Human Trafficking Awareness Month
Human trafficking is a widespread and serious issue that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. It is estimated that there are tens of thousands of human trafficking victims in the United States alone, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made the problem worse.
The trauma a survivor experiences from trafficking can have serious physical, mental, and emotional consequences, and it is crucial that survivors have access to the care they need to heal and rebuild their lives.
That is why Hunter Health partners with ICT SOS – a non-profit organization that helps survivors of trafficking through a range of services – to raise awareness about this issue and provide expanded support.
ICT SOS: A Key Resource for Survivors
ICT SOS is dedicated to supporting survivors of trafficking with three key pillars of service.
1. Adult Advocacy
“With adult advocacy, we have an LMSW social worker who serves as an advocate for adults who have experienced trafficking or who are at risk of exploitation,” says Jen White, the director of ICT SOS.
Through this service, ICT SOS provides case management and resource coordination for survivors.
“This can include helping them navigate different resources and systems, coordinating with other advocates, and providing support as they work towards recovery,” White explains.
ICT SOS’s approach is designed to be flexible and tailored to the needs of each individual survivor, recognizing that every person’s experience is unique. “We’re not trying to take over anybody else’s job,” White says. “We’re just one more kind of support to come alongside.”
2. Prevention and education
In addition to their advocacy services, ICT SOS also provides prevention and education programs in schools, largely for 7th and 9th graders.
In 7th grade, education focuses on teaching students about social media safety and healthy and unhealthy relationships. “We help students understand and recognize what exploitation is and how it might show up in relationships and friendships,” White says.
In high school, the program dives deeper into the issue of trafficking, teaching students about the signs of trafficking, the resources available to support survivors, and how to be there for a friend who may be going through a tough situation.
By educating and empowering young people, ICT SOS hopes to create a generation of advocates who are equipped to identify and respond to the issue of human trafficking.
“We really want to make sure that kids know what the resources are and how to access them,” White says. “And we really try to build that empathy and compassion piece because you never know what someone else is going through.”
3. Fresh Start Bags
The third pillar for ICT SOS is their Fresh Start bags. These bags, which are filled with essential items like clothing and toiletries, can make a big difference for survivors who may not have access to these resources or the means to purchase them.
“We do a lot of filling in the gaps of resources for different things across the community,” White says. “One of the things that came up pretty early through an officer that we were working with was the need for Fresh Start bags, and we know these play an important role in helping survivors get back on their feet.”
Working together to support survivors and end human trafficking
Hunter Health is committed to supporting survivors of trafficking and helping them on their journey toward healing and recovery. Through our partnership, we’re able to provide integrated care services to their clients, including mental health counseling, medical care, and substance abuse treatment. This approach helps make it easier for survivors to access the support they need and facilitates their recovery.
“So often, survivors of trafficking are dealing with a wide range of issues,” White says. “And being able to provide them with access to all of those services through one organization makes it a lot easier for them to get the support they need.”
“We believe that by providing access to a comprehensive range of services, we can better support survivors in their recovery and help them on their journey toward healing,” says Tara Nolen, Community Health Manager at Hunter Health. “We are happy to partner with ICT SOS and support their efforts in combatting human trafficking and support survivors.”
Join us in supporting ICT SOS’s mission and consider giving here. By raising awareness and providing support to survivors, we can work towards ending this injustice and helping those who have been affected to heal and rebuild their lives.