Working With Survivors of Human Trafficking: The Case of Veronica


Discussion 1: Creating Alliances in the Practice of Social Work

Have you heard the phrase “straight but not narrow” before? This is an illustration of a statement made as an ally, where one acknowledges their special position of privilege while supporting those who are oppressed. You have already begun the process of becoming an ally by enrolling in this course. The steps to becoming an ally are described by Evan and Washington (2013) and involve showing support for those who are different from you, learning about various cultures, becoming aware of oppression and marginalisation, and becoming conscious of one’s own privilege. Participating in issues is a step in that process. You’ll think about finding an ally this week.

To get ready: Take a look at “Working With Survivors of Human Trafficking: The Case of Veronica.” Consider how you can support those who have been victims of human trafficking. Then visit a website that deals with domestic or international human trafficking.

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Describe the website you viewed in a few words.

Describe how you may help Veronica and other victims of human trafficking by using the knowledge you have gained.

Describe how you plan to start learning more about this issue and spreading the word about the victims of human trafficking.

Describe ways that people can become involved and support people who have been trafficked.

Determine the actions you can take to start assisting this group.

Citations (include at least 2)

The following authors (Eds.): Adams, M., Blumenfeld, W. J., Castaneda, C., Hackman, H. W., Peters, M. L., & Zuniga (2013). (3rd edition) Readings for social justice and diversity. Press, Routledge, New York.

(2014). Plummer, S.-B., Makris, & Brocksen (Eds). Case studies in social work: first year Walden International University Publishing, Baltimore, MD The [Vital Source e-Reader]

“The Case of Veronica: Working With Survivors of Human Trafficking”

Working with Human Trafficking Survivors: The Veronica Case

Veronica is a 13-year-old Hispanic girl who identifies as straight. She is in her tenth year of high school and attends. She presently resides in an apartment with her 9-year-old sister, her biological sister, and their mother. She arrived in this nation from Guatemala seven months ago. A human trafficking organisation in the United States recommended me to Veronica, a survivor of sex trafficking, for individual counselling.

When Veronica was three years old, her biological parents divorced. Before her mother went to the United States at the age of six, she spent her early years living with her maternal aunt and her biological mother. Veronica remained in the aunt’s custody at that time and communicated with her biological mother by phone and during her mother’s trips to Guatemala. Although Veronica said the two did not have much of a connection, she occasionally visited her nearby father. Veronica was forced into prostitution when she was 12 years old by her maternal aunt, who used the proceeds from sex acts as her primary source of income. According to Veronica, her maternal aunt started treating her “like a slave” and would force her to smoke an unknown chemical before requiring her to engage in sexual activity with numerous men in exchange for payment. Before Veronica was able to secretly call her mother and explain what had been happening to her, this had been going on for about a year. Veronica’s mother arranged for a “coyote” (someone who smuggles people into the US) to pick her up as soon as possible. In the two months that followed that phone call, the coyote was successful in bringing Veronica into the country. However, Veronica once again fell victim to sex trafficking offences as she crossed the border from Mexico to the United States. The coyote was also a pimp who set up sexual encounters with males crossing the border in the same truck as Veronica in exchange for money. Most of the truck’s passengers, including Veronica, were apprehended by American immigration police and sent to a detention facility. But the coyote managed to escape. Veronica was reunited with her mother three weeks after being imprisoned, following a protracted investigation and round of interrogations.

I saw Veronica for individual treatment once a week in my capacity as a social worker at a centre for people who have been victims of human trafficking. Veronica was identified as having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when she admitted to having sporadic flashbacks and the worry that “it will all happen again.” The objectives set forth in therapy included strengthening Veronica’s network of friends and family, enhancing her self-worth, and controlling her traumatic symptomatology. It took several weeks to establish a relationship with Veronica in therapy since she admitted to not believing anyone and desiring to forget what had happened to her. I was able to engage her through education on the dynamics of human trafficking after roughly nine weeks of relationship building and safety preparation. She claimed that she had a particularly difficult time trusting men and that she frequently struggled to speak up. I worked with her on these concerns by demonstrating assertive behaviours and teaching her how to be more assertive. In order to increase her self-esteem, we focused on self-affirmations. Veronica finds it difficult to practice self-affirmations since she is highly self-conscious. In order to promote healing and trauma reduction, I frequently used the S.E.L.F. (Safety, Emotions, Loss, and Future) programme for adolescents. Veronica claimed that the grounding methods she learned via this programme helped her emerge from her thoughts and return to the present. She uses a variety of grounding exercises every day to keep herself from losing herself in memories of what happened to her, such as tapping her feet, stretching, writing, walking, and cleaning her face.

Veronica has shown a lot of resilience. She says she believes in God and says she goes to a church not far from her house. She just started playing volleyball and swimming, and she has met many friends in the neighbourhood. Now that Veronica is secure and integrated into her community, we will reduce our meetings from once a week to once every two weeks. There are no survivors of human trafficking support organisations in Veronica’s area because she doesn’t speak English and is a minor. I’m trying to get her in touch with a mentor right now.

In order to secure a visa specifically for human trafficking (T-Visa), Veronica is presently working with the human trafficking organisation that referred her, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and an attorney. A T-Visa provides American visas to victims of human trafficking. The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA), passed by Congress in 2000, improves law enforcement agencies’ capacity to look into and prosecute cases of human trafficking while simultaneously providing victims with T-Visa protection. For those who are or have been victims of human trafficking, there is the T-Visa. It safeguards victims of human trafficking and permits them to stay in the country to support an investigation or legal action against human trafficking.

Working with Human Trafficking Survivors: The Veronica Case

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