Crime, Law, and Forensic assessments in Dutch court!

Tabitha Russell Start Date: Feb 12, 2017 - End Date: Dec 8, 2017
  • Educational/Research Trip
  • Professional Development
  • Study/Degree Abroad
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands

My Travel Story

by: Tabitha Russell Start Date: Feb 12, 2017 - End Date: Dec 8, 2017
  • Educational/Research Trip
  • Professional Development
  • Study/Degree Abroad
Amsterdam's Red Light District is home to a bronze statue in honor of prostitutes around the world. The first and only such statue of it's kind, "Belle," awaits inside of a doorway, breasts revealed, feet awkwardly positioned as if she is feeling unsteady, undoubtedly looks out into the world frighteningly, yet aware. 

I first learned of artists'  Els Rijerse in 2013 while working with female drugs addicts with a history of prostitution, usually dating back to their adolescents.  I took the time to get to know each of their stories and tried endlessly to advocate for them in the legal setting. All to no avail. Although it did not seem new to them, I was struck by the way these women had nearly been wiped from virtuous society, trapped in the justice system's revolving doors. I made it y mission to get to know every single woman and serve as her voice. I was her voice which finally demanded the attention, understanding, and just the break these women were long overdue.  You see, none of the lifestyles they lived was truly their fault, nor was it their decision. I became infatuated, So obsessed that here I am, four years later, pursuing my Ph.D. in forensic psychology.  I continue to advocate for victims of sex crimes, and I will not stop until I have fulfilled my promise to someone dear to me. Katherine McRee was a beautiful being who battled many demons.  She eventually became the subject of my Master's thesis, which is when we came across Belle and the powerful story she silently tells. I made a promise to Katherine that someday, we were going to travel to Amsterdam to see the statue in person. Katherine died about two months later; it was her 27th birthday.  
Since her passing, I have kept my word. I am now a doctoral student, studying forensic psychology. My plan is to help young women like Katherine receive ALL of the treatment and social services they need until their wounds have healed, and before they become just another menace to our society. My plan is to open at least three all female, 24-hour drop-in centers. A place that will provide them with a bed, warmth, food, running water and someone to confide in.  I will one day be rubbing elbows with the same individuals who, for centuries, turned a blind eye to women like Katherine. Only this time, I will have the authority and the credentials to be heard. 
But until then, I am thrilled to announce that I have been blessed with the opportunity to fulfill the very last wish I made to Katherine. To someday travel to Amsterdam, and see Belle with my very own eyes. A reawakening to motivate me each day to keep the memory, and the honor of my dear friend alive. For I, am a Hope Dealer. 
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands

Adventure Registry

  • scholarships and grants

    $ 2,000
  • Financial Aid/Loans

  • Backbacking necessities

    $ 800
  • Daddy :))

    $ 500
  • Mommy :))