OVC Provider Forum Transcript

Engaging Survivors in Combating Human Trafficking
Jean Bruggeman, Rebecca Bender  -  2015/1/28
https://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ovcproviderforum
 
 
How do you know that a survivor is ready to work with victims?
 
1.  Rebecca Bender
 Adding to my first portion (Cause this only allows 120 characters) is potentially talking with your Survivor Leader about their triggers so they are on the look out for them.
 
2.  Rebecca Bender
 This can be hard and sometimes a very delicate subject. A lot of us want to help and give back and part of our journey can be finding our identity and place in the movement along the way. A few tips I would love for in a survivor to gauge, is if she still glamorizes the life while talking about it. If while working with people, victims or sharing she gets physically and emotionally triggered. Often times reliving the story can be emotional without being trigger some, so watch for the difference.
 
3.  Jean Bruggeman
 Great question Lynn. This is a very personalized consideration. Generally, it is important that a survivor feel confident in her or his ability to discuss trafficking with others without experiencing immediate retraumatization and having enough distance from the experience to be able to listen to another survivor and be fully present for their experience which may be similar or different from the survivor advocate. This allows survivor's experience to enrich their work in unique and critical ways.
 
 
What can an organization do to support staff or volunteers who are survivors?
 
1.  Rebecca Bender
 I agree with Jean here also. Being aware of Secondary Trauma is for any staff or volunteer and setting up parameters to ensure that the setting is damaging to anyone is crucial.
 
2.  Rebecca Bender
 One of the greatest things an org can do is to encourage them to use their talents and abilities outside of their story. Reinforce your belief that they bring more to the table than something that happened to them. Remind them that they ONLY have to share if they feel they WANT to. Another thing that an organization has done for me that has made me feel supported was the discussion of my payment and related it to the other professionals within the same org. I want to be reassured that I am seen as an equal peer that has value on this team.
 
3.  Jean Bruggeman
 Part 2: Additionally, if there is a specific position for a survivor, organizations should work with the survivor on an ongoing basis to set clear parameters on the expectations of the survivor (what s/he will disclose, when, in what venues) so that s/he is not put into an uncomfortable position or expected to say more than s/he is comfortable with. It is critical that the entire organization respect these boundaries at all times, in public, with the press, and within the office.
 
4.  Jean Bruggeman
 Part 1: First, there are some things that organizations working with trafficking survivors need to be doing to support all of their staff and volunteers to address vicarious trauma. Providing mental health services, adequate supervision and support, adequate breaks between client appointments or during trainings, and onsite stress reduction support are all important. It is critical for all organizations to remember that not all survivors will disclose their experiences. Any staff or volunteer could be a survivor and might need space or support.
 
 
How and where can organizations get trained to learn about re-exploitation?
 
1.  Jean Bruggeman
 That is such a great point Rebecca, ongoing training for staff is critical.
 
2.  Rebecca Bender
 GEMS does offer a variety of trainings that will assist any advocate, org, or survivor as they decide to get involved in this movement. I'd even encourage annual trainings to stay current for staff. Additionally, there are several great blogs written by Holly Smith, Rachel Lloyd and myself on this topic to get yourself acquainted with this issue.
 
3.  Rebecca Bender
 Julie! GEMS was exactly what I was about to recommend for related trainings :D
 
4.  Julie
 Hi, this is Julie from GEMS in NYC. We have an excellent training for service providers, that helps deal with this issue. Our VSL model helps organizations support survivors as leaders. (VSL- stands for from Victim to Survivor to Leader). Thanks!
 
 
Where can survivors get involved and supported if organizations don't have openings?
 
1.  Ashante
 Hi this is Ashante from GEMS, The Survivor Leadership Institute (SLI) aims to provide resources to survivors to develop authentic leadership roles and sustainable economic opportunities for survivors across the country both within and outside the movement.
 
2.  Jean Bruggeman
 There are so many critical ways for survivors to be involved in addressing human trafficking! Survivors can be involved in advocacy work as individuals or as a member of a survivor network- there are several working at the local, state, and federal levels. Survivors can volunteer at local organizations (in any capacity- as a grant writer, outreach worker, whatever matches your interests and experience) or as a mentor for other survivors. Survivors can attend trainings to build their skills and experience, reach out to researchers working on human trafficking issues and build a partnership to inform the research.
 
3.  Rebecca Bender
 While a paid position may not be open at a local org, volunteering and building a resume is helpful. I also recommend getting involved in the Survivor Community. Our org offers professional development for Survivors wanting to go into the movement. Rebeccabender.org/vmp for more. The National Survivor Network (NSN) has a forum with opportunities that arise that all over the US, including flying you to the event or org. Additionally, GEMS in NYC also has a VSL training and forum for both development and support. With technology now days, regardless of any openings, you can still get involved in a variety of areas you feel led to: Policy, Training, Consulting, Mentoring, etc
 
 
What other areas can survivors participate, other than sharing their story?
 
1.  Rebecca Bender
 I also consult for safe home development and curriculum development, I edit public service campaigns to ensure their accuracy. I even recently was asked to be on set of a movie to ensure accuracy. I am an advisor on policy for a variety of groups. There are many, many ways that survivors can engage.
 
2.  Rebecca Bender
 To add to that, while I choose to share my story, I have a variety of community trainings and mentoring services that have nothing to do with my story, including doing this very chat.
 
3.  Jean Bruggeman
 Survivor voices are critical in so many aspects. I worked on the development of the Federal Strategic Action Plan, and the feedback from survivors was so impactful for everyone working on the Plan. Survivors provide a critical insight to the development of realistic research, appropriate legislation, effective outreach campaigns and service programs, and policies and procedures that support survivors. I can't think of an area of the trafficking field that does not benefit from survivor voices, including those who are do not publicly identify themselves as survivors.
 
