January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. When I say trafficking, it’s likely that some sort of cartoon image comes to mind, maybe a boogeyman jumping out of a bush to kidnap vulnerable kids. There are a lot of myths out there about human trafficking, like the idea that most victims are kids who’ve been kidnapped and held against their will…or that most abusers don’t know their victims. The Human Trafficking Hotline lists other myths and misconceptions here.
Learning More About Human Trafficking
A large part of participating in the betterment of any systemic justice issue is learning about what it is—outside of what we believe it to be—and evaluating our perceptions alongside the new things we learn. One thing that has really been enlightening for me is coming to understand how intersectional so many of these systemic justice issues are. For example, when we talk about child anti-trafficking, one of the things you learn is that over half of these victims have been or were in foster care when they entered trafficking. And that’s compounded by high caseworker turnover and lack of access to school counselors, among many other systemic justice issues.
5 Ways to Get Involved with Anti-Trafficking in DFW:
1) Education & Awareness
Busting myths and learning more about trafficking is important. Talking to friends about it can also make a big difference. In fact, Traffick 911 has a Freedom Gathering dinner kit that gives you videos to watch and downloadable conversation guides. Who doesn’t love getting together with friends to make a difference? When we talk about getting educated on something like this, it’s also important to remember to listen to those being directly impacted: survivors and professionals.
Did you know that you can donate to organizations without spending any extra money?! If you go into your Kroger account, for instance, you can specify what charity you want them to donate to every time you spend a certain amount. And if you use Amazon, you can go to Amazon Smile and pick a non-profit to donate to as well (just type in Amazon Smile into the URL bar before you check out to utilize it)! Anti-trafficking organizations in DFW all need monetary funding. Beyond that, they also need physical donations and volunteers. There are a lot of possible ways to give.
3) Host or Participate in Fundraisers
For better or worse, many non-profits survive off of fundraisers. Participating can mean as much as helping to organize an event, or as simple as donating to a runner or bidding in an auction. Shopping from organizations (like these shirts from 611) lends financial support and raises awareness when you wear the merch. And, of course, the pandemic has created an expanded need for creative fundraising ideas.
If you have a few hours to help with a one-time event or time every week/month to help sort donations or tutor, those are all awesome ways to volunteer. There are a hundred ways to volunteer because there are so many organizations doing the important work of anti-trafficking in DFW. Traffick 911 has some virtual trainings coming up for volunteers; find lots more info on service opportunities here.
5) Evaluate Your Impact
I used to say the phrase ‘everyone can do something’ a lot. One of the most difficult things I’ve learned is that we already are doing something: My choices have impacts far beyond what I am comfortable acknowledging. One of the largest factors in human trafficking, and the number of children in foster care, is poverty. And as someone living in a consumer-driven society, my spending choices have a direct affect. We can evaluate what we are already doing and also what we can do. Could you commit this month to watching some educational videos? To reading more about the myths? Reading a survivor’s story? Becoming a donor? Volunteering? Small steps add up!
Bonus! Listening to and learning from survivors is one of the most important ways to get involved in anti-trafficking. Check out some survivor stories from International Justice Mission.
Local Anti-Trafficking Resources
There are SO many places you can volunteer with or donate to that work to help victims of human trafficking in DFW. I’ve only had personal experience with IJM and Traffick 911. The list below is not exhaustive, but it’s a great starting point for getting involved in anti-trafficking in the DFW area. Click any of the links to find our more.
The North Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking meets monthly and connects different agencies, volunteers, and resources. They also do trainings and presentations.
Out of Dallas, New Friends New Life exists to provide comprehensive help for survivors of sexually exploited women and their children. They also participate in anti-trafficking advocacy.
Also out of Dallas, POETIC provides comprehensive support for girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited directly out of the juvenile justice system.
Out of Plano, Reclaim611 is all about equipping professionals on the front lines to identify and provide resources to victims of human trafficking.
In Richardson, Refuge City provides safety, housing, education, and reintegration services for survivors of sex trafficking.
Operating out of Dallas, the Refugee Services of Texas STEP program is designed to help survivors transition into stability. They are unique in that they help victims of all types of exploitive crimes regardless of age, race, gender, or citizenship status. Find out more here.
Out of Addison, Traffick911 seeks to build relationships and offer assistance to youth to survivors to help with healing. They also have a great education page with facts and myths about trafficking.
Out of Frisco, the Treasured Vessels Foundation provides intensive and long-term services to survivors of sexually exploitive crimes.
In Dallas, CitySquare provides a wide array of social services to fight poverty including legal services for youth survivors.
Out of Carrollton, 4theONE works to locate and recover missing and exploited teens. They provide aid to law enforcement with technology and volunteers.
Based in Dallas and serving North Texas, Mosaic Family Services aids survivors of all kinds of human rights violations.
Out of Fort Worth, The Net works to educate the public and support survivors.
Also operating out of Fort Worth, Unbound North Texas provides 24/7 crisis response and advocates for survivors and their cases with other local agencies.
Thanks for checking out this post on getting involved in anti-trafficking in DFW!
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