Building A Free Future During COVID-19

Building A Free Future During COVID-19

Dear Friend,

One thing we know, human trafficking continues even with social distancing. In fact, COVID-19 created a perfect storm for exploiting our community.

Traffickers are grooming young boys and girls on social media. They haven’t stopped targeting vulnerable people, desperate to pay their mortgages and feed their families. 

Although this is a harsh reality in our city, we haven’t stop fighting for the safety of our families, friends, and neighbors. We know lives depend on us.   

For the last 7 weeks, we’ve been continuing our work protecting people struggling with homelessness, substance use, isolation, unemployment.

To fulfill our duty to protect our entire community and help flatten the curve, we quickly pivoted all our programs to fit the “new normal.”

Youth are staying safe from traffickers online through the prevention education videos developed by our team. Our relationships with survivors continue to strengthen as we send encouraging letters and videos. 

Clients in shelters, Spanish-speaking communities, and refugee and immigrant communities are receiving life-saving resources through the PSA’S we provide to our partners. 

Health professionals, first responders, and our community have access to our webinars for free, so they can continue to fight human trafficking. 

We continue to help survivors escape to safety.  

As social distancing incrementally lifts, we are considering how and when we will transition back to providing in-person services, while taking precautions to keep our team and our clients safe.

These are hard times. However, my heart is full of gratitude for the emails, phone calls, and messages we have received from you, asking how we are doing and what you can do to help.  

Thank you for your love, support, and engagementWe can’t do our work without you. Together with hope and action, we will build a future where all live free.  

For Freedom,

Timeka Walker, LMSW | Executive Director

P.S. There are lots of ways you can partner with us to help those vulnerable to trafficking!

A Letter to Survivors

A Letter to Survivors

A Survivor Is

A person who continues to function or prosper despite opposition, hardship, or setbacks.

person who is able to continue living his or her life successfully despite experiencing difficulties.

A survivor –beats the odds, has courage and strength, and is a true inspiration.

A survivor is … YOU.

To any Human Trafficking Survivor, to any Domestic Violence Survivor, to any Addiction Survivor, to anyone struggling to find their way, and to anyone who has felt like things would never get better, this is for you.

Dear Survivor,

You are important. You are intelligent. And what you bring to the world is impactful.

Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Your purpose has always been bigger than your pain. You have had moments that you have overcome that many don’t know about.  Yet, you are still standing.

Your presence on this earth is meaningful. Your life lessons are meant to be shared with someone else who may have dealt with or are dealing with something you once did. You are the center of your own universe.

You are in control of your choices.

You have the most control over your own fate, destiny, and mood – which make up your thoughts, beliefs and actions. You decide how your life will be spent, and that is why you are important.

Your life matters. Your thoughts and actions can change people’s lives. You are valuable, you have purpose, and most importantly, you are a survivor.

Our world can be so negative, and people who are not empowering or happy with themselves may try to tear you down. Don’t allow it.

You are on a road to making your life the way you want it to be and even better. Remain on this road. Be happy on this road. Allow yourself the pleasure of inspiring yourself and others on this road.

I love you. I appreciate you. I appreciate you for being the individual that you are. I appreciate you for lifting yourself up when you felt like life was knocking you down.

Life is not easy, and yet, in the middle of a storm, you choose to go out in the rain and do what you need to do in life in order to get things done. I love and appreciate you for that. Always remember that there is nothing wrong with appreciating yourself and putting yourself first.

You are courageous.

You are not afraid to step out on a limb and go for your goals, no matter how difficult it may seem. It takes courage to put yourself out there, showing up day after day in the way that you do, fighting the good fight. You choose courage to brush the dirt off after a knock-down and get right back in there.

You have courage to honor your boundaries and speak to what needs speaking to, courage to not take things personally even when things get heated. It takes courage and resilience to stand strong in yourself knowing and trusting your own path, even when those you care about the most may be headed another way.

Still, when you may be criticized, you are courageous. You know it takes courage to address the things that may be hard and scary.

One thing I want you to remember is to empower yourself.

Self-empowerment is so essential. It’s also liberating because you are taking full responsibility for your life: making your own choices and decisions, and living according to your own personal operating system and values. You are free from the anxiety and fear of living up to the expectations of others, experiencing the joy of being authentically yourself.

Remember all of this, and you will go far. Empowerment is not an arrogant thing. It’s something that should make you feel good inside. If it ever makes you feel any other way, follow your own steps to eliminate that. Understand the growth that you have experienced and what is to come.

Recognize that growing is honorable.

When that happens, it shows that you are pushing yourself to become not just good, but great.

Personal growth is something you achieve consciously. It is a long-term project that never ends yet brings rewards every day. This is the project of building a self. Everyone has a self, which serves as a platform for all the things that happen over a lifetime. Upon this platform you can build a structure of values that become more fulfilling day by day. Growing is a part of life, and while it may be scary, it’s necessary to make it in this world. It’s something that pushes you far beyond places that you ever assumed you would go.

Take time every day to remind yourself of your highest aspirations, the hopes and dreams that make you most human. By nourishing yourself in this way, you are asking your highest self and soul to become part of your daily life.

