so vulnerable that they do things that are unimaginable; but as Catherine shares, victims do so in order to simply survive. The listening audience that evening was spellbound as she shared the gruesome details of her ordeal. Her story is gut wrenching. She chronicles her journey from victim, escape, and eventually survival. It is definitely a story I encourage everyone to listen to."
"Catherine, You are amazing, and so brave! Thank you so much for coming to talk to Bonny Eagle Middle School! Sharing your story the way you do blows me away. You are saving lives! Your Starfish story is so beautiful it made me cry! It feels that way too, working in education. But you are right, it matters to each one, and we have to try! What a perfect analogy! The DA gave good advice about how to go about helping students we are concerned about. Keep fighting the good fight!"
"The messages I got from Catherine were huge – no matter what you might go through in life, if you work hard enough and stay strong, then truly anything is possible. I don’t think Catherine should change anything about her presentation, it was extremely powerful and REAL and I feel like if she keeps it real, so that it will affect everyone in one way or another. I’m really glad she shared her story with us, and I hope to see her again so I can really get the chance to thank her."
Stop Trafficking US and Catherine Wilson have been wonderful community partners with the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office in working on prevention and education to fight child abuse and human trafficking. As a survivor, Catherine shares her lived experience so that people can learn how to prevent this terrible tragedy from victimizing others. We are grateful to have Catherine and Stop Trafficking US in Cumberland County because of their tireless work to end this practice of modern slavery. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Catherine and Stop Trafficking US for their community work. We look forward to continuing our strong bond and helping more survivors become thrivers. Thank you Stop Trafficking US!
District Attorney, Cumberland County
Catherine Wilson has been a champion of Maine’s most vulnerable children for many years and is now taking her boundless energy to bring about changes at the national level. Ms. Wilson’s commitment to healing children who have suffered the trauma of sexual abuse spans from providing direct support to youth in Maine’s juvenile justice system to participating in the President’s Task Force to Stop Human Trafficking. Ms. Wilson and Stop Trafficking U.S. have been integral in shaping Maine’s sex trafficking laws and they have brought several national experts to Maine to help schools, faith-based organizations and other youth-serving agencies improve efforts to prevent and heal child sexual abuse. I’ve seen first hand how Ms. Wilson’s passion has created positive changes in the lives of individual youth and in how caring adults work together to keep all Maine children safe. Catherine Wilson is a living example of what Maya Angelou meant when she said, ‘I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.’ From her pain, Ms. Wilson established Stop Trafficking U.S. and has been tirelessly working to protect Maine children. Thank you, Catherine!
Assistant District Attorney, Cumberland County
“God gave his hardest battles to his strongest warriors” a man said to me as we hugged each other with empathy for the experience we shared of walking a path of recovery from human trafficking. Early in my recovery I found it hard to accept my experiences and felt I was damaged goods tossed to the wolves for dinner. Living in a world with strong judgements for one's experiences in life; “who was I now?”, “Where is my life going?”, and “how to come up from the pits of hell?”, I asked myself. I felt a strong pull to help others my entire life, possibly what caused me to be vulnerable to individuals who had a tendency to abuse; feeling their pain that they lack ability to express in healthy ways drew me to wanting to help. Only months after being rescued from a small room where I laid on the floor crawling in a ball waiting for the next man I was ordered to service, I found myself aching for death, dying to escape the daily misery I felt and the vivid nightmare that continued to plague my mind. I attempted to end my life, nearly accomplishing my goal. I was saved by an angel in the night and brought to the hospital to recover. I soon found recovery for my addiction and mental health. As my journey continued, I longed for a stable life with my children; watching them grow and learn, feeling their hugs and love, and teaching them to prosper into compassionate humans. I enrolled in college to finish my degree and began working a job in recovery. Fighting for my kids from my ex-abuser became the daily hell I soon faced, continuing to learn of the abuse they experienced and praying for help. I became overwhelmed for the items I lacked at home and my living situation had become uneasy as well. A landlord who seemed professional transformed quickly into an abuser who harassed me verbally and by watching video cameras that I begged to be shut down. As I faced these struggles I became ill and doctors longed to find what was causing the debilitating pain in my body; they concluded months later with multiple sclerosis (MS). Financially strapped after being laid off, a single mom of multiple children, and soon facing homelessness, I reached out for support to find loving hands and hearts who lifted my family up. Thanks to the support my children had new clothing to begin school, we had the financial ability to move, the help of several wonderful humans helping us move, and support to encourage self-care with a gift of massage therapy. The support of people through Stop Trafficking has help my family and me to create a beautiful and relaxing home where we can find healing together. Thank you to all those who help support Stop Trafficking. I am more grateful than words can express, as I am able to finally enjoy life again and have been reminded of my value in life. Much love from myself and children. The children have said “I love my new home, we actually have our own space!”, “ I enjoy showing my new clothes off. I fit in with the kids at school this year!”, and “ I’m happy I don’t have to look over my shoulder so to say. I can finally just play in our yard with my brothers and sister and have fun”. They expressed their warm gratitude for al the help.
"Kristina and I want to personally thank you again for helping to educate and bring awareness to sex trafficking. We are still speechless, as we admire your strength, courage, and confidence to share your story. Our peers were fully engaged and absolutely loved meeting you. You have such an amazing presence and character. We are so grateful for the opportunity to have you present to us today. I am sure this will not be the last time we reach out to you. If you need help with your organization, Stop Trafficking US, please don't hesitate to reach out to us."
"Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your investment in this absolutely necessary cause to stop human trafficking. I'm 73 and don't want to die without hope that all vulnerable children to include my great grandchildren remain at high risk of such sinister evil assaults upon their whole beings. May God Almighty bless your diligent efforts to stop human trafficking."
"Catherine spoke at the Bath United Methodist Church yesterday and is an incredible gifted speaker on this highly relevant topic. Her story will leave you shell shocked and then newly motivated to bring this horrendous issue to light and stop it."
"If we look back over history, we see that many great leaders survived adversity and hardships that you and I find difficult to contemplate. They fought to bring us rights and freedoms that most of us take for granted today. I believe Catherine is one of those leaders. She is a leader our great grandchildren will read about on some device that we cannot imagine just yet. They will know her name, and they will take it for granted that children in their world are not sexually abused…"
"At Keep Kids Safe, I learned about our nation’s history regarding child abuse. I pledge to be a connector to help end child abuse. We can make historic progress together.”
"I always thought prostitution and sex slaves were just in the movies, or only happen in Las Vegas or big cities, never here in mine. It’s crazy how violent and disgusting that world is, and it’s not always by choice that the girls get bought into that world. I’m so glad you made it out, you should share in other high schools because you could help a girl get out of that life that is scared to tell anyone. By hearing your story, they could come out of their shell. You could save someone’s life without even knowing it."
"I was so moved by your story this past week. You brought home in vivid language and statistics the suffering going on all around us. After your talk, as I retook the podium, I was struck by the number of people with tears in their eyes, far greater than I’ve ever seen before. It’s not the first time we have been moved, but it was the first time so many were so moved. You are a voice out of the dark bringing this national tragedy into the light. I can only imagine the constant suffering that goes on long after an assault and how it impacts so many others. So much needless suffering, so much sadness. I only have one question for you. How can I help?"
"Catherine brings a message of hope that comes from her own struggles, but she has also deftly poses a challenge - to work on healing at the level of self and to then apply your healed self the reaching out to protect the vulnerable and assist those with unmet needs. Catherine, I have done various community projects over the years. One thing that really bugged me was being put on a pedestal. "You are so wonderful! I could never do what you are doing!" I took it as a way for people to excuse themselves for putting effort into a project. I can accept excuses. That's OK. But it seems at times that the excuses come to easily. Carry on! Love your message. Love you."
"Catherine spoke to my Rotary Club and received a standing ovation...this happens rarely, an indication of the power of her presentation."
"Catherine, I read your heart wrenching story in the Portsmouth Herald. I want to share the respect and admiration I have for you for telling your story. Your courage will give strength to those suffering as you have to ask for the help they need. Thank you for raising awareness with StopTraffickingUS. You are an inspiration!
“Catherine is an exceptionally powerful speaker as she shares both her personal experience with homelessness and sex trafficking as well as her passionate belief in her goal of bringing awareness to this awful reality and her vision of ending this horrifying condition for young women in our communities. I promise you will learn a lot -maybe more than you’d like to know about this problem and will feel your heart breaking. But Catherine ends her message, not with hopelessness, but with conviction that together we can take action to do more.”
"I have had the true honor of having Catherine on Issues That Matter as a guest to discuss her commitment to a cause that, no doubt, evokes horrific memories of a tragic youth. Despite that, Catherine regularly and vigorously exposes her past to pursue a heartfelt drive to protect a succeeding generation from similar fate. I was honored then and I will be further honored when she co-hosts a couple of installments of Issues That Matter in the very near future. I strongly urge all to become aware of human trafficking."
“Catherine Wilson pulled this wonderful amazing group of speakers from across the states to promote awareness collaborate within the Community. "We are the Ambassadors" - the knowledge and tools I gained at Keep Maine Kids Safe can be shared to further the education for the next generation to Keep Kids Safe. This conference was the first of its kind with so much $ raised to offer it FREE to ALL... with CEU credits as an added bonus. What a mighty God we serve- Let Him move the mountains and break the chain of abuse be broken so no child will grow up to be that hurtful adult or abandoned by those who are supposes to protect him or her from harm. May you continue to shine the light at Stop Trafficking US. I pray that the information and knowledge gained will roar with mighty force to Keep Kids Safe and help people everywhere to understand that Faith plays a huge role to abuse -prevention and also forgiveness.”
“Education, raising the level of awareness in us all, is an essential tool in combating sex trafficking. Community involvement is a critical first step.”
“The Keep Maine Kids Safe conference was amazing! It was informative, connecting and a wonderful step for making childhood safe for all! What a humbling experience to connect powerful humans who are doing this work. Thanks to Stop Trafficking US and Catherine Wilson for spreading awareness and being part of the solution.”
"Faith related questions persist, and when answered within the constructs of their faith, those answers will promote healing. It is essential to be trauma informed! For child protective forces and faith based groups to work together for the benefit of victims. I now realize how important it is to check personal secular biases at the door when dealing with child sexual assault victims."
"I want to thank you for talking about the surviving of the surviving, for your eye contact, and for the way you appealed to each person’s strength while de-stigmatizing weakness. You’re a wonder!"
"Catherine delivers a sensitive, compassionate, empathic, and detailed account of her own life with brutal honesty and directness. She details how low self-esteem, internal family dysfunction, sexual abuse by close family members, contribute to young women becoming sex slaves. Her story is ultimately one of personal triumph which she is now using to help others avoid or become free of the sex trade."