“We’ve learned from (Human Trafficking) survivors that approximately 87% of them were seen by health care providers while they were under the control of their traffickers, and 63% had been to the emergency department. These statistics show that, with training and supporting intervention programs, hospitals and their staff have a unique opportunity to identify victims and give them not only the care they need, but also the resources to break away from their captors."
- Sherri Mason, MSN, FNP-C
Over two years, Christy’s Cause worked in partnership with Lee Health, Florida Gulf Coast University professors and students, and the Office of the State Attorney to update existing human trafficking policies. The new policies were adopted in the fall of 2017 and Lee Health has already shown increases in victim identification. The team researched best practices in the field and interviewed agencies to better understand the services available. After investing 125 hours of work, two clear policies were created to help Lee Health staff identify and treat potential victims: 1) Minor and vulnerable adult and 2) Adult. Algorithms were created that match written policies to give staff a clear, concise picture of the written policies. The update was initiated by Lee Health Emergency Room nurses, whose goal was to prepare staff to better identify and treat victims of human trafficking and help them get the resources they need to break away from their captors.
Coincidently, the team developed a training piece for health professionals to identify, assess, and respond to human trafficking in the healthcare setting called WeCare. We successfully launched the training at the Human Trafficking Symposium at FGCU and have presented at numerous locations to hundreds of nurses. We continue to receive requests for the WeCare training from hospital departments, clinics, and universities. Here is just some of the feedback we have heard from health professionals:
“WeCare provides valuable assessment tools that I can incorporate in my triage process and improved ways to communicate with victims. “
“Very eye-opening content. I was not aware of the extent of this issue in our area.”
“WeCare gives me more knowledge to help patients that may be in a dangerous situation.”
“Great info and wonderful resources. Inspiring and motivating to make a greater difference within our community, profession, and health care system, thank you!”
“Maybe stories are just data with a soul.” - Brené Brown
Developed by The Southwest Florida Women’s Foundation in cooperation with the Southwest Florida Human Trafficking Task Force, the mission of the Human Trafficking Data Project is to develop and maintain a database to collect information about human trafficking and to provide insight into the patterns and trends of human trafficking in our five county area (Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee). Christy’s Cause has accepted the opportunity to champion the HTDP alongside the State Attorney’s Office.
The lack of accurate data and privacy issues are major obstacles for law enforcement, victim services and legal professionals in quantifying the problem and securing adequate resources to combat human trafficking.
The database will include information about gender, age range, type of trafficking and risk factors. This information will be centralized, analyzed and reported by the State Attorney’s Office. The resulting data will deepen understanding of human trafficking and will reflect trends over time and validate the specific resources needed to bolster the professional efforts of local and statewide agencies. Task Force members will be able to share non-identifying information on the victims served by their respective agencies without violating privacy laws or risking the safety of their clients. The project is currently in pilot phase.
“Our goal is to continue to implement the data program throughout the 20th Judicial Circuit (Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee Counties) and to eventually make it available to the other 19 Judicial Circuits throughout Florida,” said State Attorney Amira Fox. Christy’s Cause will work alongside the State Attorney’s Office to build relationships with the more than fifty agencies and organizations to encourage their participation in sharing data with the State Attorney’s Office.
“We are grateful to Brenda Tate and The Southwest Florida Women’s Foundation for pioneering the development of this essential and innovative tool,” said Christy Ivie, founder of Christy’s Cause. “The data will provide a strong foundation to be able to improve laws to better protect the innocent victims of human trafficking and punish the criminals who prey upon them.”
To have the opportunity to speak one’s truth in a safe and supportive environment is one of the most healing experiences a survivor can have. When that safe and supportive environment also becomes a platform for survivors to creatively communicate with others trapped in sexual exploitation; that becomes a powerful experience!
Con·querors formed quite organically in the most beautiful of ways. Out of sharing a common bond of survival, friends assembled to be a support system for one another. In time, our group evolved into a creative think tank where we began to utilize our own experiences to communicate a message through the arts.
