FCASV Insight January 2020

FCASV Insight January 2020  


Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Most of us are unaware of the large number of human trafficking victims and survivors living right in our own communities. The physical abuse, emotional damage, shame, and deep rooted scars have created a silence among those affected. We may not always see the problem, but it’s there. Nationally, it is estimated that over 24 million people are victims of forced labor, by violence and other means (1). In the U.S.,Florida remains one of the top states for human trafficking cases reported.

In recognition of Human Trafficking Awareness Month, we have highlighted quick facts below.

There's a pattern.

Not all traffickers are masked assailants or strangers. In fact, many survivors are victimized by someone they know and trust. There is a three-phased approach that the typical trafficker uses.

ScoutingAn individual may use grocery stores, public transit, friends or associates, and other social settings to target victims.

ManipulationA trafficker may seem to closely relate to their target, act as a partner/companion, give generously of material possessions, or offer false opportunities such as jobs that may appeal to the victim.

TrappingPerpetrators may control or coerce an individual into trafficking using false claims of love, drugs, and violence or threats to victims and their families.

Children and teens are targeted “in plain sight.”

It has become common-place for perpetrators to target minors through social media or gaming sites. Over several weeks or months, a victim may be groomed by a predator appearing to be a peer or individual of the same age. It is important to educate young groups on the warning signs of potential predators—reminding them not to share private information such as their name, address, or school location can prevent disappearances and victimization.

It’s complicated.   

Believe it. Human trafficking is everywhere. Victims can be of any age or gender. It's categorized as both a domestic and global crime. However, the roots of human trafficking are deep and wide. The causes of human trafficking are complex and include social, economic, and political factors. Poverty alone does not create vulnerability to trafficking, but can often lead to a higher risk. Traffickers may not resemble stereotypical figures, making it difficult to recognize signs or indicators of activity. Keep in mind: traffickers can be doctors, lawyers, or individuals of great financial means and power too.                               

In the fight against human trafficking, partnerships within the communities we serve is what's most important. Local anti-trafficking groups and advocacy centers serve as a resource for victims and offer ways to get involved.

Human Trafficking Resources and More Information


(1) Safe Horizon, "Human Trafficking Statistics and Facts" https://www.safehorizon.org/get-informed/human-trafficking-statisticsfac...


Policy, Support, Action: Senator Rodriguez Pushes Residential Safety and Security for Sexual Violence Victims

Ready or not, it's legislative session! It is a time where the Council and our allies work to better our communities. During the 2020
Florida Legislative Session, lawmakers will be faced with a number of critical issues. One lawmaker's plan provides a safety net for victims of violence.

Senator Rodriguez's bill prohibits a landlord from evicting or terminating a residential lease if the tenant is a victim of sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking. If passed, this will allow victims to end a residential agreement without the forfeit of any deposit funds or advance rent payments upon ending the agreement—eliminating additional stress and unjustified penalties. Survivors of abuse often escape life-threatening violence, and making sure they have safe housing is a crucial step in a survivor's long-term security.

Senator José Javier Rodriguez represents District 37—which includes a substantial part of Miami-Dade. Senator Rodriguez has a history of fighting for undeserved individuals.

"Our landlord-tenant laws have been out of balance for a long time, tipping the balance in favor of landlords...we need to make sure tenants are protected as they spend more and more simply to keep a roof over their head.” (2)

This is not the first time he has fought on behalf of sexual violence victims and we are pleased to support his call for greater protections. While advocating for victims in Tallahassee can be difficult, Senator Rodriguez is encouraged by success in the past and will continue to push for more protections for all survivors. Organizations who are also in support of this bill include: Community Justice Project, Organize Florida, and Faith in Florida. We applaud Senator Rodriguez for combating the exploitation of vulnerable renters.

Prior to becoming part of Democratic leadership in the Florida Senate, Senator Rodriguez served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2012 to 2016. Before being elected in 2012, he served as a legal aid lawyer after earning a degree from Harvard Law School. Senator Rodriguez spent nearly three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, and has taught as an adjunct professor at the Carlos A. Costa Immigration & Human Rights Clinic at Florida International University (FIU). As a public figure committed to serving his community, he has been deemed "a powerhouse in the legislature...willing to work hard for the right causes..."(3)

Senator Rodriguez's support and advocacy brings further awareness of the plight of victims of sexual violence—illuminating the many barriers we are committed to breaking!

