Within the confines of Atlanta, Georgia, there is a deep-seeded issue lurking among the dark corners of this city. Sex trafficking has found homage in the bustling transportation capital of the world. Victims of this heinous crime are manipulated into giving up their bodies, their dignity, and their hope for the promises of a better life. However, when there are negative forces, there are positives that counter those forces’ efforts. Activist groups geared toward providing a safe haven for these victims and their families have been working incredibly hard to simmer, if not diminish, the Atlanta sex trafficking plague completely.
Groups such as Out of Darkness and BeLoved Atlanta have created outreach programs, assistance, and housing for men and women who have become trapped in sex trafficking. Atlanta is the city of music, movies, and transportation, however, it is up to the citizens of this city, as well as, the power and input activist groups like Out of Darkness and Beloved Atlanta deploy that sex trafficking victims no longer feel alone and trapped, but feel there is a way out and people that can help. Through the power of the various marketing strategies deployed by Out of Darkness and Beloved Atlanta, victims and volunteers are given the resources needed to counter the efforts of the sex trafficking world.
To reach the population and start a following towards a greater good, activist groups have to become excellent marketers of their own craft. No longer can the “about me” be the only source of identity for the public to digest, instead, in the technologically advanced world, citizens are becoming more and more investigators of the groups they identify with and support. Lateral and vertical reading or investigating is becoming the tools for proper analyzation of organizations; looking deeper into the involvement of the group, and the trail of social media and physical involvement of the group has become the staple for a supporter to agree and understand.
Moreover, the design and content rhetoric of an organization’s online presence must adhere directly to the root of the activist’s mission statement. A proper and thorough staple of content rhetoric is the vernacular deployed by the group to convey a message earnestly and thoughtfully. Furthermore, design rhetoric focuses on the eye-catch-ability of the platform; the color schemes, the use of animations, and the transition of information either on an infinite page or on several tabs are essential to the digestibility of an organization’s digital identity.
Digital activism is the basis of the modern era outreach movement. With the wide variety of social media avenues and online tools, activist groups can showcase their mission statements and purpose much more accessible than ever before. It becomes an interesting median for activist groups when determining the value and weight employed on media outlets rather than in-person or physical environments.
Even though most individuals are getting information on the digital sphere, the power of physical and personable messaging still stands as a basis for any organization to be deemed legit and accreditable. Referred to as hybridity, activist groups have to align their movements and focal points on the two mediums (the physical and digital) for the public to react and trust the overall and specific messages of the organization accordingly.
Out of Darkness is a ministry of the Atlanta Dream Center, which is a Christian based organization whose mission is to bring underprivileged individuals back to God. Atlanta Dream Center created Out of Darkness in the efforts of focusing outreach for sex trafficking victims that feel abandoned by their Christian God. The Out of Darkness website not only provides information about sex trafficking but also volunteer opportunities for the communities to become involved in rescuing sex trafficked victims.
BeLoved Atlanta is a “community of women who have lived through trafficking, prostitution, and addiction.” Since March of 2013, this organization has provided programs and residential housing to women who are seeking freedom from the restraints of sex trafficking and prostitution. BeLoved Atlanta is essentially a restoration program facility providing education and employment opportunities as well as a “graduate program” that serves as an accountability sub-program for the organization’s participants.
On their “About Us” page, they state that they are dedicated to seeing a community that views survivors as leaders and not criminals. On BeLoved Atlanta’s website, there is nothing more than a few tabs, which showcase volunteer options, residential wishlists, and donation opportunities.
Out of Darkness and BeLoved Atlanta are two organizations that serve the sex-trafficking population of Atlanta in two very different ways. The first, provides Christian influenced counseling and resources, while the other focuses on self-development and growth. However, both groups have their place in the fundamental outreach they provide to the sex trafficking community.
Touching on lateral viewing of Out of Darkness, all their social media icons are positioned for easy access, which only projects a more professional and well-rounded view of the organization. Furthermore, even after reloading the page a few times and waiting for everything to load, the Twitter feed is not available even when it stated it would. Moreover, Out of Darkness’ Google+ icon goes nowhere. When clicked, it opens a page indicating that Out of Darkness no longer has a Google+ account.
Out of Darkness does not have their Instagram social media link in the “Get Connected” banner. However, after researching the name on the platform, they do in fact have an account. The account has 104 posts and several “story” icons that showcase the various programs offered by the activist group. The design rhetoric of this organization has grass-root formations, but an earnest approach to delivering a more seamless design is a must for a more adequate and digestible initial digital presence for their movement.
The information presented on Out of Darkness’ social medias align perfectly with their website, with a little more touch of digital aesthetics. The lateral viewing results are consistent with what is viewed on the domain, and the passive research used to evaluate the domains lateral viewing is truthfully projected. It was clear what the message of the organization was on all their platforms, and on each one varied in the content rhetoric, however, the messages were the same only the way presented varied.
