The following post appears courtesy of the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) Director Joye E. Frost
This week I was proud to host the Office for Victims of Crime’s Human Trafficking Survivor Forum and Listening Session at the White House Conference Center. Nineteen brave and inspiring men and women, U.S. born and foreign nationals, survivors of sex and labor trafficking, joined more than 40 federal representatives to explore how federal agencies could more strategically engage survivors in federal anti-trafficking efforts.
Together, we brought to life President Obama’s pledge to survivors at the Clinton Global Initiative: “We see you. We hear you. We insist on your dignity.”
During the forum, the White House announced the release of the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States. The plan identifies concrete steps that agencies from across the federal government will take over the next four years to ensure that the response to victims of human trafficking is more coordinated, comprehensive and effective. Offices across the Department of Justice will conduct research, increase training of staff, service providers and law enforcement partners on how to support trafficking victims, and coordinate funding to improve access to trauma-informed and culturally-appropriate services.
OVC is proud to have served as a co-chair in this effort, along with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families and the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign. The plan could not have been developed without the insights of human trafficking survivors and advocates who lent their voices and expertise through public comments last spring.
OVC knows that survivors have more to contribute than their stories of victimization. Survivors know, better than anyone, the challenges of identifying victims, accessing services, working with law enforcement and reaching underrepresented survivor populations.
Survivors’ unique insights can help federal agencies create meaningful partnerships to overcome these challenges. As Attorney General Eric Holder has stated so clearly before, “we will never be able to make the progress we need on our own…We must work with victims and victim advocates to extend our impact in helping to make lives whole again.”
I know that our work will be stronger with their continued help.
In OVC’s new public service announcement “The Faces of Human Trafficking” released at the event, one survivor tells us, “I’m so much more than what happened to me.” That’s why our video shows that trafficking can impact anyone – mothers, sons, advocates, educators, authors, sisters, brothers – and why OVC is committed to listening to and learning from crime victims. We are moved by their words and more inspired than ever to walk with them on their journey of healing.
And we encourage you to join us. Please visit www.ovc.gov/trafficking to learn more about human trafficking and ways to identify and support victims.
For information on OVC’s events and activities for National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, please visit http://www.ovc.gov/news/HumanTraffickingPreventionMonth/.