It’s beautiful to see photography, videography, drawing, poetry, and creative writing utilized on platforms such as social and print media with a clear message of freedom. With campaigns such as YOU HAVE A VOICE, our desire is to let those still trapped in sexual exploitation know we care and are fighting on their behalf. Our hopes are that through our efforts those still trapped will find the courage to reach out for help.
We host hundreds of professionals at the annual Human Trafficking Symposium, providing an opportunity for prosecutors, law enforcement officers, government professionals, health care providers, educators, mental health professionals, nonprofits, and leaders in our community a platform to connect with one another and learn innovative strategies that address the crime of human trafficking.
Our goal is focused on giving attendees new tools to identify and treat victims of Human Trafficking. We have all heard people share their views of what the “stereotypical” Human Trafficking victim looks like, but we take a deeper look beyond those preconceived ideas and provided an excellent line up of speakers within professional tracks. Our goal is to reignite a passion for the unidentified 99% of victims in our community and shared tools to help first responders better serve victims in our community.
We offer three professional training tracks at the Symposium:
Law Enforcement and Prosecution
Health Care Professionals
In the Trenches: Mental Health Professionals, Educators, NGO’s
Knowledge is power, and an informed community that knows what to look for and how to report plays an important role in putting an end to the horrific crime of child sex trafficking. We are passionate about creating awareness campaigns that utilize print media, social media, and video to highlight red flags and direct the community to report suspicious activity to the National Human Trafficking Hotline and the Department of Children and Family Services.
As a result of these types of campaigns in our community, we are seeing an increase in incoming calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The Department of Children and Family Services recently hired a case manager assigned specifically to Human Trafficking cases. We have known that the crime of child sex trafficking is extremely underreported. It is a good sign to see our community actively paying attention to red flags and properly reporting suspicions which have required additional staff to handle these cases.
Report or Get Help:
NATIONAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING HOTLINE
FLORIDA ABUSE HOTLINE
of Working with
We are excited to be working with one of the professors at FGCU who is collecting and analyzing interview data in order to describe the interactions and experiences of other anti-trafficking organization staff, service providers, law enforcement, legal representatives, health care providers, and others who interact with victims of human trafficking through work or volunteer service.
We are looking forward to seeing the information this study will reveal and believe it will help us see potential gaps regarding support programs first responders need in order to experience sustainability in their field. We believe this data, once presented to other NGO’s, will help us initiate programs that will offer needed support to those on the front lines fighting this horrific crime.
of the Middle
We are proud members of the Human Trafficking Task Force with the State Attorney’s Office. The Human Trafficking Task Force of the Middle District of the State of Florida is a collaboration of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies working together with organizations providing comprehensive services to trafficking victims to
Identify and rescue victims of human trafficking.
To proactively investigate, identify, apprehend and prosecute those engaged in human trafficking. The group meets on a quarterly basis and has been a great opportunity to collaborate with like-minded leaders around a common goal to eradicate the crime of Human Trafficking.
We believe collaboration with other like minded NGOs, agencies, and organizations allows us to join together and make even bigger strides in bettering our community and achieving a common goal of eradicating human trafficking. No one agency or organization will ever be able to tackle this horrific crime alone. Collaboration helps us better understand and promote important services other organizations provide, brings creative solutions that would have otherwise been overlooked, and strengthens our advocacy efforts.
We mentor survivors of human trafficking as well as young women in our community who have not experienced sexual violence but are extremely passionate supporters of our mission. We love extending opportunities to these young women to utilize their talents and passions within the context of our vision. The arts have been very important to our organization and will continue to be; they are our voice! These young women are incredibly talented and bring a perspective to our organization that is critical for us to communicate our message to vulnerable teens. We know we are making a difference in the lives of these young women, and we are honored to have the opportunity to work alongside them as we accomplish our mission.