The lateral viewing of BeLoved Atlanta is something of a masterpiece. All their medias are positioned at the bottom of the static page. However, it is clear which media outlets receive the most interactions from their audience; Instagram, even though still light on the numbers, is engaged with more viewers than the others. However, as a collection of medias, all Beloved Atlanta’s following does not mirror the interactions at all. With 3,135 followers on Instagram alone and an average of twenty or so likes on a post translates to a need for more integrated SEO and community engagement.
Even though their posts are unique and eye-catching, both in video form, still picture, and infographic, the accounts are not receiving the hype they should be getting. However, for the sake of lateral investigating, Beloved Atlanta stays consistent with their messages and provides different digestible content on all their platforms for viewers to engage with and feel apart of something bigger. Beloved Atlanta tends to create immediate eye-catching and thought-provoking posts to present their vision and mission statements.
Vertically speaking, Out of Darkness’ compared to BeLoved Atlanta’s static appearance and information on their respective domains is very different. Vertically analyzing, Out of Darkness is more interactive with videos and hyperlinks all throughout the homepage with several links that provide information about the organizations sub-programs and outreach systems. While on the other hand, Beloved Atlanta does not do any of these things. On their platform, they showcase five tabs, with the main ones being “About” and “Take Action.”
Vertically observing, Beloved Atlanta differs in the amount of information displayed initially, however, when clicking on the sub links, viewers are given more information about opportunities at the organization and ways to volunteer. Vertically, Out of Darkness showcases more information on their domain; so an individual who is not laterally investigating their organization could understand their mission statement and purpose by merely looking at their domain. Oppositely, Beloved Atlanta’s desktop platform provides enough information to convert viewers into volunteers, but not enough to convey a fully well-rounded institution from face-value.
Within the vertical sphere, Beloved Atlanta lacks enough information to project the full volume of what the institution stands behind; instead, it uses the various other platforms and lateral viewing or passive digestible information to convey their mission statement and purpose.
The lateral position Beloved Atlanta has in the city and community reaches to the far ends of the spectrum. At the 9th annual IATSE Charity Golf Tournament, hosted by IATSE locals 479 and 600, Beloved Atlanta received 26,000 dollars from the tournament, which indicates an honest and respected viewing of Beloved Atlanta by other organizations that advocate for women’s suffrage in sex trafficking. IATSE stands for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and so it just shows that Beloved Atlanta has influenced and made a name for themselves in the public eye and in the professional identity department if they are to of received a significant donation from IATSE.
On the IATSE 479 organization website, there is a quote from Amelia Quinn, the president and founder of Beloved Atlanta, where she says, “BeLoved Atlanta believes in the importance of individualized care. Through the donations from the golf tournament, each resident will participate in drug and alcohol rehab, counseling, education and employment. It is amazing to watch this community rally around survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and invest in their future. We are blown away by your generosity! Thank you.” It is clear that Beloved Atlanta is flourishing in the donations and reputation category for an organization.
From a design rhetoric perspective, Out of Darkness has, on the surface, a pleasantly pleasing layout. The color scheme is consistent, and the subtle font changes make for a more welcoming approach. However, it is evident that this organization used WordPress to create their domain. At the top of the website is a WordPress control bar that takes away the legitimacy of the movement only in the design portion of things. It is understandable that the WordPress navigation bar is not intentional and has probably been forgotten about; however, it is still an eyesore. Out of Darkness also has subtle faded designs positioned behind the main title and as a backdrop on the articles and videos. It is gray, which does not fit the color scheme of the rest of the platform.
The static page of Beloved Atlanta differs vastly from that of Out of Darkness. The color scheme is represented in the logo design and the street art presented on the first page. The design rhetoric of the platform is bright, welcoming, and immediately gives off the impression of understandability. The first link a viewer can click is “Learn More,” this link takes individuals to the same location as the “About Us” tab, giving two opportunities for viewers to see the same information. However, it can be inferred the “Learn More” should be more focused on outreach instead of the lateral viewing position. The first words viewers see are big and bold, “We are a community of women who have lived through trafficking, prostitution and addiction,” by showcasing this, Beloved Atlanta is making a stand on their identity and understandability for the victims that find their organization as well as volunteers willing to help.
Scrolling down to the bottom of Beloved Atlanta is a “Latest Update” carousel. However, “latest update” does not seem to define this medium addition accurately. It is a collection of quotes and iconic Instagram quality images that showcase a welcoming environment. It just so happens to be that the images on this carousel are hyperlinked to their Instagram page. By using a carousel plugin, Beloved Atlanta is converting vertical readers into lateral viewers by hyperlinking all the images to their Instagram. As it stands, most of Beloved Atlanta’s following and engagement are on their Instagram, so it is rightfully so that they hyperlink all their content to that platform.
Content rhetoric is a property that is the basis of information. Content must be understandable, relatable, and thought-provoking. The power of content and the vernacular used can make or break an organization by the shier ability to transmit the information accurately to the audience.
Out of Darkness takes content rhetoric in a different way than Beloved Atlanta. The volume of words on the platform surpasses that of Beloved Atlanta by a long shot. There are call to action links, articles upon articles of information, and several tabs that present even more information. On their static page, Out of Darkness has two videos, with one continually changing per each visit that transmits viable information about the organization in a medium most people are likely to use.
