Sarah’s Home is a partnership with Maple Star Colorado. Maple Star works with a national consultant, Aubrey Lloyd, MSW who was recruited with her sister into sex trafficking as teenagers. She provided advocacy and awareness/education across the state, and provided individual therapy for other trafficking survivors, specifically minors recovered in police/FBI investigations. This program is developed from not just a professional methodology but from a personal perspective few people can fully understand.
This program does not look like traditional interventions. The foundation for this program is based upon building relationships. Trafficked girls have been hurt, exploited, and victimized in the context of a trusted “relationship”. Whether they were recruited by a pimp posing as a boyfriend or a friend or family member that recruited them into the life, they trusted someone that led to them being hurt. This does not just influence who they can trust in the future but being able to trust in themselves. Developing relationships they can trust so they can in turn begin to trust themselves is our first priority.
Although each girl in our program has a minimum of two meetings a week with her counselor the rest of the interventions in the home do not look therapeutic, on purpose. Girls that have had any contact with the system or an institution have the ability to quickly adapt and respond in “compliance’– to be discharged from that level of care. Girls that have been trafficked have an even greater sense of this, as part of their abuse resulted in compliance to follow specific demands by their pimp and/or their purchasers. Girls will tell us what they think we want to hear and appear engaged in traditional models.
We offer opportunities for them to be teens and engage in a routine schedule that allows for normalcy. We have arts and crafts, outdoor adventures, exercise and game activities on a daily basis. On the surface they can look unimportant. In Aubrey’s experience, because the girl’s don’t think this is “therapy” they begin to enjoy themselves and naturally open up over making dinner or playing scrabble. We also go back and explain activities they have done. Doing yoga is not just about fitness or stress reduction. It is about regaining the control and connection to your body. This is essential to trafficked girls as they are also victims of sexual assault.
Another important piece is the staff’s understanding and training around human trafficking and complex trauma. Many people including professionals can think a girl’s engagement in prostitution was her choice and/or not a victimizing experience. This is confounded with girls rarely immediately identifying as victims. Further complications are that large parts if society promotes pimping and vilifies prostitution or makes the whole industry appear alluring and exciting. This is incredibly confusing for a young girl. Regardless of their actions, their responses of wanting to be in the life, all of the girls we worked with, never honestly felt that. It was easier for them to say they agreed to it, than deal with being tricked and lied to, raped by multiple people, and losing control and access to their own body. All of our staff is open to conversations directly about sexual assault and trafficking experiences. This dynamic is essential to help her be able to first identify as a victim so she then can heal towards survivorship. This trauma is also triggered by smells, food, textures, locations, and people. An untrained staff may think a girl is being disrespectful or escalating from someone responding they care about her or that they support her. We understand pimps and purchasers say these very things to the girls. Our meaningful statement can be a trigger to those who exploited her.
General Items: Foundation for interactions and interventions
Roles and Purpose
Self-Care and Preventing Compassion Fatigue
Teen Specific Training: Understanding the girls we will be serving at Sarah’s Home and their possible traumatic histories.
Trauma & Identifying triggers: Understanding complex trauma and ways to intervene and support healing.
Mental Illness: Understanding various mental health conditions and ways to support.
Grief: Understanding ways to support a healthy grieving process.
Identity formation/ Empowerment/Value & Worth
Eliminating Negative Self-Talk: ways to interrupt negative self talk and promote positive self-talk.
Promoting the ability to Dream and Set Goals
Promoting Survivorship to Leadership
Creating physical safety and an environment free from exploitation
Sex Trafficking: Understanding the culture and identity of sex trafficking from multiple perspectives and ways to promote healing.
Sexual assault and Domestic violence: Understanding sexual assault and domestic violence and interventions to support healing
Eating Disorders-Understanding ways to identify and prevent eating disorders and support healing.
Nutrition/Exercise: Understanding the importance of proper nutrition and exercise as a benefit to healing from trauma.
Healthy Body Image: Understanding ways to support positive self body image and promote self esteem.
Suicide attempts/self-injury: Understanding the mindset behind and ways to prevent and intervene.
Addiction: Understanding multiple forms of addiction, patterns of the addiction cycle, and ways to prevent relapse and promote sobriety.
Child Development/Child Abuse and Neglect: Understanding healthy child development and the effects of abuse and neglect.
Mentor Specific Training: Roles and responsibilities for mentor program.
Three phase model of support and roles
Rescue: Providing support while girls integrate into home.
Renew: Provide support as girls begin to address their trauma.
Restore: Support goal setting and transition support.