By Sara Forcella, See the Triumph Contributor
Being an advocate can hold so many different meanings to different individuals. It can be easy to get caught up in trying to have one definition of what it means to be an intimate partner violence advocate , but the truth of the matter is that there is no one definition of an IPV advocate. One advocate's work may look completely different than another but, this does not mean that one is correct and one is incorrect. Or even that one’s work is good and the other’s isn’t . The most important piece of advocacy work, is that you are doing something; that you are speaking up, supporting a cause, or donating your time to help others. As we’ve discussed previously at See The Triumph, IPV affects everybody; therefore, anybody can become an advocate.
Here are a few tips that can help you better become an effective advocate.
Hone in on your area of passion: One of the most important things about being an advocate is being passionate about your cause. You have to truly believe in what you are working towards! Before you decide to become an advocate ask yourself what am I passionate about-- do I want to work with victims of partner abuse? Do I want to work towards changing policies regarding IPV in the work place? Remember,donating a ton of money to help support a cause is not always as effective as using your passion and voice to rally behind a cause and create change. Also, being passionate about a cause does not always mean that it has to have affected you directly. In this case, you don’t have to have been in an abusive relationship to be a great advocate; you just need to have compassion, do some research and attempt to understand what IPV is and how it affects others. Survivors and service providers of IPV need these kinds of allies! The more folks that rally around a cause, the more likely that their voices will be heard.
Educate yourself about the cause: While having passion is key to being a successful advocate, it’s also important to be educated about your cause. For instance, it’s critical for IPV advocates to understand what IPV is, it’s dynamics, and how it affects both victims and other members of our communities. Education does not have to be formal, it can be simply doing research of your own. You can also get a better understanding of the ‘Power and Control Wheel’ or develop an understanding of where local shelters are located and how folks can access them. Reach out to the resources offered in your community. Many times women’s shelters offer different kinds of trainings for those wanting to learn more about IPV advocacy.There are also webinars that offer trainings from the comfort of your own home (many of these are free). One of the best ways to learn about IPV is to listen to those who have been affected by it. Some organizations offer spaces where community members and victims can share their stories .Remember, while education does not have to be formal, you do need to understand what and who you’re advocating for!
Volunteer your time: Local shelters and domestic violence organizations are almost always looking for unpaid help. Typically there are many different roles that advocates can take in these types of positions--sometimes you may find yourself working directly with victims in positions such as working at a safe home or working the crisis hotline, other times you may simply be helping out with things that need to be done around the shelter or organization. Don’t worry, you won’t be thrown into any kinds of these positions, it’s normal for most organizations to provide training for all of their volunteers. If working at a shelter is not something that sounds applicable to your lifestyle then look into other ways you can help. Donate food to local shelters, start a clothing drive or contact your local shelter and ask what they are most in need of. Any time that you give out of your busy schedule is better than nothing.
Band together with other advocates: One voice can certainly make change occur , but imagine the amount of change that a hundred voices could ignite. The really great thing about advocacy is that you are never alone. Research what other groups in your community are doing, and see if you can join their work. Most groups are always looking for more folks to join their cause.
Speak Up and Out: Sharing your knowledge with others is a critical aspect of advocacy work. You’ve taken the time to do research, you’ve spoken with others, now it’s time to get that information out to the public and make change happen. Create an advocacy blog, put a purple ribbon bumper sticker on your car , write a letter to your local congressperson regarding issues you have with our local DV laws or policies ,or attend a rally. Just get the word out! If somebody says something that you don’t agree with about IPV, tell them what they are saying is false and that it is perpetuating the stigma. As an advocate it is our duty to stop the myths and end the stigma related to IPV. Share your message with your family; educate others about the cause--maybe they will even decide to take action too! As mentioned before, it’s important to know the basic facts and how you will answer questions if they are asked. Don’t be afraid to tell somebody the truth if you don’t know the answer to a question--it’s better to say that then to provide the wrong information.
Be Patient: In this day and age, we tend to expect immediate gratification; if we put in the hard work we want to see it pay off right away. However,many times this is not the way that advocacy work works. It takes a lot of work in order to change the way that a society views someting. And it takes even longer to change the myths and stigmas .Remember, just because you don’t see a change right away, it doesn't mean that it isn’t happening. Don’t give up and don’t get discouraged!
