How Natalia Found Freedom from Jail through Case Management

How Natalia Found Freedom from Jail through Case Management

Despite being free from her trafficker, Natalia struggled to stay safe while waiting for her apartment application to be approved. Her brain insisted she wait for the apartment, but her heart slammed against her chest and her stomach felt like a wrung-out rag. An uncertain future made her feel stuck with no other choice but to return to the person who once met her needs: her trafficker.

Back in the Life of sex trafficking, Natalia was arrested for soliciting. 

Natalia was arrested for soliciting

But when the Judge and District Attorney learned that Natalia is currently receiving care from our Case Manager Erin, they released her from jail. 

And, as of October, Natalia qualified for an apartment and moved in! 

Natalia is only one of many individuals currently receiving care in our case management program. Dozens of survivors are finding safe housing, attending support groups, and starting new jobs thanks to Erin’s support, encouragement, and care. 

Healing from trauma and starting life over again are not easy tasks. It’s so tough, in fact, that most survivors return to the Life many times before breaking free for good. 

What makes the difference between getting stuck in a cycle of exploitation versus breaking free? A support system. 

Erin's Encouragement

“[My clients] know what they need, they know what they want, and they know how to do it. They just need encouragement to get there,” Erin reflected. 

That’s why having a trained Case Manager is a gamechanger for survivors on their journey to reclaim their lives.

Erin calls her clients frequently to check in and make sure they have everything they need. If they don’t, she ensures they get it. She picks up groceries for them and helps complete police reports. She tells her clients she’s proud of their progress and reminds them to be proud of themselves, too. 

And YOU, our amazing supporters, make it possible for over 30 clients to have Erin as a partner and guide through their complex, daunting journeys. 

Because of you, Natalia is out of jail, healing, and forging a free future. THANK YOU! 

PODCAST – Why Do Men Buy Sex?

PODCAST – Why Do Men Buy Sex?

“How did I get here?” is a common question that men who buy sex ask themselves when they are arrested.

In this two-part, thought-provoking episode, founder of Demand Disruption Joe Madison digs into why men watch porn and purchase sex… and how they can break free.

Take Action:
Lead tough conversations with empathy language – whether its with your child, your niece or nephew, or sibling.

Create a safe space where they can come to you.

Learn more about Demand Disruption


Let’s Be Real: Developing Self Confidence in Incarcerated Youth

Let’s Be Real: Developing Self Confidence in Incarcerated Youth

“I have way more potential than I ever realized and I only learned that because of you.” 

– Elijah, Age 15 

Incarcerated youth face countless obstacles before, during, and after imprisonment that make them an easy target for human trafficking.

Breaking free from the “bad kid” mentality and developing self-confidence can pivot the trajectory of their life away from crime and exploitation and toward freedom. 

Youth in Juvie Face Countless Hardships that Traffickers Can Exploit.

Many minors are incarcerated for crimes committed while trying to survive or reacting to trauma.

Youth who lack caring parents, food security, a consistent place to live or who are victims of violence don’t have the resources they need to be safe or make healthy decisions.  

Homeless youth often resort to stealing food, selling drugs, or engaging in commercial sex to ensure they eat today or have a place to sleep. 

Trauma responses include fight, flight, and freeze. For a teenager, these responses might manifest as getting into fights or truancy from school. These could land the teen in Juvie.

  • Let’s be real: Youth are often incarcerated because something critical was missing in their life.
  • Let’s be real: Child sex trafficking victims are still being arrested for being exploited. 
  • Let’s be real: Just as in adult prisons, African American and LGBTQ children are overrepresented in Juvenile Detention Centers.
All kids in Juvenile Justice have experienced trauma.

Already without support, incarcerated youth are additionally traumatized by being incarcerated.

We mostly hear about these young people as numbers and statistics, rather than as human beings with complicated experiences and emotions. Teachers, parents, friends’ parents, judges, prospective colleges, and employers reduce them to “bad kids.”