4.  Rebecca Bender
 Great question and one that is dear to my heart. Survivors DO NOT have to share their stories. We should never be pushed to obligated to share details of the most traumatic time in our lives. It saddens me when I see people suggesting that we "should" if we want to help. Survivors are people, they come with talents and abilities and dreams that they are valuable. Taking the time to learn those things and helping them get there is where you can start to identify areas for participation.
 
 
What is the federal government doing to learn from survivors?
 
1.  Rebecca Bender
 Many new legislative laws require annual trainings. I know that the FBI recently reached out to the National Survivor Network asking for survivor input on a handful of upcoming efforts including a training video and conference. I participated in training 150 FBI Directors in August which led to several regional Agent trainings. OVC also has monthly calls to the NSN where survivors call in on a conference line and they receive our input on a variety of items concerning victims of crime. Like anything, there could always be more, but this has been a positive step in the right direction.
 
2.  Jean Bruggeman
 The Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States http://www.ovc.gov/pubs/FederalHumanTraffickingStrategicPlan.pdf details some of the commitments federal agencies have made to incorporating survivors into their work. Increasingly, federal agencies are working with survivors (as consultants) in the development of outreach and training materials, and seeking survivor input as new efforts are developed. I think that this is a very important development and expect to see it continue to expand!
 
 
Is the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) Model used within SAMHSA's DFC Coalitions being used by any Anti-Human Trafficking Coalitions? If so where and/or if not, why not?
 
1.  Richard A. Sand
 Thank you... We too, Michigan Rescue and Restore Coalition is currently trying to use the SPF model and wondered if anyone one else was, and again thank you for your response.
 
2.  Richard A. Sand
 Thank you Rebecca for your response and here is a link to SAMHSA's website regarding the SPF Model that the Michigan Rescue and Restore Coalition has adopted for our anti-human trafficking mission, goals and prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership programs, training, education and community awareness projects... http://www.samhsa.gov/prevention/samhsas-efforts
 
3.  Rebecca Bender
 2. While the five steps maybe formed into this model, I see Prevention Organizations taking these very steps: assess, build, develop, implement and assess throughout most groups without calling it the "SPF Model." Most grants require that these steps are within the program and most agencies want to meet the need and then prove what they are doing is working. So, yes they are doing those five things, just not referring to it as the SPF model.
 
4.  Jean Bruggeman
 Thank you for this very interesting question. I am not aware of any human trafficking groups specifically applying this model to their work, but there are so many groups that it is impossible to know for sure! However, there is a lot of interest in applying models from other disciplines to address human trafficking, so it is an interesting idea to raise.
 
5.  Rebecca Bender
 Great question with kind of two answers from me: 1. I had never heard of this model until recently and I consult for safe homes and agencies across the world so I think knowledge that it even exists is minimal.
 
 
How was the H.T. survivor able to escape the traffickers and remain safe to that they would not force her into trafficking again?
 
1.  Rebecca Bender
 There are many ways to assist and empower victims to escape their trafficker and keep them safe from re-victimization. I think that topic could be an entire chat all on its own with which evidence based promising practices are out there, etc... Encourage the safe home or org you work with to get some expert training, whether that's through conferences, one on one or consulting services. However, do not do this alone. Vigilante efforts are not only dangerous but actually do more harm than good.
 
2.  Jean Bruggeman
 Survivors follow many different paths out of exploitation. It is critical that anyone working with a survivor engages in safety planning as a first step. Some survivors move to a new state, others cut ties with the trafficker's community, some need confidential housing, others need assistance in gaining legal immigration status. Survivors are the experts in identifying the risks they face and providers can often assist in identifying the resources needed for survivors to stay safe.
 
 
Do you ever conduct training for law enforcement on how to ID & serve victims? As a survivor, do you find that this increases the impact of your trainings?
 
1.  Rebecca Bender
 Yes and yes! I train Law Enforcement from all depts often and we see a direct increase of identification from it. I actually do this so frequently that I wrote my thesis on misidentification for law enforcement and train a lot of LE only sessions at conferences. If you would like to bring this into your community, please check out https://rebecca-bender-nxpx.squarespace.com/config#/|/
 
2.  Jean Bruggeman
 Law enforcement training is a critical effort. In my experience, everyone (law enforcement included) is deeply impacted by hearing from survivors.
 
 
Do you have any success stories about engaging survivors to pass legislation to vacate criminal histories of survivors?
 
1.  Jean Bruggeman
 Survivor voices are, indeed, increasingly sought as trafficking-related legislation is considered. I have attended many hearings on the Hill which include survivors on the panel. Most of the efforts related to vacatur laws will be at the state level, so I am not very aware of those specifics.
 
2.  Rebecca Bender
 Jean may speak to this more than me, but engaging survivors to pass legislation happens routinely. A variety of congressmen and state reps reach out to local task forces in the communities, many of which have survivors. Not all, but many! In regards to specific legislation vacating criminal history, there are many success stories of victims receiving this expungement. I personally just had my record sealed. It was easier and less expensive or work on my end. Felonies for crimes directly related to trafficking tend to be the hardest and least successful, but misdemeanors have had some success in some states.
 
3.  Richard A. Sand
 Working together with survivors in Michigan and on our Citizens Human Trafficking Advisory Board with Senator Judy Emmons has indeed resulted in almost two dozen new anti-trafficking laws this year.
 
Return to Discussion