In partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Center for Violence Recovery and Prevention, Brigham Health’s Center for Community Health and Health Equity recently launched a new initiative aimed at providing resources to victims of human trafficking. The program is funded by a three-year grant from the Department of Justice and the Office of Victims of Crime.
The Center for Community Health and Health Equity’s Clinical Program Director for Violence Intervention and Prevention Programs Jessica Loftus, LICSW, is the program’s site director for both Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She says victims of human trafficking have many of the same needs as victims of interpersonal violence, but are often faced with even more struggles.
“Trafficking includes both sexual exploitation and labor exploitation,” she explains. “These individuals have experienced trauma, much like the victims of interpersonal violence that we see, but their complex presentations may require coordination with other types of care such as addiction recovery services, they may have untreated medical conditions, they may lack funds to be financially independent or they may need help navigating the immigration system.”
Through the Trafficking Intervention Program, patients who present to the Emergency Department, OB-GYN offices and other ambulatory centers who may need help can be referred to the social workers in either the Center for Violence Recovery and Prevention or the Center for Community Health and Health Equity.
“We know that our advocacy model for victims of violence really fosters healing and engagement,” says Loftus. “But we don’t have a model like that for trafficking. Between the two sites, we are trying to leverage our collective skills and knowledge around other forms of abuse or violence to think about how we can offer a similar model to these patients.”
The program is still in its early phases but plans to expand by hiring more staff who will be available at both Brigham Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center sites. They also plan to launch a toiletry drive in the spring to benefit Bags of Hope, which serves women affected by trafficking, prostitution, addiction and homelessness by offering them support through bags filled with toiletries as well as information and referrals.
To learn more about the Trafficking Intervention Program and how you can refer your patients in need, contact Jessica Loftus, LICSW, at 617-835-9177.
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