By Allison Crowe, See the Triumph co-founder
When Christine and I started the See the Triumph project, we knew we wanted to share the stories we’d heard from survivors in our research. We had interviewed a small number of women and were touched by the poignant experiences, messages to other survivors, horror stories of abuse, and ways the women we met had managed to overcome abusive relationships. This was about three years ago, but I remember our phone call after we’d completed the interviews– both of us seemed to know we wanted to do something more than the traditional, scholarly writing about the research, but how exactly this would look we really didn’t know!
One of our first ideas was to create a website to reach a broader audience. We had quotes from the interviews that might work well displayed with pictures and images. Now, we had to make sure that both of our institutional review boards (IRBs) would approve of sharing our research in this way. As the project grew, so did out knowledge of social media, and tools that are available for sharing information and reaching a broader audience. Honestly, when we started, Christine and I did not know much about social media tools, blogging, pledges and petitions, and how to be advocates of a project like this.
Each See the Triumph milestone has been a learning experience, but along the way, one of my biggest take-away’s has been proudly adding the identity of advocate to my role as a university professor. And I have to say, it has been one of the most rewarding identities to claim. I remember learning about the role of advocacy during my master’s program in counseling and feeling intimated about how to advocate, what this would look like in practice, and finding time for this in addition to the other responsibilities of a professional counselor. Today, I want to share some of my own small lessons learned about advocacy through the See the Triumph project. My hope is that by reading some of these, you might think about them as they apply to your own passions and identities as advocates:
1. Own your strengths. When we started this project, Christine and I knew how to do research and write for publication. We used these strengths to develop material that later we edited and transformed so that it could be used in a different way on social media. We did not lose sight of what we already knew how to do, and used these skills as a starting point. So, for those of you thinking of beginning a project, campaign, or advocacy endeavor, consider what you naturally do well, and start there!
2. Acknowledge your weaknesses. Early on, Christine and I had the great pleasure of meeting with Andrew Willis, Executive Director and Founder of the Stop Abuse Campaign. Boy, did he help us learn the ropes for building a website, starting a Facebook page, and a growing a Causes following. He was patient, honest, and helped us understand the differences between academic writing and writing as an advocate for change.
3. Collaborate. An early lesson Christine and I learned is that we couldn’t do this alone. We needed guest bloggers, students, and volunteers to help us with anything and everything on the project. For anyone wanting to advocate for an issue, give voice for those who need strength, or fight for social justice issues, there really is strength in numbers! Find others out there who are doing similar work and see if they might be willing to work with you in small or large ways.
4. Find people you work well with. I have found that my most successful projects have been those where my style of working matched those working styles of the people I was collaborating with. Now, this is not to say that different ways of working can be productive on an advocacy project, but for me, a valuable take-away from the See the Triumph project has been that as co-founders, Christine and I work well together and have similar approaches. When you begin a large advocacy endeavor, chances are you’ll be spending a decent amount of time on it, so for me this has been a very important aspect of the project and a large part of our success.
5. Have fun! Chances are, if you are advocating for a topic, population, or issue that needs advocating for, it is a serious and perhaps upsetting/unfair topic that can feel draining for all those involved. Serious issues that feel like uphill battles can lead to burn out, exhaustion, or feelings of defeat. At See the Triumph we have found ways to promote stories of triumph, uplifting messages, and manage to have some fun along the way, even if it’s just for our own sanity. So, as much as being an advocate demands seriousness and commitment to the issue, it also requires that you take time off, detach for a while, and return feeling refreshed and renewed.
These are five simple reflections from my own journey with See the Triumph. My hope is that they might help those of you along the way in your paths towards advocacy. Thanks for reading, and as always, thanks for supporting our work!
By Sonya Desai, See the Triumph Guest Blogger
Adult Victim Advocate, Victim Services Division, Family Service of the Piedmont
Every morning when I wake up, I give thanks for one more day to help someone through a difficult situation. I understand that I have been given an opportunity to be an advocate for those in a domestic violence situation. On some days this requires me to spend the day with a survivor in order to help her obtain a restraining order, assist in finding a safe place for her and her children to live, or develop an extensive safety plan relevant to her situation. On other days advocacy for a client may not require such a hands on approach. Rather, it may be telling a survivor that I am proud of her for coming forward and asking for help. Advocacy looks different for every situation.
As a professional, I am required to have boundaries and ethics when helping a survivor. In saying this, if you are a friend, co-worker, or family member of a survivor, you also should be aware of what you say and do in your role of advocacy. It is a natural tendency to want to help others, but it is also important to remember that the survivor may not be ready for help. We have to allow the survivor to move at her own pace. Give her the time to think and express her emotions. People have different priorities and plans than what we may have. It is important to understand domestic violence and that the survivor knows her abuser better than anyone else. After all, she has survived to this point. We must have faith that she knows what the best plan is for her and her children. Be supportive in what the survivor wants, not what you think the survivor wants.
