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How can I work with victims of sex trafficking?

I know I want to work with victims of sex trafficking but I am not sure in what capacity. I am on my way to obtaining a master's degree in psychology. I just know I want to shed a light on how widespread sex trafficking is.

#sextrafficking #psychology #clinical-psychology

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Susan Delphine’s Answer

I spent six years working with homeless, mentally ill persons in downtown Dallas, two days a week.

Virtually every homeless woman has a "protector" and many of them traffic their women.

I walked out of Homeless Services one day and a homeless man offered to be my protector! (I was wearing a suit!)

I have volunteered with the Prostitute Diversion Initiative in Dallas, a right-minded police-driven initiative that sees prostitutes as victims. And offers a way out.

I am currently the psychiatrist for a Safe House for trafficked women.

Each one is different. Some have had beer in their baby bottles. Some have been trafficked since toddlerhood. Some have been forced to get drunk at age 6 so that a family member could rape them. Most are victims of sexual abuse at multiple ages. There is no one size fits all.

I like the suggestions given by other responders. You can help, wherever you are in your educational process or career. Maybe you will give talks at community organizations. Maybe you will work with at risk youth. Maybe your career path will take you into direct service. You could easily "burn out" and might have to take a break from the work after a time. Bring your heart to work. Show your compassion. You have no idea how meaningful an encounter with a kind, enlightened listener will be to these survivors, female and male. Straight and gay. Transgendered. Good luck.

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Dana’s Answer

Great question. I commend you for wanting to enter this field. It's so important!

There are quite a few agencies in Georgia that you could start with:

1. Covenant House - http://www.covenanthousega.org/HumanTrafficking-282

2. Street Grace - https://www.streetgrace.org/

3. Out of Darkness - https://outofdarkness.org/

4. Wellspring Living - https://wellspringliving.org/

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Joelisse’s Answer

Hi Wynter!

This is such a diverse topic area. I gained interest with sexual assault and sex trafficking after graduating high school. I took summer courses at the Rape Crisis Center in my city of San Antonio, Texas. They had an intern program where interns could be on call to support survivors at hospitals or an intern could also be on the hotline answering calls.

I also received my Masters in Social Work from Columbia, another route could be receiving a Masters in Social Work and looking to help with legislature surrounding this area, providing therapeutic services to survivors through counseling and much more!

Joelisse recommends the following next steps:

Look into Social Work programs in your area or areas of interest.
Look into local sexual assault/rape crisis centers for additional information.
Talk to lawyers who specialize in supporting survivors.

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Susan’s Answer

If you are seeking an internship with 1:1 direct contact working with survivors of the sex trafficking trade, I suggest contacting the court system and the district attorneys office. You may be able to get an internship working and shadowing a counselor who works in the victim/ witness program through the criminal courts. Or you may be able to get information on local organizations that work with victims through a victim referral hotline https://humantraffickinghotline.org/

Good Luck

I appreciate this idea. It's something that I've never thought of before. Karlyn Farris

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Psicóloga Juliana’s Answer

<span style="color: rgb(33, 33, 33);">I have been a clinical psychologist for 17 years in Brazil, and I have experience in attending sexual victims.</span>

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Urvashi’s Answer

I have always wanted to work with human trafficking victims . I want to contribute to their reintegration on the society and their psychological wel being.

Aiding survivors in their efforts to continually heal themselves is a worthy goal. Karlyn Farris

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Karlyn’s Answer

I can assist survivors in working through their trauma with psychotherapy

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Adam’s Answer

The truth is that there is nothing I could do to help them. The only thing I could do is lend my ear and care for them. Letting them know that I'm here to always talk to.

A caring heart is saver of life Mamii briggite Jemedari

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Elizabeth’s Answer

I would encourage you to research non-profits and local news stories. Speak with service providers regarding their mission and specifically their programs. You may want to try an internship or volunteer to with one of the programs. I'd assume you are working with your faculty regarding what draws you to this population and be on the lookout for any red flags for yourself that may pose boundary issues if you were to become employed in this field with this particular demographic.

Elizabeth recommends the following next steps:

Research local non-profits who work with sex-trafficing
Read articles attempting to bring awareness to this tragic topic
Reflect on your need/desire to work with this group

I need to to put some thought into the notion of working with trafickkiked survivors and how I might deal with vicarious trauma Karlyn Farris

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Mamii briggite’s Answer

I find this hard for someone who was a victim of sex trafficking especially the young ones but its we who can stand for them and make them feel their in a better place and make them feel that they have full life that they can move onto and it wasn't their wish but it can be their wish if they let themselves be torment but what has happen in past

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Judy’s Answer

Hi! You have picked a good topic and it is a very challenging issue in today’s society.

My first exposure to the sex trafficking business was in 1993!

I had no idea what it was about until then- and it’s something that the more you know, the more concerning it becomes.

I was working at a group home for teenage girls and these men in their twenties befriended two of the girls. He told them that he could pick them up if they ran away and would give them a great place to live. He picked them up all right and they ended up as sex slaves in Georgia. They were missing for about 3 months until they were arrested for prostitution-which was their saving grace. The men that picked them up would beat them if they tried to make a phone call or talk to other people.

So sex trafficking isn’t new. It has been happening longer than we may know. But now, it is more sophisticated. Technology allows the practice to be global and makes it easier for the traffickers to monitor their victims.

They prey on adolescents who are vulnerable due to their home life. They also prey on immigrants who are fearful about being deported or have no support here in the US.

I now run into sex trafficking victims at the emergency room I work in. Sometimes they come in and tell us what is going on and beg for help. Sometimes they are acting suspicious or they are with a man that is acting suspicious. We try to get them alone to ask if they are in danger and occasionally they will open up and be honest. If they acknowledge that they are a victim, we contact a domestic violence shelter and the police to get them to safety.

So as far as your question of how to work with these victims, I would recommend volunteering at a domestic violence shelter. Even working on a domestic violence shelter hotline will expose you to how these situations unfold. There is also an national association of professionals working with sex trafficking victims. I know we have a chapter in the Chicago area. You can also look in psychology today and the good therapy websites for therapists that specialize in working with sex trafficking victims and ask them for further information.

This is a growing field of treatment. It is great that you are interested.

Judy recommends the following next steps:

Contact your local domestic violence shelters for volunteer information
Check with professionals on psychologytoday.com -those that list sex trafficking as a treatment issue expertise. You can email these providers for advice
Become involved with at risk youth. Volunteer as a mentor

I appreciate these prompts to action. Karlyn Farris

We need more people like you Mamii briggite Jemedari