Today’s post is written by Dr. Karen Countryman-Roswurm and Bailey Patton Brackin, LMSW from the Wichita State University’s Center for Combating Human Trafficking (CCHT). CCHT provides education, training, consultation, research, and public policy services to build the capacity for effective anti-trafficking prevention, intervention, and aftercare responses.
Nationally, January is known as National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. As with most concentrated awareness efforts, this time of year usually results in sudden rise of increased attention from the media, concerned citizens, political officials, and others in the community. While it would be easy for those of us engaged in anti-trafficking work day-to-day to minimize or disengage from this month (after all, every day is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month for us), ignoring the significance of this month is a great disservice to the movement as a whole, as well as the individuals who are victimized by this form of violence. Our country needs to hear from those of us engaged daily in the realities of this work, not to mention, from those of us who are survivors, thrivers, and overcomers. January is the perfect opportunity for us to not just educate the broader public, but to engage them in an intentional manner. After all, if we don’t stand up and lead the conversation, someone else will. And at the end of the day, awareness without purposeful action can cause great harm.
At the WSU Center for Combating Human Trafficking (CCHT), we believe that with the right mindset and a little planning, we can harness the increased attention and interest created by Human Trafficking Awareness Month to truly make a difference in the lives of survivors. This happens when we focus our time, energy, and resources on sharing messages that matter in creative ways.
Specifically, we believe that there are 5 messages you can share this January to make a difference in your community:
A few ways we demonstrate the importance of this message at CCHT is by:
One of the ways we have highlighted this message at CCHT is by hosting legislative hearings where we discuss the number of juveniles detained for offenses related to their victimization, as well as the harmful effects of criminalization.
This message is paramount to the work we do every day. CCHT, in partnership with our friends at MANY, promote methods of effective anti-trafficking responses all year long by offering training and technical assistance that is rooted in research and applicable to direct-practice.
At the CCHT, we rely on the efforts of our partners, allies, and ambassadors to assist in furthering the paradigm shift regarding commercial sexual exploitation. Additionally, it is together that we work to create a web of services that wrap around a survivor as they journey to achieving sustainable holistic health and prosperity.
Remember, your engagement in National Human Trafficking Awareness Month is a process. Start small with social media and focus on the messages that resonate most with your agency or community, or, consider partnering on an event. You can add to your programming each year as you figure out what works for your agency. Please don’t miss an opportunity to engage your community in a meaningful way this January.
Dr. Karen Countryman-Roswurm is a licensed master social work and a doctor of psychology with more than two decades of personal, professional practice, and community-based research expertise in the anti-trafficking movement. With various first-hand vantage points, and operating from a strengths-based and social justice perspective, she has served locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally as a street outreach worker, direct-service program coordinator, therapist, community response organizer, human rights advocate, researcher, educator, and public policy developer. Dr. Countryman-Roswurm serves as the Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Combating Human Trafficking and is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at Wichita State University.
Bailey Patton Brackin is a licensed master social worker. For the last five years she has been engaged in anti-trafficking work in various capacities including: direct service, training, research, and advocacy. She currently works as the Assistant Director for the Wichita State University Center for Combating Human Trafficking.
To learn more about the services of Center for Combating Human Trafficking visit http://combatinghumantrafficking.org.