Indiana State University Newsroom

University honors organization that aids victims of human trafficking, sexual exploitation

April 8, 2013

An international organization that provides support to victims of human trafficking has received the Community Global Engagement Award from Indiana State University.

The Center for Global Engagement at Indiana State honored Destiny Rescue, an organization that works to free victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in a half-dozen countries around the world. Destiny Rescue helps people, primarily young girls sold to brothels, to leave the sex trade and then gain educational opportunities and employment skills to minimize the risk of returning to their previous lives. The organization uses a relational model by developing a rapport with people, rather than risk traumatizing victims of sexual exploitation by violently raiding a location.

"We are very open about the fact that we are individuals who see the problem of children who are exploited around the world in the sex trade, and we want to do something about it. We have an open invitation for people to join us, utilizing whatever abilities they have to speak out in behalf of these victims," said David Grant, marketing coordinator for Destiny Rescue. "We really want to see a movement and a generation that will rise up and say, ‘This must stop!' That's the way things will change."

Catherine Tucker, assistant professor and coordinator of the clinical mental health counseling program at Indiana State, traveled with members of Destiny Rescue to Cambodia and Thailand in December, and nominated the organization for the Indiana State award.

Tucker described her work with Destiny Rescue as beneficial.

"They are very passionate about what they do and are very interested in getting more people involved from all walks of life," she said.

The international nonprofit organization provides counseling services to victims of sexual exploitation, along with training for working in sewing shops, jewelry making, coffee houses or hair salons. Destiny Rescue rescued 215 children from sexual exploitation in 2012, including 127 children in Thailand. The group ultimately hopes to free 100,000 children from human trafficking and sexual exploitation by 2020.

"The award is recognition that Destiny Rescue is doing really important work and that they have been a good partner for ISU in our quest to become more globally related," Tucker said.

The organization has continued to work with Tucker and Indiana State. In May, a group of graduate students from Indiana State will travel to Thailand and Cambodia to learn more about human trafficking, along with the work that the organization does.

"It seems to me that this is an opportunity to get a very intense experience working with young people in that situation," said Chris McGrew, director of the Center for Global Engagement at Indiana State. "It will allow for a tremendous experience for graduate students who will work as clinical counselors and psychologists. I think the experience will be invaluable."

Destiny Rescue's goal in the U.S. is to generate awareness and support for its international initiatives. The organization views partnerships with institutions of higher education, including with Indiana State, as mutually beneficial, Grant said.

"We believe the decision ISU has made, with the direction of Dr. Tucker is a bold statement regarding global awareness and preparation for students to be effectively implemented in their field," Grant added. "This is so much more than what can be taught in a classroom alone and should be seen as a laudable commitment to providing a complete education that will produce true professionals."

A 2012 report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that more than 2 million children are forced into the sex trade annually.

Destiny Rescue has worked with Indiana State on more than just international travel. During Human Rights Day, a member of the nonprofit agency's staff gave a presentation about the dangers of human trafficking and how sexual exploitation still happens today.

"I think it opened a lot of people's eyes to the idea that human trafficking exists in the world," said Tucker, who attended the Destiny Rescue presentation, "and that it's a global problem."

People can support Destiny Rescue in several different ways, including providing financial support or hosting a jewelry party, where attendees can purchase jewelry made by girls and young women in Destiny Rescue. For more information about the organization, visit

Photo: student in the training hair salon holds an ISU bag. Several ISU students, faculty and staff donated salon supplies. Courtesy Photo by Marah Grant

Photo: Chun, a staff member in Kampong Cham, Cambodia, and Catherine Tucker. Courtesy Photo by Marah Grant

Contact: Catherine Tucker, director of the clinical mental health counseling program, College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana State University, 812-237-2889 or

Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or

Story Highlights

The Center for Global Engagement gave the Community Global Engagement Award to Destiny Rescue, an organization that works to free victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in a half-dozen countries around the world.

See Also:

Students talk up Indiana State University to lawmakers at ISU Day at Statehouse

$1 million gift will create endowed professorship of insurance

Rich schedule of events planned for Black History Month at ISU

On Founders Day, donor goal for Give to Blue Day is a nod to ISU history

Indiana State University announces the fall 2019 dean's list

Indiana State University graduates 782 students