In 1978, ten year old Missy Sokolsky was abducted from New York by her mother, who used a stolen, forged baptism certificate to begin life under a new identity. As law enforcement and a slew of private detectives hired by Missy’s family scoured the country in search of Lee and Missy Sokolsky, the fugitive mother and daughter became Sharon and Melissa Hart, emerging from thin air on the opposite side of the country.
In 2001 she was a Fulbright Scholar going by her married name, Melissa Haviv, when she discovered that what had happened to her as a child was a crime called “family abduction” and was happening to tens of thousands of children every year. She also discovered that although excellent services were provided to families searching for missing-children, no services were available to help abducted children once located – and, this was true not just for victims of family abduction but for all kinds of child abduction. Cases were considered closed just as the primary victims became available to receive help. Knowing firsthand that the trauma of abduction does not disappear the day a missing child is found, Melissa began a crusade to expand America’s missing child response “beyond recovering missing children to helping missing children recover.”
Today, Melissa is considered a leading expert on the victimology of long-term child abduction. She is the visionary pioneer behind Take Root, a landmark missing-child nonprofit that adds data collected from primary victims to the public and policy discourse on child-abduction, using understanding of the child victims’ experiences and needs to close gaps in missing child services and knowledge. The agency provides aftercare support to abduction victims and channels the emergent program data and insights into watershed best-practices, advocacy initiatives, public education, and training for multidisciplinary response professionals. Melissa provides training and consultation on the impact of abduction and how to help victims for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the United States Department of Justice, among many others, and presents workshops and keynotes at conferences across the country. Her work and research through Take Root has informed numerous key response agencies including the US Department of State Office of Children’s Issues, and missing child nonprofits and law enforcement agencies around the globe. Her written work on child abduction has appeared in professional journals, magazines, and federal government publications. She has helped author legislation and become a public issue spokesperson in the national media. Colleagues in the missing-child service field have called her contributions to the field “revolutionary,” “game changing,” and “essential.”
…that’s the “professional” me. The personal me lives on two acres just north of Portland, OR with my amazing musician husband and miraculous son. We are passionately invested in the real food revolution.