(2) Capital Soup, "José Javier Rodriguez & Rep. Carlos G. Smith File Groundbreaking Renters Rights Legislation" https://capitalsoup.com/2019/03/07/senator-jose-javier-rodriguez-rep-car....

(3) "Meet José Javier" https://jjr2018.com/meet-jose-javier/.


FCASV Welcomes New Employees                                                                                        

Nneka K. Abara, Information and Member Services Coordinator                                                                               

 Nneka is a Florida A&M University alumna with a professional background in communications, consulting, and pre-law. While working for the Florida HIV/AIDS Drug Assistance Program, she gained first-hand knowledge of the hardships faced by the under-served—further influencing her goal to help those dealing with harsh realities that many face. Nneka has also worked as a tech writer and editor, analyst, and marketing specialist for businesses during the past decade. She is pleased to join FCASV and is dedicated to the agency’s mission.

 What do you like the most about your new role?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

I enjoy keeping our staff and communi to create ways to normalize and increase the conversation about sexual violence. It deserves our attention.  ty partners aware of current issues. It is also wonderful to collaborate with a group of people on the same mission, supporting the same ideals. Ensuring that victims know that there are safe spaces to be heard and to heal is one of the best aspects. I am happy to create ways to normalize and increase the conversation about sexual violence. It deserves our attention.     

What is one thing you cannot go without?      

Well, there's a tie. Nigerian chicken stew was a household staple growing up, so I've simply got to have it. And, I must have coffee. It's my daily fuel...medium-roast hazelnut coffee with a dash of sugar, to be exact.

What is your favorite quote? 

One of my favorites is by John Lennon. “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” I strongly believe in divine timing.

Taylor Biro, Director of Strategic Initiatives                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Taylor has organized and collaborated with countless grassroots projects spanning over a decade. Before joining FCASV, she served as the Director of Going Places—a street outreach program for Capital City Youth. Additionally, Taylor is on the board for Capital Tea, which is a local nonprofit providing support groups for people who are transgender, while promoting inclusive spaces for members of the LGBTQ+ community. She is excited to work alongside the heroes at FCASV.                 


What fictional place would you like to visit and why?

I would love to visit Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I genuinely believe that the owl who was assigned to deliver my admission letter is lost somewhere looking for me. I swear I am magical, and if I could just get to Hogwarts, I know that I can fine-tune these skills… Until then, I will continue to hang out with the muggles who, as it turns out, aren’t so bad after all.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?​ 

 When I worked with youth who were homeless, I had a supervisor who would tell me, “you can’t drink from an empty cup.” We work in a field where there is so much trauma, and as we work to help others heal, we experience secondary trauma. Many of us have our own trauma’s that we are working through as well. It’s just so important to check in on yourself and to be kind to your body and mind.

Do you have a personal motto or mantra?

My personal motto changes as I need, but, currently, I am reminding myself that “we are stronger together.” More often than not, if we try, we will be able to find common ground with our neighbors. Once we see that common ground, we can then listen and grow from each other’s experiences.

Isabel Pang, Technical Assistance and Training Coordinator

Isabel is a graduate of the University of South Florida, where she studied Criminology. Her experience in the anti-violence movement was
cultivated at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, where she worked on the suicide prevention hotline and their rape crisis program. She has facilitated workshops on healthy relationships, bystander intervention, and has led empowerment groups for LGBTQ+ youth. Isabel's passion for the work of FCASV stems from her desire to innovate and perfect systems that respect the intersectional identities of survivors of sexual abuse and assault.

What do you believe is the most important aspect of your new job?

Ensuring that the helpers in the field are prepared as much as possible in serving survivors of trauma is, in my opinion, one of the most essential factors in a survivor’s success. Survivors need advocates and systems to be traumainformed, and fully trained to advocate on their behalf as they navigate their healing journey. My position allows me to get a handle on the type of preparation that the current and future professionals in anti-violence work have in providing the best care to survivors. It is my greatest pleasure to be able to support survivors through supporting the ones that are helping them directly.         

