From Anecdote to Reality: A series of webinars about working with survivors of human trafficking
Thursday, January 3rd, 2019
By: Martha Hernandez-Martinez, Program Research Manager, Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and in commemoration Casa de Esperanza will offer a series of webinars on human trafficking throughout the month. The series will commence on January 10 with a presentation to share the results of the study A Scan of the Field: Learning about Serving Survivors of Human Trafficking. The research center of Casa de Esperanza’s National Latin@ Network conducted the study to gain a better understanding of how domestic/sexual violence organizations across the country were providing services to survivors of trafficking.
The second webinar in the series will be offered on January 21, presented by Dr. Laurie Cook Heffron from St. Edward’s University in Texas, titled Precarity & Resistance Among Immigrant Survivors of Human Trafficking. The series will conclude on January 31 with a webinar presented by Polaris, a national human trafficking organization and leader in the global fight to eradicate human trafficking. Polaris will share the latest report, Human Trafficking Field Developments and Intersections with Domestic Violence.
Brief Background of the NLN’s Study
For many years at Casa de Esperanza, we have heard stories from colleagues and service providers in the field of domestic and sexual violence about the experiences and challenges faced when responding to the needs of human trafficking survivors seeking services from their shelters or offices.
To learn more about how domestic and sexual violence organizations were responding to the needs of human trafficking survivors, our research team carried out a study that would allow us to gather facts and data around organizations experiences and challenges. We hoped that this study would be useful to organizations both by shedding light on the abilities and challenges of providing services to survivors and by corroborating what until then had only been anecdotes from the field.
The study, carried out in 2016, provided findings that allowed us to lift up the anecdotes from the field and confirm through research what organizations were seeing on the ground when providing services to human trafficking survivors at shelters that were originally created to meet the needs of survivors of domestic and/or sexual violence and their families. We were able to identify the most urgent needs of survivors of human trafficking when seeking help. Among those needs, housing emerged as the highest priority, followed by legal aid and assistance with obtaining mental health counseling services.
We also learned that many of the organizations providing these services had to make changes to their staffing, organizational structure, and scope of work, to be able to satisfy the unique needs of survivors of human trafficking.
We appreciate the collaboration, guidance and support provided by the organizations that participated in the study, from which we learned many lessons on working with survivors, had the opportunity to learn about the complexity of the issue, and learned that collaboration among organizations is required both inside and outside the field in order to effectively respond to survivors’ needs.
For this reason, we intend this webinar series to become not only an opportunity to share findings but also to invite other researchers and organizations from the field to share their experiences and work around this topic. We hope to also serve as a bridge to other resources and services for organizations that seek to expand their support to survivors of human trafficking. We hope you will join us in sharing your experiences and questions around this topic.
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