Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Learning Lessons from Aftercare

Working with survivors of sex trafficking is difficult work. There are no easy solutions and there is not a singular way to do this 'right'. In fact, at this moment in history, we are a learning community, exploring the best options for services and models of care. We have chosen an approach that is highly individual and we are focused on quality care. This means that the cost of 'doing business' is much higher than the typical model, which provides basic needs, love, and some specialized services.

Instead, we are taking the approach of 'this is what we would do for our own daughters', which creates a much more challenging situation. Girls that have been sexually trafficked are not your 'normal' teenager. They are girls that have been exploited and exposed to some pretty horrible things. They have been mistreated, abused, and conditioned to respond to things like 'love' in a much different way than a normal, healthy teenage girl. They see things through a lens of their experiences and perceive the world in a skewed way.

Our job, is to create a safe place for girls to begin the process of re-conditioning their emotions, perceptions, and view of the world in a healthier way. That means, for girls, that they need a place (and a program/staff) where they can talk about their pain, their experiences, their hopes, and their dreams for the future. Transitions Global's approach is a holistic one - so we incorporate a highly therapeutic environment for girls to work through their trauma, but at the same time, also providing a 'home like' environment for girls to belong and be a part of a family. Life skills, socialization, education, and lots of love (and patience) go into our work in Cambodia.

The area of victim services to this population is continuing to grow. As we do, it will be important that we seek quality over quantity and look for new and innovative ways to help victims heal. Not just healing to the place of a 'survivor', but beyond that. We need to help survivors develop the strength and capacity to engage in the world and make a difference in the next generation. We owe it to them and we owe it to the next generation of vulnerable girls and women globally.

If any of you reading have insights into what 'healing' looks like or ideas about recovering from trauma, we welcome your comments. We don't have all of the answers, but we are committed to seeking them out - because, it is what we would do for our own daughters.

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