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Human trafficking awareness: Empowering youth survivors to break the cycle of abuse

“Human trafficking is an incredibly complex issue that affects us all. We must work together to end this horrific form of abuse, and help survivors recover and rebuild their lives.”
– Devereux Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical/Medical Officer Yolanda Graham, M.D.

Since its inception in 2007, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has reported more than 80,000 cases of human trafficking in the U.S. In 2021 alone, the hotline reported more than 10,000 cases.

During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health is highlighting the importance of empowering survivors to break the cycle of abuse, regain their independence and take control of their lives.

“Human trafficking occurs every day in our communities. The victims are someone’s daughter, son, mother, father or friend,” said Graham. “Oftentimes, those who have experienced this unimaginable trauma are at risk of being re-victimized. We want to help these individuals find their voice, build resilience and live healthy, happy lives free from exploitation.”

‘Ending the Game’ curriculum

To help reduce re-victimization among sexually exploited children, Devereux is implementing “Ending the Game” (ETG) a coercion resiliency curriculum, in its Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) programs in Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

ETG is designed to educate and empower survivors “by providing a structure and framework to uncover harmful psychological coercion that victims may have been subjected to during, or before, their exploitation experience.”

At Devereux Georgia, Clinical Director Amy Waldron, LPC, BCBA, says the 10-week curriculum helps “break the strong bonds created by exploiters and traffickers.”

“ETG focuses on building resilience and helping youth understand the ‘game’ that was played on them in terms of being manipulated when they were most vulnerable,” Waldron explained. “Youth connect with, and relate to, ‘survivor sisters,’ women who have survived exploitation and have been able to ‘end the game.’ These women, including ETG founder Rachel Thomas, who are now ‘survivor leaders,’ participate in the curriculum by supporting youth and sharing information about their own personal experiences. ETG helps youth shift their mindset and focus on achieving a healthier and safer life.”

Youth testimonials

Devereux Georgia youth who have completed the ETG curriculum say it has had a significant impact on their lives. Look below to find out what just a few of them have learned from participating in the program.

“Learning about the signs of an abusive relationship.”

“To love myself.”

“I’m not alone in my trauma, and most people have hard stories.”

“That I was manipulated by the man I thought I ‘loved.’”

How to report possible trafficking

If you, or someone you know, is a victim of human trafficking, remember, help is available.

If you need immediate assistance, please call 911. If you believe you may have information regarding a trafficking situation, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline through one of the following methods:

Learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health.

  

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