Slavery dates back hundreds of years and has existed in different countries and different circumstances around the world since the first civilizations. When we think of slavery today, we tend to remember and study the past, but, although it may seem surprising, slavery is still very much alive today, and in plain sight. In fact, it is currently a 150-billion-dollar industry with roughly 46 million people worldwide being trafficked to date (2019), (Freedom K9 Project). In 2018 in the US alone, the National Human Trafficking Hotline reported having 10,949 cases of human trafficking that involved 23,078 individual survivors, 5,859 potential traffickers, and 1,905 trafficking businesses. Even more, they reported that 898 victims and 443 cases were in the state of Ohio, a substantial amount from around the Columbus area. Ohio as a whole is one of the states with the most cases. And because human trafficking is notoriously underreported, these numbers are likely only the tip of the iceberg, (polarisproject.org).
What is trafficking in persons?
Trafficking in persons is the illegal and dehumanizing act of recruiting, selling, trading, transporting, and harboring people by means of force, threat, coercion, abduction, deception, abuse of power, fraud, etc. for the purpose of exploitation. This includes, but is not limited to, the prostitution of others and other forced commercial sex acts, forced labor, slavery, servitude, forced begging, forced marriage, trafficking individuals as soldiers, for the removal of organs, and includes men, women and even children (un.org).
Anyone can become a victim, but it is important to note that some people are more at risk than others. United Nations sites that women make up 49% and girls 23% of all trafficked victims. Polaris Project lists factors such as migration, substance abuse, mental health disorders, involvement with the child welfare system, and being a runaway or homeless youth among high risk factors. As for who is trafficking and how, traffickers can typically be people of power and privilege such as company owners, powerful corporate executives, celebrities, or government representatives. However, it is also very common for a victim to be trafficked by someone they know and are close to like parents or other family members, friends, and intimate partners. These people are manipulative and deceiving. They’ll say what they think a victim wants to hear or play on their weaknesses, such as isolation from friends and family, often employing tactics such as physical abuse, mental abuse, and economic abuse to get what they want.
This year the theme for World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is first responders. These are the people working firsthand to support, protect, and seek justice for victims of trafficking such as law enforcement officers, social workers, counselors, and healthcare professionals. Because of COVID-19, the role of first responders has become even more important and even dangerous. It’s time we recognize these heroes!
Thank you, Alvis first responders, for all that you do for victims of trafficking!!
Learn What Alvis Has to Offer
Alvis is very thankful to be able to offer a women’s program just for human trafficking survivors called CHAT. This is a unique residential reentry program that aims to provide adequate resources to human trafficking survivors so that they may overcome their traumatic experiences and re-enter into society.
Part of what CHAT provides includes: safe and sober housing, holistic treatment services including clinical treatment for substance abuse and/or mental health issues and trauma, comprehensive support services including case management, life skills instruction and vocational services, and the tools to help clients build relationships with family, partners, and children. At the CHAT House, communication is key. Staff are sure to remain transparent and on-call for clients in need and emergency situations are tackled as a team.
Additionally, it is required that these women are graduates or participants of the CATCH Court, which was established by Judge Paul Herbert. Read more about CATCH Court here. Participants in the CHAT program must also have no recent violence within the past 12 months and a willingness to participate in the 18-month program.
Amethyst + Recovery Choices
Like previously mentioned, two high risk factors for individuals vulnerable of being trafficked are unstable mental health and substance abuse disorder. To combat these, Alvis also offers two behavioral health programs called Amethyst and Recovery Choices. In the Amethyst program, women with and without children can receive treatment for addiction, mental health, and trauma while also receiving supportive housing, job readiness training and placement. What makes the Amethyst program special in particular is that it allows women to live with their children and works to reunite and strengthen families. Amethyst takes walk-ins and women seeking help can go directly to the main treatment facility located at 455 E. Mound Street. Similarly, in the Recovery Choices program, individuals with justice involvement can receive behavioral healthcare and addiction services. Clients can also receive transportation from halfway houses to Alvis reentry centers, where they can take job training courses, receive counseling and individualized treatment plans, and have the opportunity to attain their GED, take university classes, and participate in activities with their family.
Additional Reading and Resources:
Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience. We believe in the power of second chances and coming together as one community to affect change. With our reentry, behavioral health, developmental disabilities, workforce development, family and children services, and the community, we can make a lasting 180 impact. Learn more about Alvis and how you can get involved at www.Alvis180.org.