Eventually, youth come to believe what everyone around them is saying: I am bad and unworthy of a better life.

Leaving the Juvenile Justice system can be just as traumatic and challenging as entering it.

If the teen comes from an abusive family, going home can be dangerous. Without good grades, school attendance, or a reference, getting a job becomes almost impossible. They may not have the funds to pay for therapy to address their trauma.

It is likely that their basic physical, emotional, and mental needs will not be met. Crimes like stealing food, selling drugs, or engaging in commercial sex become necessary for survival, and so the cycle continues.

A person with low self-worth, unaddressed trauma, and a criminal record is easy for traffickers to prey on.
  • Let’s be real: A stay in juvenile detention increases a young person’s likelihood of committing a felony by 33%
  • Let’s be real: Incarceration is common among trafficking survivors. One study revealed 91% of trafficking survivors had been arrested.
  • Let’s be real: Traffickers prey on people with exploitable vulnerabilities like homelessness, lack of familial support, and a criminal record.

How Self-Confidence Helps & How We Help Build It

We provide a free program called Real Talk in Juvenile Justice centers. This discussion-based program helps incarcerated youth break free from the narrative that they are stuck being “bad kids.”  It allows them to acknowledge their trauma in a way that helps them build self-confidence and a better life. 

One of our favorite parts of the program is the Acknowledgement Exercise. A UAHT facilitator reads a statement and everyone who relates to it raises a hand. For many, it is the first time they ever acknowledge the trauma: 

  • I have a family member who has been incarcerated. 
  • I grew up in a neighborhood where prostitution, gangs, and violence are common. 
  • I’ve lost someone due to drugs or alcohol.
  • I’ve been failed by a teacher or counselor. 
  • I hide my emotional pain. 
  • I feel stuck the way I am. 

This exercise helps participants connect the circumstances surrounding them to the emotions within them and the actions they make. Through Real Talk, incarcerated youth realize they have the capacity to grow and build a thriving life. 

“We can tell that YOU are real with us. You don’t put on a façade… you don’t try to be super authoritative and phony. You don’t just tell us what we want to hear. You’re real with us.”

“In a lot of other group sessions, I try and just say what they want to hear. But in your trainings, I feel safe to share what’s real because I know you won’t judge me.” 

So far this year, we have helped over 226 individuals address their trauma and build self-confidence through our Real Talk program! We are honored to step into the lives of youth who have been incarcerated and empower them to overcome their vulnerabilities, to stay out of exploitation, and to build a thriving life. 


5 Roadblocks To Escaping A Trafficker And How To Overcome Them

5 Roadblocks To Escaping A Trafficker And How To Overcome Them

Nila lived in freedom for 2 years after escaping her trafficker. But the threat of danger hung over her head as she tried to rebuild her life in the same city she was exploited. A few weeks ago, her ex-husband assaulted her and vandalized her home to the point of it being uninhabitable. 

She and her two children needed to flee before he took their lives. 

But Nila didn’t have the hundreds of dollars necessary to travel and start life over. 

Feeling stuck but resolved to break free, she called us for help. 

UAHT Case Manager Erin Martin jumped into action. She contacted a partnering organization in a new city and helped Nila apply for their financial aid program. 

What barriers do survivors face after escaping their trafficker?

Survivors face countless obstacles to achieving safety and freedom:

Barrier #1: Telling Their Story

The first barrier to recovering from human trafficking starts the moment they get away from their trafficker: telling their story of trauma… over, and over, and over again.

If a survivor calls the police for help, they must repeat the horrors of their abuse to each new person.

Think about it. You have to share the worst moment of your life with every stranger you interact with:
– Patrol Officer
– Detective
– Emergency Medical Personnel
– Intake Nurse
– Doctor
– Case Worker
– Therapist 

This often deepens trauma, as each retelling can feel like reliving those horrible experiences. 

