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Responsible Call to Action: Human Trafficking Awareness Month

January 11th, 2022
by Dr. (Karen) Irene Countryman-Roswurm, Kalynn Cheyney, and Allison Farres

Fostering Courageous Conversations and Humble Curiosity

This January, we encourage you to foster humble curiosity, courageous conversations, and critical thinking as you explore your role in addressing abuse and exploitation. Human Trafficking Awareness Month is a time for professionals and community members alike to think about how they can make the biggest impact in this anti-trafficking Movement.

When you look deeper at the anti-trafficking field, you will begin to understand it is not homogeneous. Rather, it is a reflection of a wide range of views, values, and opinions of how to approach this work. At CCHT, we have emphasized holistic healing rather than short-term technical solutions, like “rescue” and “sting operations.” We believe anti-trafficking efforts must address underlying systemic and cultural issues that fuel trafficking. Our main concerns have been communicated through several questions: What happens after the rescue? What resources, organizations, and support are available to survivors? How will the law help survivors and how can it hurt them?

With that said, we recognize the importance of collaboration and the value in leveraging each moment. Each news story, documentary, or viral post has a big reach that many people will see. Our hope is that you take what you’ve learned from us at CCHT and apply it here. Do not settle and remain “shocked” or titillated, but rather let that move you into ACTION through education and conversations. Below are some key considerations to reflect upon as you engage in Human Trafficking Awareness Month and Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

Key Considerations for Reflection during Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Sex and Labor Trafficking Occurs in the United States.

  • Remove the “otherness” mindset. While trafficking does occur internationally, we cannot let it remain a “distant” problem in our minds. Yes, we need to care for our global communities, but we must remember to not let that skew our perspective of the prevalence and how trafficking appears in our own communities.

Support Survivor Leaders.

Engage in Efforts that Address the Adaptive Challenge

  • Adaptive challenges require leadership skills and competencies. While technical solutions are necessary, we must go beyond these interventions and truly address the root of the issue. Pay attention to how people are addressing challenges. Are they only focusing on the technical or are they engaging in more adaptive work? At CCHT, our work has always focused on adaptive challenges by addressing language, bias, and our response systems. Over the past year, in partnering with the Kansas Leadership Center, we have integrated leadership competencies in our work.

Rely on Evidence Based Practice (EBP).

  • EBP is what it sounds like: practices, tools, and approaches that are well researched and tested interventions, i.e., there is a body of evidence to support these interventions and their outcomes. Look for organizations utilizing these practices. For example, EBP are embedded into our Lotus ModelTM: Strengths based approach; Motivational interviewing; Harm reduction, and Trauma-informed care to name a few.

Pay Attention to Legislation.

  • Legislation impacts how victims and survivors are treated. For example, over the years we have seen survivors “rescued” only to be arrested and charged for prostitution. Our staff has helped develop and improve legislation at both a state a national level for more than a decade. Polaris released state report cards in 2019 – this a great starting point to understanding legislation in your state.

Invest in the Center for Combating Human Trafficking.

  • Lastly, we ask that you support and invest in the Center. We work to ensure all communities will be empowered and equipped to effectively prevent and intervene skillfully with those who have been victimized, survived, and overcome all forms of abuse and exploitation, particularly human trafficking. In our training and education of community and direct service professionals, we do all of the above. We understand the critical importance of continued education ensuring multidisciplinary professionals understand the nuances of trafficking in the United States, more specifically their own community; the importance of building up survivor leaders; utilizing evidence-based practice; and the role of legislation. Our education and programming integrates our professional experience, our research expertise, but our lived experiences as well. We hope to continue sharing our Lotus ModelTM with more communities in 2022!




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