To finish, I’ll leave you with this quote from Denzel Washington:

“Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship. So, keep moving, keep growing, keep learning. See you at work.”

Continue to use your voice. You are a survivor. You are important. You matter.

Au’Vonnie Alexander | Youth Coordinator

Why Do Survivors Need Case Managers?

Why Do Survivors Need Case Managers?

Survivors can focus on healing, rather than maneuvering through logistics.

 

A survivor’s healing plan is extensive and can be confusing. Each person’s process differs. That’s why a trained, professional Case Manager is necessary to build a custom plan to meet their needs: from immediate necessities like food, clothing, and tonight’s shelter to sustained needs like healing from trauma and substance dependency, building life skills, and living independently.

Survivors have accountability to attend every counseling session, job training, and support group they need.

 

Trauma rewires the brain, limiting new information. When a survivor takes the first step in their healing plan, they are overwhelmed by appointments that they were initially excited about.

But it’s nearly impossible to remember their schedule because their brain is still stuck in survival mode. Our Case Manager will ensure that the survivor has the encouragement to make it to every appointment vital to their healing. 

Survivors have a trustworthy professional to help them overcome the barriers of healing.

 

Survivors often trust the person who exploited them – a parent, a friend, a romantic partner, an employer. It takes work to learn how to trust again and time for us to earn it.

Our Case Manager will be a reliable guide, someone survivors don’t need to worry about judging or abandoning them.

With this strong foundation of trust, a survivor can turn to our Case Manager to remove language barriers, to provide a sense of safety, and to even navigate the frustration of small confusions like phone menus.

We care about each person’s entire story, and we want to walk with them the whole way – not just the first step.

 

Thanks to your support, we hired a trained Case Manager.

Thanks to your generous support, we hired Erin Martin, a trained Case Manager with over 12 years experience. She joined our team to work alongside survivors from the day we meet them until full recovery.  We need to make sure survivors don’t fall through the cracks. A survivor who feels isolated today can have a reliable and caring guide because of you.

$50 can provide a month of transportation for survivors to attend therapy, medical appointments, and job interviews.

$100 can supply clothes for job interviews for survivors to become fully independent.

$600 can ensure a month of case management for a survivor to navigate the challenges of healing.

$1,000 can provide the Family Huddle Series for a survivor and their family to learn vital coping skills.

What’s the Key to Long-Term Healing?

What’s the Key to Long-Term Healing?

CORA

Cora’s knee bounced nervously as the phone rang in her ear. It clicked then she heard a soft, “United Against Human Trafficking, this is Briana.”

Cora hesitated—then, “Hi, I’m Cora,” she swallowed hard. “I need help.”

It didn’t take long to realize that repeated sexual assault from countless solicitors meant Cora needed a long-term plan to help her recover physically, mentally, and emotionally. She needed a Case Manager, but we don’t have one.

Briana contacted a partner with a Case Manager, but their caseload was overflowing. They lacked the resources to help Cora, too.

I know how much Cora’s suffering weighs deeply on your heart.

You want to know that victims like Cora receive care, and you want to make sure they live free. We have a solution – one you can make a reality.

I have good news and I have bad news for you.

First, The Good News:

UAHT expanded to a second location in February!

Our new office is home base of our case management for trafficking survivors. Your 2019 donation funded the growth of our survivor support groups and preliminary case-management services!

Now, the bad news:

full-time Our program isn’t fully funded.

Right now, there aren’t enough Case Managers to guide the healing of tens of thousands of trafficking victims in Houston. Too many survivors like Cora have fallen through the cracks because there aren’t enough resources to meet every need.

We’re taking responsibility to make sure that all the survivors we meet get the long-term, comprehensive care they lack.

You – our community – have called on us to fill the gap by hiring a Case Manager to work alongside survivors from the day we meet them until full recovery. But we don’t have the funds to make this happen yet, especially after COVID-19 hit.

 

You helped us get the building, will you help a sex trafficking survivor live free from his abuser’s control – for good?

You’re the key to case management.

We need to make sure survivors don’t fall through the cracks. A survivor who feels isolated today can have a reliable and caring guide because of you.

$50 can provide a month of transportation for survivors to attend therapy, medical appointments, and job interviews.

$100 can supply clothes for job interviews for survivors to become fully independent.

$600 can ensure a month of case management for a survivor to navigate the challenges of healing.

$1,000 can provide the Family Huddle Series for a survivor and their family to learn vital coping skills.

How You Can Fight Human Trafficking From Home

How You Can Fight Human Trafficking From Home

With parks closed this weekend, we thought you may be looking for something to do while you’re stuck inside. Check out these 4 virtual training opportunities and stay tuned to our social media for more to come!

1. A 2-Minute Video to Help Your Kids Navigate Social Media and Video Games Safely
2. An Open Letter of Encouragement to Survivors
3. La Trata De Personas

A Mini Human Trafficking 101 Training in Spanish

4. Human Trafficking Webinar: For the Community

Monday, April 13th | 5:00PM-5:30PM