The month of January is recognized nationally for Human Trafficking Prevention and Awareness. Human Trafficking primarily involves exploitation but comes in many different forms. LSF has a dedicated program in Tampa Bay to help trafficking victims— Trafficking Victim Assistance Program (TVAP).
Helping trafficking victims may look different than you think as trafficking victims are often physically and emotionally abused, threatened, lied to, and tricked. It involves more than linking victims to services, it’s about providing comprehensive, wrap-around services, and support so victims can recover safely and be set up for a successful future.
LSF’s TVAP program builds relationships with faith-based organizations, survivors, law enforcement, service providers, and members of federal, state, and local governments. Community partnerships are essential to raise awareness about human trafficking and reach the most vulnerable populations in our community.
LSF has a great relationship with Homeland Security and in 2019, LSF’s Anti-Trafficking Outreach Coordinator was invited to be a part of an operation in recovery of minor victims of sex trafficking. LSF was able to connect with a minor recovered victim after the operation and referred the victim to LSF’s TVAP program.
Additional collaborative efforts between Homeland Security, the Administration for Children and Families, and Victim Assistance Specialists ensured the survivor could recover safely.
From there, LSF connected the victim to comprehensive case management to ensure that the victim was referred to Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, legal services, and assisted with paperwork so the victim could immediately start receiving financial assistance.
Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, LSF was able to extend the victims case management services and financial assistance.
While receiving services the victim became pregnant and her newborn was born during an emergency delivery, transferred to the NICU, and had to undergo surgery. This additional stress caused for a greater need for assistance from LSF and the local community.
LSF’s Anti-Trafficking Outreach Coordinator had the victim make a list of her immediate needs. The number one thing the victim listed was food. Others listed were clothing, personal care items, diapers, assistance with transportation, and more.
LSF’s Anti-Trafficking Outreach Coordinator reached out to community partners, spoke with colleagues at LSF, and as a result was able to provide the victim with an abundance of food, diapers, multiple bags of clothing and personal care items, money for transportation, and additional financial assistance to help with housing.
The newborn is now released from the hospital and both the victim and infant are doing well.
For more information on LSF’s Trafficking Victim’s Assistance Program and Comprehensive Case Management Services, visit: https://www.lsfnet.org/trafficking-victims-assistance-program/