Faith-based Organization Helps Trafficking Survivor Build a New Life

Woman waiting for metroScared, with no one to turn to, Carla (name has been changed to protect the privacy of the people we serve) was in a country where she didn’t speak the language. She had endured serious abuse as a victim of sex trafficking. She had already been trafficked across several states.

When the trafficking ring was raided by police, Carla was immediately placed in a detention center due to her immigration status. The law firm assisting her knew that Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington operated with support from the OTIP-funded Trafficking Victim Assistance Program and reached out to refer Carla for services.

While waiting for Carla’s release, the team at Catholic Charities went straight to work finding immediate shelter. When notice came that Carla would be arriving in the DC area within four hours with nothing but the clothing on her back, Catholic Charities was ready. Before she could access housing, Carla needed a health screening and tested positive for tuberculosis. The local health clinics had a wait-time of two weeks so Catholic Charities reached out to their partner, a local Catholic hospital. The hospital immediately scheduled the X-ray and waived all the medical fees. With her health screen successfully completed, and identification ready, Carla could finally begin to enroll in a housing facility.

Working with her closely for the first week, Catholic Charities helped with medical and dental care, new clothes, food, a phone, and personal hygiene items. Staff made sure she had the tools to become familiar with her new city, knew what transportation options were available, and most importantly connected her with pro bono immigration legal services to begin the process for her T-Visa.

After spending a brief time in transitional housing, Carla was soon moved into permanent housing.

She never thought this day would come. She was safe, and for the first time in a long time she was able to communicate with her family.

In just a few months in the DC area, Carla is making the most of her new life. Through the Employment Program at the Catholic Charities, Carla has found work in the evenings, so she can continue her intensive language classes during the day. Her English teacher says that Carla is the best student he has ever had. Carla navigates the DC area like a native, has begun making friends, and sees a therapist to help work through her years of abuse. While her journey to healing is a long road, Carla is looking forward to what is ahead and she continues to inspire everyone around her.

Catholic Charities is a sub-recipient of the Trafficking Victim Assistance Program. If your faith-based or community organization can offer services for victims of trafficking, email endtrafficking@acf.hhs.gov to get connected with details on program enrollment.

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January 26, 2018

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