Barrier #2: Reconciling Relationships

We see trafficking survivors struggle to reconcile relationships with their families and friends.

Amid the trauma, survivors may have said and done harmful things to these people. Even after they escape their abuser and begin healing, survivors may resort to defense mechanisms that cause them to become aggressive, run away, or shut down.

This makes it especially challenging to recover those critical relationships.

That’s why survivors need a network of support to guide them through the steps to regain their lives. By naming their trauma and learning coping skills, they can reestablish healthy friendships. 


Barrier #3: Making a Home

Like Nila, many survivors finally break free from their trafficker… but now have nowhere to go, no place to live. Moving to a new city to avoid being found by an abuser is costly. If a survivor makes it to a new city, finding an apartment is a challenge with a criminal record. Survivors are often rejected by banks for an account because their credit has been destroyed by their trafficker. How can survivors like Nila rebuild with no safe place to stay?

Sometimes survivors have safe families/friends to stay with and, thankfully, there are wonderful organizations with short- and long-term housing options for those who don’t.  


Barrier #4: Finding Employment

Trafficking survivors often struggle to find a job. For years, a sex trafficking survivor’s job was sex. Some feel like they’re not good at anything else.

They must start over from the beginning, rediscovering their skills and passions. From there, they create a resume, which can be a challenge for anyone. 

Many survivors have criminal records due to crimes their trafficker forced them to commit. And often employers have policies that prevent them from hiring a person with a criminal record.

Each step brings micro-barriers that add to the challenge. 


Barrier #5: Seeking Legal Assistance

If you’ve gotten married or divorced, filed a lawsuit, or adopted a child, you know how challenging and confusing the legal process can be.

Imagine how much more confusing it is for someone who overcame extreme trauma or who doesn’t speak much English. If a survivor wants to change their name, sue their trafficker, or press criminal charges, countless convoluted applications and processes stand in their way. A survivor encounters paperwork that they don’t understand, relives the trauma they endured, and fears for their life as they publicly accuse their trafficker. 

The need for human trafficking case management is increasing and we need your support.

How can we help survivors overcome these barriers? 

UAHT’s Case Manager helps survivors navigate every barrier they meet. Our program serves all adult trafficking survivors, regardless of victimization type, sexual orientation, or gender identity.  

A vast network of anti-trafficking organizations, long-term and short-term shelters, businesses, non-profits, and government entities ensure that every client’s needs are met – from this week’s meals to long-term employment. 

Since launching our Case Management program, we have served over 50 trafficking survivors!

The need for Case Management services continues to grow – and with it, our need for your support.  

Thankfully, Nila and her two kids are now safe in a new city! Your gift ensures countless more survivors will receive critical, wrap-around care. Your gift helps survivors like Nila live a life without having to look over their shoulder – a life built on the foundations of reliable housing, nutrition, and support systems – a life of freedom.

YOU can make a difference in the life of a human trafficking survivor. Please, donate today to help people like Nila start new lives of freedom and independence! 

15 Places to Shop for Ethically Made Pride Merch

15 Places to Shop for Ethically Made Pride Merch

As you may be aware, June is Pride Month! Pride Month provides us with the space to celebrate and reflect on the importance of the LGBTQ+ community.

Traffickers frequently target members of the LBGTQ+ community, recognizing and exploiting their need for a safe place to live, an income, and loving community. When a community rejects LGBTQ+ people, it leaves them vulnerable to trafficking. It’s estimated that about 7% of youth in the United States are LGBTQ, while 40% of youth experiencing homelessness are LGBTQ. 

LGBTQ+ adults are twice as likely than the general population to have experienced homelessness in their lifetime.

As members of this society, we have the power to encourage self-love and build community acceptance to help keep them safe. Embracing the LGBTQ+ community is fighting human trafficking.

