Leading National Behavioral Healthcare Provider

Call 1-800-345-1292

  • ASCEND Program
  • May awareness
  • Devereux News
  • Who we help
  • Careers at Devereux
  • Inspirational messages of Hope banner

Print Send email Share on LinkedIn Tweet

Human Trafficking Awareness Month: Offering hope and healing to youth in need

“Human trafficking is an issue that affects every country around the globe, and children are especially vulnerable. We want to help victims who have experienced this unimaginable trauma to heal; realize their inherent strength; and embrace a future full of promise.”
- Devereux Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical/Medical Officer  Yolanda Graham, M.D.

Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to lure victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. In 2019, the National Human Trafficking hotline reported 11,500 human trafficking cases in the U.S.

During Human Trafficking Awareness Month in January, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health wants to highlight the urgent need to prioritize the fight against this form of modern-day slavery.

“Everyone deserves an opportunity to thrive and succeed in life,” said Graham. “For children and adolescents who have experienced emotional, physical and sexual trauma, we want to help them understand that their past does not define who they are in this world. For those who may be at risk for commercial sexual exploitation, we want to help them recognize warning signs to prevent trauma from occurring. That is our focus this year – prevention.”

Risk factors for human trafficking

Human trafficking can happen to anyone, but some individuals may be more vulnerable than others. According to the Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization that runs the National Human Trafficking hotline, risk factors for human trafficking include:

  • Involvement with the child welfare system
  • Being a runaway or homeless youth
  • Recent relocation
  • Substance use
  • Mental health concerns

Supporting child survivors

Devereux Arizona’s Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) program provides comprehensive treatment for children and adolescents who have experienced trauma as a result of commercial sexual exploitation.

“In many cases, human traffickers groom their victims by offering compliments, money and other material items. Children may not fully comprehend what is happening or recognize that they are being victimized,” explained Devereux Arizona Clinical and CSEC Coordinator Heather Brady, M.A., LPC, BHP. “The healing process is difficult and delicate as we strive to build rapport with the individuals in our care and a relationship of trust. We validate their experiences; help them understand what happened; and support them on their path to recovery.”

Devereux Arizona is part of the Mercy Care Human Trafficking Collaborative Process for Minor Victims (the Collaborative), which is a public-private partnership between Mercy Care (an Arizona Medicaid health plan), police departments, court systems and multiple human services, behavioral health and medical providers. The goal of the Collaborative is to connect child sex trafficking victims with the services they need to overcome the significant trauma they have experienced in their young lives. Since 2017, the Collaborative has served and supported 291 children.

“Children who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation have highly specific needs,” Brady noted. “Our treatment strategies are designed to promote hope and healing as we work to help these individuals understand their trauma; avoid re-victimization; build their autonomy; and create new, healthier and happier lives.”

In addition to Arizona, Devereux’s CSEC services, which vary by state, are currently available in Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health.


Latest News

Guests at Gala   Devereux MA/RI gala raises $225,000 to benefit youth, adults with disabilities

More than 200 guests gathered at the historic Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts, for Devereux Massachusetts and Rhode Island’s annual gala to raise critical funds for children, adolescents and adults with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences.

Jamaca Chavis   Faces of ASCEND: Meet Devereux TCV Outpatient Therapist Jamaca Chavis

Thanks to ASCEND, Devereux TCV Community Services Outpatient Therapist Jamaca Chavis is taking college classes to become a licensed professional counselor.

Crystal Taylor-Dietz   Devereux article on disparities in pain management featured in Behavioral Health News

An article written by Devereux National Director of Behavioral Health Services Crystal Taylor-Dietz, Psy.D., was recently featured in Behavioral Health News. The article – “Disparities in pain management: Examining cultural inequities and the critical role of behavioral health providers” – explores the history of cultural disparities and how behavioral health professionals can assist systems of care.

Group Photo at Grace's Place   Devereux GA opens Grace’s Place to support survivors of human trafficking

Devereux Georgia recently worked with Georgia first lady Marty Kemp, the state Department of Human Services and other community partners to open Grace’s Place, a commercial sexual exploitation recovery center for youth. Grace’s Place, located in Lawrenceville, helps survivors of human trafficking recover and rebuild their lives.

More Stories