Ask questions that give the survivor an opportunity to decide what she needs. Here are few examples of questions that are appropriate to ask.
1. How can I help with keeping you safe?
2. What are specific things that I can do to help make things easier for you?
3. How can I support you through this?
We want to give the survivor her control back when asking questions. For a long time she was being controlled by her abuser, so this is an opportunity for her to be empowered.
When speaking with the survivor make sure that you do not promise things that you cannot fulfill. For example, do not tell the survivor that you will attend every court date with her if you likely will not be able to. Court can be a lengthy process which may require time off from work or rearranging your schedule. A better solution is to assist the survivor in finding the local domestic violence agency where an advocate can accompany the survivor to court. Then if you are able to attend some of the court dates, you will become an extra support to her.
When supporting a survivor, please remember that she may change her mind and go back to her abuser. It is important to not express disapproval, as this may push her away from you. You may be the only one that she trusts to tell her story to. When you criticize her, you are telling her that she is not doing it the way that you would do it.
Obviously, if you are reading this blog, your intentions are good in that you want to help someone in need. There will be times when there are no answers to questions or you may not know what to say. It is all right to not have anything to say. Sometimes the best solution is to be still, and listen to her.
The truth of the matter is that the worst thing you can do for a survivor is nothing. In saying this, helping can be the simplicity of your presence. Knowing that she has you, may be all that she needs.
Sonya Desai began working as the adult victim advocate on a joint grant with Family Service of the Piedmont and the Greensboro Police Department in April of 2007. In this position, she assists victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. This assistance involves safety planning, court accompaniment, supportive counseling during and after interviews with Greensboro Police Department detectives, and linking victims to area resources. Desai also assists in answering phone calls to the local 24/7 crisis line. She is an active member of Guilford County’s Sexual Assault Response Team. Desai’s work is not limited to victims. She is a co-facilitator for the Domestic Violence Intervention Program in High Point. This is a jail alternative program designed for men who are convicted of domestic violence related charges.
By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
A few days ago, I wrote about the unique, and important, role that survivors can play in advocacy work to address intimate partner violence (IPV). As important as this role is, I want to emphasize that it should always be up to each individual survivor to choose whether or not to engage in this sort of work at any given point in time. Survivors need not feel any pressure--either from themselves or from others around them--to take on advocacy work.
We’ve learned from survivors in our ongoing study on overcoming abuse that there are many reasons why people may choose not to take on advocacy work, and any and of these reasons--even simply that they do not want to do it--are valid and worthy of honoring.
We heard from several participants in our research about some of the reasons they did not want to take on advocacy work.
For example, some felt that it wouldn’t be a good match for their skills:
This is one of the reasons that we would love to see all people consider if and how they can help advocate to end the abuse and support survivors--regardless of whether they have any personal experience with IPV or not. With IPV, we’re facing a massive social problem that has been entrenched into cultures for generations and generations. The more voices that join this cause, the more powerful a message they can send together. However, it is important to honor survivors’ choice whether to join their voices with larger advocacy efforts.
By Sara Forcella, See the Triumph Contributor
Whenever I tell people what field of work I am going into the first question that I always receive is why? What made me want to go into domestic violence advocacy? Each and every time I am asked this I feel as if I’m never prepared to answer. I’m never quite ready to let strangers or even employers into that private space where my answer lies. Never truly ready to become that vulnerable. My response is usually simple, something generic, like “I’m interested in women’s issues” or “I’ve seen people I know experience it”. Yet, by giving these generic responses I’m not being honest with myself or others.
I decided that the only way for me to share my story was to express myself the best way I know how—to write about it. So, for the past few months I tried to write my story, to give those in it justice, to share my past to the best of my ability. But every draft never seemed right. For awhile I set the story aside altogether. Thats when to my surprise, I was asked to share my advocacy story with See The Triumph. It seemed like now was a good time as any to actually put my story into writing. To share what lead me on my journey of advocacy with all of you—the folks who I have shared my work, thoughts and stories with and more importantly the folks who have been brave enough to share their stories with me.
The truth of the matter is that I am lucky enough to never have been physically abused myself. I have dealt with verbal and emotional abuse, but never physical. I’ve had my share of bad relationships, some of which reflecting upon were definitely unhealthy. I’ve been in relationships that involved emotional and verbal abuse, ones that were riddled with issues of power and control, some that had they lasted may have turned violent. But this story is not about my relationships, not the intimate ones at least.