If given a chance, who or what would you like to be for a day?                      

I would like to be a house cat. It’s truly the best life. Preferably one of the house cats whose YouTube owner vlogs them lounging around sleeping like a big fuzzy donut.            

Who is the most influential person in your life?

A mentor from my previous workplace, who inspired me to be myself by showing me that it is possible to be a successful, professional, proudly out queer woman of color. She encouraged my professional growth and encouraged me to go the distance.

Leo Vera, Supervising Attorney                                                                      

Leo, no stranger to some to some, joined FCASV in September of 2019. Before this, he served in numerous roles while studying law in Cuba. He has worked as an intern, professor of law, and researcher just to name a few. Leo is knowledgeable in Constitutional Law, International Private Law, and Gender--all of which he taught during his tenure as a law professor. He is also a Florida State alumni, where he obtained his Juris Doctor degree. The Legal Assistance to Victims of Sexual Assault Program that Leo supervises provides legal representation for victims of sexual assault.

What is your current role at FCASV, and what has been the most exciting part?

I am the supervising attorney for the Legal Assistance to Victims (LAV) program. The most exciting part is being a member of the FCASV team, helping my clients to move forward after bad experiences, having the ability to protect my clients from further harm, and seeing the results of what we do in the reflection of their lives.

What is your favorite song from the 90s?

Well, I was 10 to 14 years old. I have a bunch, Backstreet Boys, Eiffel 65 (blue), Olga Tanon, Selena. I don’t have a favorite song; I simply like a song when it is something that can be inspiring, powerful, entertaining, or funny(even nonsense lyrics).

How do you define success?

Being who you are, doing what you enjoy while being productive, what's helpful to you and the people and things you care about.

While we welcome new faces, we are bidding adieu to one of our veteran employees Marie Dowling. Marie first joined FCASV in 2003 as a Publications Coordinator and currently serves as a Contract Manager. After 17 years of exceptional work, Marie will be retiring at the end of January. We wish her the best as she enters her years of retirement. Well-deserved!

Glass-clinking kudos are in order for Melissa Ashton, who was recently promoted to FCASV Director of Programs. Melissa joined the Council in 2016 working on the Legal Assistance to Victims Project, as the Statewide Victim Services Manager. We are excited to be alongside Melissa as she transitions into her new role.


Upcoming Events and Trainings

Rural Advocates' Call

February 20, 2020

1:00 P.M. - 2:00 P.M.  GoToWebinar (Video Call)

This call is a space for Florida advocates in direct service to discuss challenges, successes, and connect with their peers. Our next call will be a brainstorming session for Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) 2020. If you haven’t already seen NSVRC’s released SAAM toolkit, the inspiration for the call’s #YestoSAAM title, you may view/ order here.

One Day Advanced SANE Training

March 3, 2020

8:30 A.M. - 4:30 P.M.  Tampa, FL

This training is for nurses who have completed the 40 Hour Adult / Adolescent SANE Training who wish to become more familiar with identification and analysis of case findings. Each realistic clinical case scenario will provide an opportunity for both new and experienced SANEs to build their skills in anatomy identification and documentation. For more information and to register, visit fcasv.org.

Advocate Meeting

March 20, 2020

9:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M.  Cocoa Beach, FL

Topic: Working with and Advocating for the LGBTQ+ Community

This event is open to advocates in non-leadership positions at any of Florida's certified sexual assault programs. Please note that seating is limited. For more information and to register, visit fcasv.org.

40 Hour Adult Adolescent SANE Training

May 18-22, 2020

8:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M.   Kissimmee, FL

The 40 hour SANE training is geared toward medical professionals: APRNs, RNs, and physicians and is an approved International Association of Forensic Nurses course which adheres to the National Training Standards for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examiners for adults and adolescents. For more information and to register, visit  fcasv.org

Save the Date: Pre-Summit Rural Capacity Building Training

May 19, 2020

9:00 A.M. - 4:30 P.M.   Orlando, FL 

Morning session: Occupational Identity

Afternoon session: Restorative Justice


Advocates are encouraged to visit our page to monitor for future events and trainings.

This project was supported by subgrant No. COHK4 awarded by the state administering office for the STOP Formula Grant Program. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the state or the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.