Furthermore, Out of Darkness uses paragraphs and lengthy messages to convey their purpose. However, only in the third paragraph on the main page does a viewer get an accurate mission statement from the organization— “… to REACH, RESCUE, and RESTORE all victims of commercial sexual exploitation, that the glory of God may be known.” But the information conveyed in the consistent video positioned above the paragraphs relays the information of the paragraphs accurately and quickly. By doing this, viewers can understand the organization if only on the surface tremendously easier.
Out of Darkness also provides viewers so much more information on the various tabs than Beloved Atlanta. They have tabs such as Events, Resources, Chapters & Partners, and Blog. While on Beloved Atlanta, there are only five tabs that convey their message and present their direction more minimally. Out of Darkness also has a blog tab which houses various articles written about program updates and community outreach events the organization was apart of or hosted. The content displayed on Out of Darkness is like a Google search for information on Atlanta sex trafficking and porn rescuing while Beloved Atlanta is like a Google search for information on Atlanta’s women sex trafficking outreach and involvement.
Beloved Atlanta’s content is very minimal. If a person wishes to become involved in the organization, the information they present is very straight forward. On the “Volunteer with Beloved Atlanta” sub-tab, there are three available options for volunteers: activities, transportation, and host family.
What Beloved Atlanta conveys in their overall content is a means to direct volunteers to the organization as quickly as possible, for example, they have consistent call to actions and “apply today” tabs to convert viewers into helpful hands instead of passing-byers. However, this differs from Out of Darkness tremendously. The content on Out of Darkness is filled with viable resources to get individuals into the position to volunteer quickly. They provide resource information along with a few biblical verses to project their message.
The property of hybridity is essential for any organization to become a staple in the field they choose. Hybridity focuses on the physical and the digital components and how organizations use these two mediums to convey their messages. Without hybridity, an organization loses its credibility as an institution and community outreach group and just becomes a collection of information. Drawing the fine line in importance between digital and physical is dependent on the organization’s main goals and intentions.
Out of Darkness harnesses the power of hybridity without question. The organization has chapter groups and affiliated partners. Upon clicking on the “Chapters & Partners” tab on Out of Darkness’ website, visitors are provided a list of groups that advocate in similar ways to Out of Darkness, including Beloved Atlanta. Out of Darkness has partnered with several churches too in order to keep honest to their mission of rescuing people back to Christianity who are victims.
The hybridity of Out of Darkness transcends into various areas of the sex trafficking world; women apart of “Club Outreach” go into strip clubs and seek to rescue the women who are victims of sex trafficking. Moreover, “Adopt a Block” is an outreach program that facilitates volunteers who wish to visit women outside hostels and providing them with toiletries and other products.
Out of Darkness is also affiliated with several other organizations which showcase that the activist group is working towards fulfilling their goals and not their numbers. EndSlavery.org, an activist group advocating for the defense against the slavery institution that encompasses sex trafficking. They have partnered with Out of Darkness to provide resources specific to sex trafficking for their viewers and supports. The hybridity this showcases is the vast amount of resources and groups that align with Out of Darkness publicly. By other organizations publicly condoning the mission statement and overall purpose of Out of Darkness, the legitimacy, and truthfulness of this activist group reaches new heights.
As mentioned earlier, Beloved Atlanta has volunteer options that involve the public and the digital. An applicant can register to become a host family, provide transportation for victims, or become involved in activities at the program center. Beloved Atlanta, has specific roles volunteers can obtain as long as passing a background is completed. Looking at the hybridity of Beloved Atlanta has minorly been touched on earlier; however, it must be pointed out the endorsement this organization has obtained from other groups. USIAHT or U.S Institute Against Human Trafficking has information regarding Beloved Atlanta on their domain for specific references to women suffrage in sex trafficking.
Out of Darkness and Beloved Atlanta are two organizations that provide resource, outreach, and volunteer opportunities to counter sex trafficking. With both organizations taking different approaches to counter the plague, volunteers and visitors to their respective domains receive digestible information about the activist groups’ mission statements. The lateral and vertical viewings associated with these two groups differ, yet, also fit the scenario and purpose they house. Out of Darkness provides an abundance of outside resources while Beloved Atlanta gives specific organization situated information. The two groups design and create very different viral content, but suit the overall guidelines of their mission. Moreover, the physical and digital presence of these two groups is transparent and diverse. Both groups engage in the public in different ways and with different identities but provide an equal safe haven for the victims. It is without a doubt that Out of Darkness and Beloved Atlanta have one singular goal in mind, but are taking a different approach to accomplishing it. It is through these various avenues that victims can receive the most information and resources.
“2019 Golf Tournament Raises $26,000 for Charity.” IATSE Local 479, 19 May 2019, https://iatse479.org/2019-golf-tournament-raises-26000-dollars-charity.
“BeLoved Atlanta.” BeLoved Atlanta, https://www.belovedatlanta.org/.
“BeLoved Atlanta.” TraffickingFree Zone, 15 Oct. 2019, https://usiaht.org/traffickingfreezone/resources/beloved-atlanta/.
Out of Darkness, https://outofdarkness.org/.