What led me into IPV advocacy were much different kinds of relationships—they were friendships. Back when I was in college (not too many years ago) I noticed so many of my girlfriends stuck in bad intimate relationships. Relationships where sex was forced upon them through manipulation or coercion. Relationships where they were berated or put down. Relationships where phones would be checked constantly and there were accusations of cheating. Relationships that were just not healthy. Relationships in which my girlfriends didn’t even realize that they were being abused or sexually assaulted because they thought these behaviors, these beliefs, were ‘normal’. These were all relationships that I was aware of, yet for some reason I never talked about their dysfunction with my friends, I never urged them to press charges after they were sexually assaulted when they were too intoxicated to even give consent. All of us just saw this as the typically college life, the kinds of things that girls have to learn to deal with. What I soon realized was that my silence, my lack of outrage, was allowing these forms of gender based violence to continue.
One of my friend’s relationship in particular was extremely abusive—it was verbally, physically and emotionally abusive—and I knew this. Watching my friend dealing with the reality of intimate partner violence, and somewhat losing her to it, pushed me to begin my journey as an IPV advocate.
My involvement in this relationship was complex; I was friends with both individuals. At that time I cared about them both and wanted to see them both happy. Seeing them both happy meant that they needed (in this case) to go their separate ways. Which also meant I was stuck in the middle, trying my best not to take sides. As an outsider I thought that breaking up would keep the peace, but it didn’t. Still in my very early twenties, the complexity of this situation was not lost on me. I had no clue where to turn or even what to say to either of my friends involved.
The couple still saw each other and the fighting only increased. Eventually my friend began to come over with random bruises attached to nonchalant stories that usually included phrases like, “It was my fault I…. annoyed him, or he saw me text a boy, or I went out last night”. My brain registered that she felt it was her fault ,yet my heart was telling me something different, that she was not to blame and that she did not deserve this.
I saw this person as strong, funny, confident and beautiful; yet, she saw none of this herself. The first tactic that I used to try to ‘help’ was informing her of this—telling my friend that her partner was a jerk and she could do better. Consequently, this seemed to push her further away from me.
At one point I felt so desperate that I took one of the Domestic Violence Hotline Number’s off of a bathroom wall and gave it to her. With no avail I decided to stop trying—that my voice didn’t matter. Knowing that bashing her partner would do little to help her, or our friendship, I decided to go another route. Instead of saying anything negative I just listened; I didn’t ask questions and I tried not to mention her partner's name. Sometimes I swear I had to bite my tongue so hard to keep from saying anything bad that I swore it might fall off. In keeping silent I sort of helped our friendship, yet I didn’t help my friend who still came over with bruises.
For me this silence, this unspoken elephant in the room, became a way of dealing with my friend’s violent relationship. But what I soon learned was that this silence got me in trouble and it hurt others.
One night, as I spent time with a group of friends my silence nearly suffocated me. While there I began to hear yelling, glass hitting the wall and shattering. I could hear my friend crying. I had absolutely no clue what to do. My first instinct was to grab my phone and call the cops—something I was quickly told not to do. The others said that this happens all the time and that if I was to get the police involved both of my friends would get arrested. I wanted to march down there and stop the fight myself but again I was advised against it. So I did nothing. I remained silent and sat upstairs as a terrified bystander. Eventually, somebody broke the ‘fight’ up, however, nothing about this situation settled well with me.
The next day everybody acted as if nothing happened. When I tried to talk to my friend about it she was embarrassed and avoided the larger than life elephant sitting beside us. It was this ten minutes of silence that I decided I had to do something, and this is when I decided looking into IPV advocacy work.
Looking back on that night I realize that I was a bystander, that I allowed my friend to be harmed. I allowed others to sit back and do nothing—and even worse I allowed them to think that this was okay and “normal”. At the time I thought that my silence would protect me, that it might protect my friendship, but what I truly failed at was protecting another human being. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had stepped in. Would I have gotten harmed? I may have. Would my voice have been heard? It may have. I honestly don’t know, but what I do know is that I cannot allow my voice to go unheard again. I cannot allow others to believe that IPV is normal and that it’s acceptable.
