Laura Leigh Majernick fell in love with football while helping at Lake Highlands High School Wildcat football games. A 1991 LHHS graduate, she received her bachelors from the University of Texas and began blogging and podcasting about college football. Once she learned about the sexual assaults at Baylor University, she published a book, “Interference.” After finding out about the link between sex trafficking and sports as a blogger for NFL Female, she began volunteering with Rescue Her, a nonprofit that fights human trafficking. Majernick lives in Old Lake Highlands with husband, Jay, who is a percussion instructor at Bishop Lynch High School, and sons John, 12, and Noah, 9.
Could you explain the work you do with Rescue Her?
I am a volunteer. I’m a mentor so I’ve had a trafficking survivor as a mentee for almost a year. We would meet on Mondays for a support group meeting called “Empowerment Night.” It’s a chance to learn some coping and social skills and talk to people who are trying to get out of trafficking. It’s a time to share concerns. I also check in during the week. Right now, we’re meeting on Zoom.
How did your love for sports lead you to advocacy?
I am a lifelong Dallas girl, so I followed football ever since I could remember. When I was talking about the Super Bowl on NFL Female, I noticed the statistic for trafficking during Super Bowl weekend. I started learning more and I realized it’s happening all the time in every city. I don’t do sports anymore, but it led me to the trafficking cause so I’m grateful. I joke that football changed my life even though I’ve never played it. It was God’s way of getting me in touch with my passion project.
Why is there so much trafficking during Super Bowl weekend?
You have so many people coming to the host city to spend money. In a city like Dallas, there’s already a big strip club industry. It’s a lucrative weekend and there’s a lot of alcohol involved. People also go online to find workers for the weekend.
When you worked on NFL Female, were there not as many women in the sports field?
This was probably about 2014, and it was fun to have a women-only fan site to write for. At that time, it was tough to get credentials and establish yourself. I was a stay-at-home mom. This was my hobby, something to do while the kids were asleep. When I started podcasting, I met a producer on Twitter and he was looking for female football fans to cover college. I would do it on Saturday nights after most of the games had been played. That was where I learned about what happened at Baylor.
“I joke that football changed my life even though I’ve never played it.”
Is the book “Interference” about the assaults that happened at Baylor?
Yes. I write about it primarily in the context of a Christian school versus a secular school. I was disappointed that the faith base at the school didn’t help the victims more. It was emotional. There were times I would just have to take a break. I also got to know some of the survivors. I have pride in them for rebuilding their lives despite their trauma.
How much trafficking and sexual violence is in Dallas?
We’re a hub for it. One of my first outreaches involved going on Harry Hines and talking to women and praying for them if they wanted to be prayed for. We gave them perfume or make-up samples with the phone number for the trafficking hotline. Too often we think of sex trafficking as something that happens in Asia or Europe. It happens here too. It’s just more subtle.
What do you want people to know about volunteering to help women who have been trafficked?
It’s an intense commitment, but there are other ways you can be involved such as learning the facts and being a speaker or sharing statistics on social media. For parents, watch your child’s online intake because that’s a place where it can slither into your life. People pose to be kids.
How has this experience changed you?
It’s amazing how much my faith has grown, but it’s also a burden. You wish you could do more. Addiction is almost always involved. In some cases, there’s abuse from the past. Staying sober was probably my mentee’s biggest goal and that’s hard. She was 19 and had started doing drugs at 13, when she started being trafficked. I grew up in Lake Highlands when it was almost like a fairy tale. It’s hard for us to comprehend how damaged people can be right here in our city.
For more information, go to rescueher.org.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.