Research has identified faith and spirituality as a resilience factor for those subjugated to or at risk for sexual exploitation.1 However, far too often youth-serving organizations fail to attend to faith and spirituality when designing program services and in supporting mentoring relationships. Faith communities can be a major resource for these types of programs, yet we often do not include them in the conversation of serving victims/survivors of trafficking and at-risk youth. Engaging these communities not only benefits the mentees, but can potentially offer another support system for programs and mentors.
Sustainability addresses how organizations can effectively adapt to changing environments (i.e. staff turnover, funding and policy changes, new community needs, etc.) in order to maintain consistent, quality services.1 Putting time and energy into sustainability is essential if social service agencies are to create lasting benefits for the community. Neglecting to foster sustainability can result in a loss of programs and services deeply needed by the community. These losses, and the resulting staff turnover, often make it difficult to pass on knowledge and program learnings gained even if services are restored in the future. Sustainability is critical for organizations to maintain their results and impacts beyond their initial sources of funding to continue meeting the needs of the communities they serve.
Stress is a natural component of everyday life. However, those who work in direct service professions (either as volunteers or career professionals) will likely encounter additional stress because of the nature of their responsibilities. These individuals walk alongside and support people who are navigating various stages of their healing journey. They are exposed to stories about past and current trauma, and such exposure can have a significant impact.1,2,3 Staff and mentors working with young people who have been commercially sexually exploited can experience what is referred to as vicarious trauma, secondary trauma, or secondary traumatic stress. This occurs when a staff or mentor goes beyond hearing about trauma to re-experiencing it along with the person.2,3,4 The continual exposure to traumatic material can result in both physical and psychological symptoms.5 The accumulation of this stress over a period of time increases the risk for compassion fatigue and burnout. Self-care and mindfulness can be effective ways for staff and mentors to manage the additional stressors of supporting victims/survivors.
To be an effective mentor, one must have a genuine interest in a young person and their future. Mentors must also be prepared to take on the responsibility that comes with being present in their mentee’s life. Failing to meet these commitments can have devastating results for youth, particularly those who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation. Victim/survivors likely have experience with adults who have exited their lives abruptly, broken promises, or otherwise let them down.
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 [Read further...]
About The Webinar On January 30, in recognition of National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, the Wichita State University Center for Combating Human Trafficking (CCHT) and MANY presented “Understanding the Complexities of Commercial Sexual Exploitation.” Dr. Karen Countryman-Roswurm, CCHT’s Founder and Executive Director, discussed specific circumstances that put individuals at risk of victimization and what helps them survive—and even thrive—despite abuse and exploitation. As participants considered the pervasive impacts (biological, physical, psychological, and spiritual) on persons affected by commercial sexual exploitation, Dr. Roswurm emphasized the need to also celebrate the resiliency evident in the journey from victim to survivor. Hosted by [Read further...]
“Enslave the liberty of but one human being and the liberties of the world are put in peril.” – William Lloyd Garrison Introduction Wichita State University Center for Combating Human Trafficking and MANY, in partnership with the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention, offers this toolkit as a resource for multidisciplinary professionals, policy makers, volunteers, faith communities, and others involved in anti-trafficking work. Shining Light on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: A Toolkit to Build Understanding provides information on a variety of topics related to human trafficking with a specific focus on mentoring for commercial sexual exploitation victims. [Read further...]
“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.” — Denzel Washington People need people. We are social creatures! Each of us needs someone to encourage us when things go wrong and to cheer for us when we have success. So often it is others who see our potential and remind us of our worth. For youth who are at risk for [Read further...]
Mentoring for Youth with Backgrounds of Involvement in Commercial Sex Activity This literature review by David DuBois and Jennifer K. Felner at the University of Illinois at Chicago examines research on mentoring for youth with experiences of or at high risk of commercial sex activity and sexual exploitation. It presents information around documented effective practice and implication for practice. To read the full literature review, click here: Mentoring for Youth with Backgrounds of Involvement in Commercial Sex Activity
This guest post was written by Tina Kelley, a speaker at Connection 2014 when she was writer-in-residence at Covenant House International. In her presentation at Connection she spoke of the importance of telling the stories of the youth your agencies serve, as well as learning the lessons from our inevitable failures in telling those stories. She spoke of the young people she and Covenant House President Kevin Ryan interviewed for their national bestseller, Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope. You can watch a portion of her presentation below, or watch the full presentation. In this post, she [Read further...]