In this case of IPV, like many others, everybody knew about the abuse. It wasn’t a secret. Everybody knew that the couple ‘fought’ and things got ‘out of hand’. Everybody saw the bruises, the broken glass. But, nobody did anything; nobody said anything. This is where I have found my place as an advocate—it is these small moments of silence, the unknown of where to go and who to turn to, that I hope to change. Had I known more about IPV back then, I may have been able to change the situation—or not. But it’s important for me to help the millions of other women and men who are out there dealing with the same things. It’s imperative for me to verbalize to others that abuse is never okay, that it is illegal, and that it is way more than a lover’s quarrel turned giant elephant in the room.
By Sara Forcella, See the Triumph Contributor
Sex trafficking is not something that is easily understood, or frequently discussed. Many times victims of sex trafficking, like victims of domestic violence, face being stigmatized by their communities and our society as a whole. As human beings, it is common for us to attempt to categorize people and place them into boxes. By doing so, we are able to quickly understand and label others, to distinguish whether or not we like them, and decide how we interact with them.
The problem with these labels, however, is that they allow for clouded judgment and misunderstanding instead of tolerance, compassion, and understanding. It’s common for us to put victims of sex trafficking in very rigid and unkind boxes--within our society they may be viewed as willing prostitutes or even undocumented citizens attempting to gain citizenship--all of these accusations are false. Most victims of sex trafficking are unwilling workers who are forced to work, abused, and threatened.
Victims of sex trafficking may find their way into this “business” for many different reasons. In some cases children or teens are kidnapped and forced into the industry. Runaways and those living on the streets also face being lured into the sex trafficking industry. Some victims may be tricked or coerced into the industry with promises of wealth or a better life. One thing to remember about the sex trafficking industry is that it relies on members of vulnerable populations to fulfill its needs. Traffickers may target women and children because of their disenfranchised place within society. Immigrants and undocumented citizens may also be targets due to their limited access to resources. Traffickers are tactful and understand that by using lies, manipulation and false hope, they are sometimes able to coerce people into their work.
While it is true that human trafficking can take place in legitimate business settings, victims typically will not seek immediate help. Many times victims of sex trafficking face depression, self-blame, and trust issues. Victims may be scared of what will happen to them if they do turn to others for help. Just because somebody does not turn to you for help does not mean that they do not want help, or need help.
Before you make snap judgments about those working in the sex industry, remember that a majority of victims do not willingly chose to be part of it. It is up to us to end the stigma that is attached to sex trafficking. By breaking down the boxes that we created and the labels we attach, we are taking a small step to change the way that victims of sex trafficking are seen within our society.
By Megan Richardson, See the Triumph Guest Blogger
Human Trafficking has become a much publicized topic within the past few years, and while many people are starting to know more about it, it’s hard to know exactly how to engage in the movement other than by donating to an organization that helps survivors. Gary Haugen of International Justice Mission is quoted as saying “Nothing happens just because we are aware of modern slavery, but nothing will EVER happen until we are.” Knowledge is power, and just like with the dynamics of domestic violence and sexual assault, the more you know the more capable you are to help survivors walking through your doors.
If you work at a domestic violence/sexual assault shelter, you may have worked with a “trafficking” survivor without even knowing it. Trafficking survivors are experiencing sexual assault and domestic violence regularly, so how are they any different? There are many complicating factors to keep in mind when working with survivors of trafficking including the following: identifying survivors, challenges to rehabilitation, understanding complex trauma and utilizing trauma informed care.
Because of the covert nature of human trafficking, it is rare for a victim to self-identify. This is mostly because victims blame themselves, thinking they have consented to doing this type of work. Traffickers target vulnerabilities, and frequently use a victim's history of sexual abuse or neglect by convincing them that they can take back control of their trauma by making money off of sex – an act that has previously caused them so much pain. By targeting vulnerable populations, victims then take ownership of the decisions being made and believe what is happening to them is an empowering choice. Once a victim is initiated into “the Life,” it becomes very difficult to get out. Pimps can earn up to $632,000 per year by selling four young women or children, meaning they have a lot to lose if someone leaves. Therefore, clients also do not self-identify out of fear due to threats of deportation, violence, or attempts at keeping their family safe from retribution.
Survivors also often view their situation as temporary, and have been taught to mistrust law enforcement or other agencies that are in place to keep them safe. Identifying survivors can be complicated, but not impossible. Red flags that might arise in working with a client could consist of any involvement in sex work, underpayment in promised work, confiscation of legal documents, different work than promised, and working to pay off a debt. It can also be important to keep in mind that women can be traffickers too! Within the trafficking culture, there is room to move up in ranks, so it possible a woman who is a trafficker now has been in the business and has her own experience of abuse from an early age.
