Melissa McGraw, Director of Counseling Services at Safe Passage
What is Human Trafficking?
In June several domestic violence staff attended a training on human trafficking in Springfield. Domestic violence and rape crisis centers are seeing more and more victims of human trafficking entering shelters or seeking counseling services. And, yes, trafficking is occurring in DeKalb County.
Human trafficking may involve either sex trafficking or labor trafficking. It includes recruiting, harboring, or obtaining a person by force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude or the sex trade. There is an intersection between domestic violence and trafficking in that survivors of trafficking may be trafficked by an intimate partner or family member. Contrary to popular belief, victims of trafficking are not always immigrants from other countries. Victims of trafficking may not immediately identify that they are being trafficked. Advocates and counselors are learning to ask specific questions to help identify if their clients are not only victims of domestic violence or sexual assault but also may be victims of trafficking.
Trafficking survivors often present with significant trauma histories and symptoms as a result of their traumas. The counseling staff have worked to help these clients identify and process their feelings of shame and betrayal related to being trafficked by someone they thought they trusted and loved. This may be a long-term process that also involves connection to case management and legal services.
As a result of this training, Safe Passage has staff who are more equipped to identify and meet the unique needs of trafficking survivors.
If you’d like to learn more about trafficking and how to recognize and support survivors OR if you think you may be a victim of trafficking, call us 24/7 at 815-756-5228.
I recently attended the Bridges out of Poverty training and it was a great learning experience. The exciting thing was that many of the tools they gave us, we have already implemented in our Residential Program. It is my goal as the Director of Residential Services to identify the unique barriers our clients may face and create a program that best meets the needs of the clients we work with. Domestic violence impacts all socio-economic groups and this includes individuals who come from generational poverty. In addition to the trauma a person experiences due to abuse, a person who is also living in poverty will face even more challenges.
In the training, we discussed the hidden rules of poverty, the differences between situational and generational poverty, and how vital it is as providers to recognize the reality our clients face. If a client does not have access to reliable transportation, healthcare, childcare, or a livable wage job, it is extremely overwhelming to not only leave an unsafe situation, but also then to be able to put all the pieces together in order to start again. Working with clients who come from generational poverty has given me and the Residential staff insight into the strength it takes to face all of these challenges, yet still rise above them. Building honest and caring relationships with our clients, taking the time to really listen to stories and experiences is the foundation for case-management and advocacy in our program. We know that we cannot see things through our own lens, but through theirs, in order to support our clients fully. The Bridges out of Poverty training teaches so many skills on how to not only understand clients better but how to understand ourselves so that we may be better helpers.
Oppression in all its forms affects each one of us. Classism and poverty frequently overlap domestic and sexual violence. It is important to consider all the forms of oppression that may be affecting our clients and work to ensure we are providing intersectional services and intersectional advocacy. If you’d like more information about our services our how our case management could help you, give us a call at 815.756.5228.