“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!”
Each number represents a person. Each person represents a story.
Unfortunately, the crime of human trafficking is severely lacking in data, which has had consequential impact on social understanding, funding, policy and legislation. Traceable, trackable data is needed. Data is the basis of research, and research has the power to create social and political change.
Florida Law defines human trafficking as a form of modern-day slavery. Victims of human trafficking are young children, teenagers, and adults. Thousands of victims are trafficked annually across international borders worldwide. Many of these victims are trafficked into this state. Victims of human trafficking also include citizens of the United States and those persons trafficked domestically within the borders of the United States. Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation and/or forced labor.
State Attorney Amira Fox and the State Attorney's Office have spearheaded a groundbreaking endeavor in which to combat human trafficking. The Human Trafficking data project is called HT Counts, which is now being advocated by Christy’s Cause. Amanda Krause with the State Attorney’s Office helped develop the database and currently runs the project with Special Victims Unit Chief, Assistant State Attorney Francine Donnorummo.
HT Counts collects non-identifying data on victims of human trafficking and exploitation from both law enforcement agencies and service providers. HT Counts aims to identify local trends in human trafficking, provide useful data to agency partners in evaluating and designing service programs and deliver meaningful statistics to assist in grant requests. Data is contributed by partner agencies and providers from the community.
Human trafficking can only be diminished through collaboration between all agencies – Law Enforcement, professionals, medical and service providing agencies. Each traumatized victim needs a specific approach and specialized services. State attorney Amira Fox believes we should utilize as many tools as possible to effectively address human trafficking and exploitation and assist our community in directing resources to those most in need.
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 various professional training tracks at the Symposium:
Law Enforcement and Prosecution
Health Care Professionals
In the Trenches: Mental Health Professionals, Educators, NGO’s
Community Leaders and Hospitality Industry
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.