Because the issue of trafficking has become so sensationalized, many people are quick to take action, but just as quickly surprised at certain challenges to rehabilitation that arise. We like to think that once someone is rescued from their pimp, they will resume a normal lifestyle without complications, and fail to think victims could possibly return to such a violent and life threatening lifestyle, much like in cases involving domestic violence. Many survivors have gone through a “turning out” period with their trafficker involving intermittent violence and mixed message that create trauma bonds similar to the Stockholm Syndrome, where victims experience empathy and sympathy towards their perpetrators. Through this established loyalty, they may have been conditioned to believe that everyone else is against them. Relapse is high and likely due to the psychological control exerted over them, and reflects the traumatic bonds established early on in the relationship. Other challenges typically presented in a clinical setting include problems engaging in a trusting relationship, sexual confusion, resistance, and difficulty adhering to rules and structure.
For survivors of Human Trafficking, a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) just is not enough. Trafficking survivors have often experienced complex trauma including early childhood abuse and then continued interpersonal trauma for prolonged periods of time. The difference between someone in a shelter for domestic violence is that they may be seeking safety from one person in the community, while a survivor of trafficking is likely to have been violated by many. It’s probable that a trafficking survivor has been perpetrated by their pimp, their buyers or “johns,” and/or people appointed by the pimp to help inflict punishment. Even if a pimp is incarcerated, there are often additional networks of people that are likely and capable of causing significant harm to the client, therefore, causing experiences of poly-trauma, from multiple abusers. Having been exposed to such complex trauma, clients can present in a state of either hyperarousal or hypoarousal, and might seek services for a variety of psychological disorders including, but not limited to Substance Abuse Disorders, Attachment Disorder, Somatic Disorders, Dissociative Disorders, Mood Disorders, Personality Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, and more.
When working with survivors, just as with other clients, it is important to be non-judgmental and respectful, recognizing the strengths within them that have helped them to survive. Trauma informed questioning can assist in establishing a safe and trusting relationship. What would it mean to say something like “every couple has problems – what are some things in your relationship you don’t like.” versus “have you ever been abused?” Particularly with trafficking clients, it can help to address emergency and basic needs first, and present opportunities for choice, such as “would you like something to drink?” Be up front about who you are and your goals for speaking with them, while asking for permission for things like taking notes or closing the door. Setting appropriate boundaries for the client will become necessary, while also making sure to take care of yourself, as this can be very difficult work.
There are immigration remedies available for survivors of trafficking and many organizations ready to take action and offer support to service providers. For additional resources and information, I recommend you contact The Polaris Project, your state-level Coalition Against Human Trafficking, World Relief, and/or Shared Hope International.
Megan Richardson currently works as a Crisis Intervention Therapist and Advocate. In this role, she mostly works with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and trafficking, offering individual and family counseling, group treatment, and advocacy services including 50b restraining order and immigration remedy assistance, safety planning, and ongoing support. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) with her Master’s and Educational Specialist Degree in couples and family counseling. After graduating from UNCG, she worked with a non-profit organization in the Philippines assisting survivors of human trafficking, and offering training opportunities to those working closely with survivors.
By Sara Forcella, See the Triumph Contributor
The term “sex trafficking” may resonate differently with us all--for some of us this term is completely unfamiliar and unknown, and for others this term may remind you of a scene in a dramatic movie or book. Whether you are completely unaware of sex trafficking, or you believe that it only happens in some far off land, I urge you to consider that sex trafficking is a very real concern which affects thousands of Americans every year.
These statistics show just how much sex trafficking affects our nation.
Sex trafficking does not only happen in far off nations or non-fiction novels, it may be happening right in your backyard. In fact, victims of sex trafficking have been found in all 50 US states in areas ranging from cities, suburbs and rural areas (Polaris Project). No community in the US is left unaffected. Sex trafficking is not something that is always hidden, in some instances, the industry relies on various legal and legitimate business settings all around the US to traffic their victims. Victims of sex trafficking may be forced to work in brothels, online escort services, fake massage business, strip clubs and as prostitutes (Polaris Project).
Whether you have been directly affected by this or indirectly affected, sex trafficking affects us all in some way or another. Therefore, it’s important for all of us to take a stand and help end its existence. This may seem like a daunting and unreasonable task, but there are small and simple steps that you can take to help victims and possible future victims of sex trafficking.
If you have any information, tips or questions related to sex trafficking, call The National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s toll-free hotline, at 1-888-373-7888