Helping survivors of trafficking in Central TexasWritten by Piper Stege Nelson
Currently, there are approximately 79,000 minor and youth victims of sex trafficking in Texas. The SAFE Alliance recently launched a program designed to provide a comprehensive response for survivors of exploitation by creating opportunities to be, and feel, safe and connected.
SAFE CARES, which stands for Collaboration, Advocacy, Response, and Engagement for Survivors, includes a drop-in center, survivor advocacy and a specialized foster program.
Since launching at the end of 2017, we are already seeing an impact on the lives of young people being trafficked in Central Texas – people like Mariann.
When Mariann arrived at the SAFE CARES referral-based drop-in center at LifeWorks, she had recently been sexually assaulted and was still being trafficked. Mariann was extremely upset when she arrived and said she had suicidal thoughts.
The SAFE CARES team worked hard to provide Mariann with support and options, but she was still extremely upset by 8 p.m. when the drop-in center was closing. So we moved Mariann to SAFE’s Grove Boulevard campus and continued to work with her.
Unfortunately, Mariann continued to express distressing and suicidal tendencies. The SAFE CARES team was unable to leave her unsupervised and determined that she needed additional and immediate care.
And so we worked with multiple community partners to get her to a safe place for the night. Even after she left SAFE, our team continued to advocate for her and we remain dedicated to her success.
That night, Mariann found safety because of the incredible care and work of the SAFE CARES team – and this is only the beginning of how SAFE is impacting young victims of human trafficking in Central Texas.