By Guest Blogger Antwon Martin, Communications Coordinator at Austin-based TNOYS member organization SAFE
SAFE CARES had only been around for a few months when Mariann arrived at our drop-in center for survivors of sex trafficking. At the time, she was reeling from a recent sexual assault and was still being trafficked.
Mariann is one of an estimated 79,000 minors and youth currently being trafficked for sex in Texas. Young people from all walks of life find themselves in a web of abuse that they often don’t even realize they’re trapped in.
They are the reason The SAFE Alliance launched SAFE CARES. The program is designed to provide a comprehensive response for survivors of exploitation by creating opportunities to be, and feel, safe and connected.
In Mariann’s case, the ongoing trauma left her experiencing suicidal thoughts. The day she arrived, our team worked hard to provide her with support and options, but she was still extremely upset by the time our referral-based drop-in center was closing for the day.
So we moved her to SAFE’s Family Shelter and continued to work with her. Her suicidal thoughts were distressing and it quickly became clear to the SAFE CARES team that she needed immediate care.
And so, we reached out to several community partners to make sure she had a safe, supervised place for the night. Even after she left SAFE, our team continued to advocate for her and we’re still dedicated to her success and supporting her as needed as she works through her recovery.
About SAFE CARES
The CARES in SAFE CARES stands for Collaboration, Advocacy, Response, and Engagement of Survivors. Our team of advocates serves young people, 12 years of age or older, who are survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and child sex trafficking.
We serve these youth by addressing the economic and social costs of trafficking with survivor-centered and preventative solutions.
SAFE CARES allows us to provide a comprehensive program specifically designed for this population. Due to trauma and a lack of trusting relationships with adults, young people who have been sexually exploited and trafficked respond best to services specifically designed for this issue.
Specifically, SAFE CARES provides the following services:
Referral-based drop in provides a physical location in the community where survivors can access trauma-informed, individualized case management and therapeutic services to help survivors meet their safety needs.
Our advocacy response includes a team of survivor-centered advocates who provide crisis response and support for survivors in the community to help them feel safe and connected.
SAFE’s Foster and Adopt in Austin program provides selection assistance, specialized training, and additional support for families to foster survivors of exploitation and provide them with a safe and connective home environment.
How to get in touch
If you think that you or someone you know might be a victim of trafficking or sexual exploitation, please contact our SAFEline by phone at 512.267.SAFE (7233), by text at 737.888.7233, or by online chat at safeaustin.org/chat.