Pride Month honors the progress the LGBTQ+ community has made and amplifies underrepresented voices while recognizing how far we still need to go. It is filled with parties, parades, and celebrations. If you’re planning on attending a Pride event or if you simply want to support the community, think about getting Pride merchandise from small, ethical businesses! 

Au Naturals

1. Space Montrose


Space Montroses mission is to bring handcrafted goods from around the United States to Houston in an accessible manner. About 70% of their featured entrepreneurs are Texasbased. Space Montrose sells apparel, jewelry, stationery, and much much more! 

2. Hyphen Boutique

Hyphen is a contemporary gender and sizeinclusive Houston-based boutique. They curate their clothing for bodies of all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages. They aim to be “you inclusive”! 


Benschop + Beck

3. Bye Gender


Bye Gender is a community-based organization focused on helping trans individuals access necessary funding to survive. Each purchase of a Bye Gender shirt, pin, sticker, or tattoo directly supports a trans individual.  


4. Beefcake Swimwear


Beefcake Swimwear produces one-piece androgynous swimsuits. All swimsuits are made with eco-friendly, ethical practices in the United States. Beefcake Swimwear also offers sizes from XS – 5X! 

Gold Clover Company
Redemption Song Foundation

5. We Are Fluide


We Are Fluide is a small, Brooklyn-based brand beauty brand. Their mission is to create vegan, cruelty-free, and paraben-free beauty for all skin shades and gender expressions.  


6. MeUndies

MeUndies believes that by creating the best basics they can help fuel authentic self-expression and create a more thoughtful and accepting world! Each purchase at MeUndies helps fight conformity and fosters acceptance through MeUndies partnership with organizations focused on lifting systemic barriers. Shop their 2021 Pride Collection! 

Refuge for Women Gulf Coast

7. PrideFlagSD


PrideFlagSD is a queer-owned brand that ethically makes Pride flags! All flags use American Sourced materials and are made in-house. 

8. Femme Forte


Femme Forte is a small, ethical fashion business. Their goal is to be gentle on the planet while providing inclusive pieces. Each Femme Forte collection raises money for a different cause. You can check each products’ page to see where your money will go! 

Green Toys
W3ll People

9. Otherwild

Otherwild is a queer womanowned store, design studio, and event space based in Los Angeles.

Founded in 2012, Otherwild prioritizes ethics and showcasing individuals. You can find products, apparel, and refillable bulk home cleaning and personal care products on Otherwild’s website!

10. Shapeshifters


Starting in 2014, Shapeshifters has been a leader for fashionable, size-inclusive, genderaffirming clothing. They offer one of the largest ranges for skin tones, sizes, and styles of binders! 

Meow Meow Tweet

11. FLAVNT Streetwear


FLAVNT is an LGBTQ+ streetwear Austin-based independent clothing brand. Their products are for everyone within and anyone who supports the LGBTQ+ community. FLAVNT wants customers to be comfortable and confident in themselves while flaunting that to the world! 

12. Many Many Moons Ago

ManyManyMoonsAgo is an Austin-based Etsy shop that offers LQBTQ+ apparel, stickers, prints, and pins! 


Equal Exchange

13. Bianca’s Design Shop

Bianca’s Design Shop is a small, Queer Latinx-owned shop based out of Queens, NY.  Bianca sells pins, creative goods, and other cute things! 

14. Revel & Riot

Revel & Riot is a non-profit run by members of the LGBTQ+ community. They use their t-shirts as canvases to promote equality and visibility. The sale of shirts is used to fund Revel & Riot, the LGBTQ+ community, and other non-profit organizations. 


Equal Exchange

15. Heckin’ Unicorn

Heckin’ Unicorn is a brand that’s made by queer people for queer people. This Singapore-based brand wants to provide people with ways to express their identity and to spread the message of love beyond the narrative of heteronormativity. 

Happy pride!

Check out one of these shops that produces ethically made Pride gear or find another local, small, ethical business to support! Happy Pride Month!