LAS VEGAS –January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and local nonprofits, Signs of HOPE, The Shade Tree, The Cupcake Girls, Safe House, The Embracing Project, Dress for Success Southern Nevada, Olive Crest and Juvenile Justice Impact, are joining together to raise awareness about the pervasiveness of human trafficking in our community and share ways in which EVERY individual in Southern Nevada can help with education, prevention and support.
Every day in our community, people are exploited, coerced, forced to work without pay, to exchange sex for money or other things of value, or to work to pay down debts that will never be able be paid in full. Just like all aspects of interpersonal violence, human trafficking is based on power and control dynamics and the exploitation of vulnerabilities.
Many organizations in the community are working daily to support individuals who have been impacted by this issue, often on a 24/7 basis to meet the myriad needs of clients.
Food, housing, shelter, education, transportation, legal assistance, tattoo removal, career training, childcare – all of these are services that individuals who have been exploited may need once they are able and ready to come forward to get assistance.
Some important data to be aware of:
· The most common risk factors for children to be exploited are: having experienced prior sexual abuse; having spent time in foster care; and being in situations where they have run away from home or have unstable housing. (Shared Hope International)
· According to Shared Hope International, the top five places in which children are first groomed and recruited into trafficking situations: 1. Their own social networks 2. Their home neighborhood 3. Clubs or bars 4. The internet 5. At school
The more each person in our community knows about the REALITIES instead of the MYTHS of human trafficking, the closer we ALL are to a community where children are protected and not exploited.
All of the agencies collaborating in these efforts (see below for details on each) can use support from the community in many ways:
· Get involved as a volunteer. Complete online applications on the websites of these organizations.
· Provide in-kind or financial support – most organizations can use support with hygiene items, new clothing such as underwear, socks, leggings, t-shirts and sweatshirts. You can also contribute financially to cover programming aspects not already covered by grants and other funding.
· Become an advocate – attend advocate training to learn how you can get involved in both policy and individual advocacy to support the work of the partner agencies.
· Be aware – if you have concerns that someone you are in contact with may be being trafficked, reach out through the National Human Trafficking Hotline – 888-373-7888.
· Get educated – there are many panels, webinars, documentaries and other resources to help you learn more about this issue, in January and throughout the year. Follow these agencies on social media to stay up to date, get newsletter information, etc.
Signs of HOPE – Healing, Options, Prevention and Education – is a nonprofit organization dedicated to offering hope, help and healing to those affected by sexual violence and exploitation. Through its Resources and Integration for Survivor Empowerment or RISE program, the organization provides crisis response and long-term case management services, which include housing support, transportation, food, clothing and hygiene items, to victims of all forms of human trafficking. The Signs of HOPE 24-hour hotline number is 702-366-1640. SMS text is available at 725-900-2640. For more information including volunteer and donation opportunities, visit sohlv.org.
The Shade Tree is Southern Nevada’s only 24-hour accessible emergency shelter for women and children in crisis, servicing many who are victims of domestic violence and/or human trafficking by offering life-changing services that promote stability, dignity and self-reliance. The Shade Tree crisis hotline phone/text number is 1-855-385-0072. To learn more about the organization including volunteer and donation opportunities, follow The Shade Tree on Facebook @ShadeTreeofLasVegas and LinkedIn and Instagram @ShadeTreeVegas or visit theshadetree.org.
The Cupcake Girls provides confidential support to those involved in the sex industry, as well as trauma-informed outreach, advocacy, holistic resources, and referral services to provide prevention and aftercare to those affected by sex trafficking. We offer a wide variety of volunteer positions to fit an array of interests. Follow The Cupcake Girls on Instagram @cupcakegirlsorg or go to thecupcakegirls.org to learn more.
Since its inception, S.A.F.E. House has provided shelter, counseling, advocacy, housing assistance, and education to more than 85,000 people. S.A.F.E. House has provided services to victims of domestic violence in a holistic way that includes providing a full complement of services to victims from all races and backgrounds, offering culturally competent and linguistically competent services based on a trauma-informed model that responds to the individuals’ needs. For more information including donation and volunteer opportunities, go to safehousenv.org.
The Embracing Project, a Rite of Passage program, provides specialized trauma-informed services to youth victims of sex trafficking and sexual violence. Through its survivor-centered programs, the Embracing Project offers advocacy, transitional housing, life-skills support, alternative high school, and other services established to aid youth in their healing journey. To learn more about the organization, including volunteer and donation opportunities, visit theembracingproject.org.
Dress for Success is part of a global movement for change, empowering women to obtain safer and better futures. We provide each client with professional attire to secure employment, but we are about much more than simply a new outfit. Besides physically equipping the client with apparel and accessories, our programs furnish her with a confidence that she carries forever and the knowledge that she can actively define her life, the direction she takes and what success means to her. For more information including donation and volunteer opportunities, go to southernnevada.dressforsuccess.org
Olive Crest is dedicated to preventing child abuse by strengthening, equipping, and restoring children and families in crisis… “One Life at a Time.” ® For more information including donation and volunteer opportunities, go to olivecrest.org
Juvenile Justice Impact is a nonprofit corporation bringing awareness to the topic of the juvenile justice system in our community with some of its biggest leaders in the field. Its goal is for local organizations that work with troubled youth to get priceless information from experts that they may be able to apply in their own processes and procedures, and ultimately make positive changes in our community. For more information, go to drsusanfeneck.com/juvenilejusticeimpact.