Susan Peters, B.A. '86
Susan Peters is founder and executive director of Unbound Now, a multinational anti-human trafficking organization headquartered in Waco. She admits that human trafficking was not on her radar after graduation. It was not until traveling abroad that she felt called to service in this area.
“We went to different countries and started seeing human trafficking in every country,” Peters says. “I was so burdened over time that I felt like I had to do something about it. That’s when everything changed, and we started Unbound Now.”
Although initially expecting to do more international anti-human trafficking work, Peters quickly learned human trafficking is close to home. She worked with a detective who gauged human trafficking interest in the community by placing an online advertisement for a minor to be sold. More than 100 people responded within 12 hours. One of the first victims Peters met was a 14-year-old American who was being held with other girls in local apartments.
“They didn’t think anyone cared what was happening to them,” Peters says. “We cared, but we didn’t know. That made us realize we had to focus on what was happening in our communities with American kids who are being trafficked and then build a model where we can expand from there and do international work.”
Peters founded the Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition — the local genesis of Unbound Now — along with other community leaders in 2014. The coalition identifies, serves, defends and restores human trafficking survivors with assistance from multiple law enforcement agencies, attorneys, advocates, social services providers, medical professionals, educators and community leaders.
“Our advocates run into the pain every day,” Peters says. “They’re doing the work of walking alongside a victim, providing safety, clothing, food, getting medical care and securing housing. The day-in, day-out walking with survivors and helping them get their lives back is the most fruitful work we do.”
Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2022, Unbound Now has offices in Cambodia, Indonesia, Mongolia and South Africa along with Texas offices in North Texas, Waco, Austin, Houston and Bryan-College Station.
“It’s been amazing to see God bring highly skilled, passionate people to join our efforts,” Peters says. “We have a lot of Baylor graduates on our teams, and there is a lot of support within the Baylor community that has helped us be where we are.”
Unbound Now has served hundreds of survivors who range in age from 6 to 60.
“Human trafficking can happen anywhere,” Peters says. “One study of trafficked youth found half were exploited before age 14, and 75 percent were trafficked for two or more years before being identified as victims. It’s about having our eyes open because it happens more than we realize.”
In 2020, Peters authored Unbound: Working Together to Restore Lives and End Human Trafficking [Clear Day Publishing], in which she recounts stories of the honest, haunting realities of the fight against human trafficking. She hopes these stories will inspire more people to action in this important fight.
2022 Alumni Award Recipients