FCASV Insight January 2021

FCASV Insight January 2021

Game Changer: Preventing Human Trafficking 

The biggest sporting event of the year draws attention to the global sex trafficking crisis. Florida has seen its fair share of the problem. With Super Bowl LV approaching in Tampa Bay, local crisis centers and community organizations are raising awareness on human trafficking education, prevention, and recovery.

Through these partnerships, resources have been created to provide services to those affected. An increase in reports are expected as festivities begin for the Super Bowl in February. Although it can be an exciting time for visitors and fans, it is critical to recognize the dangers and signs of exploitation. Confusion, physical brandings, and anxious behaviors are signs to note during the hustle and bustle of Super Bowl weekend.

In preparation, The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay has compiled a list of organizations and services for victims who may be in need of immediate assistance. Services offered for survivors include finding shelter, substance abuse training, and medical attention. These resources will be available to everyone in the county--providing help at your fingertips.

The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay has also assisted with training local centers' staff on the appropriate response and navigation for human trafficking reports. To add an extra layer of safety for victims, non-governmental agencies will be readily available to assist with addressing the needs of those seeking help.

Be sure to look out for Hillsborough County's "Don't Buy It" digital campaign as we get closer to the big game. It will include prevention and awareness information for supporters to share via text and social media outlets.

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Human Trafficking Awareness Graphics

National Human Trafficking Awareness Month is underway. While human trafficking is a year-long problem, efforts in January amplify ongoing work to build public understanding of the issue, garner support for prevention, and offer resources for survivors. Education and recognizing the realities of trafficking is one of the first steps in addressing it.

Please feel free to visit our website and download these images for your online use during Human Trafficking Awareness Month!

Human trafficking awareness month 3
Human Trafficking Awareness Month
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Stalking Awareness Ribbon

Stalking and Sexual Violence

The month of January serves as National Stalking Awareness Month. Like many other forms of violence, stalking and sexual violence are linked. 7.5 million people are stalked each year, and it's been found that, 31 percent of stalking victims have also been sexually assaulted, while 81 percent have reported instances of physical abuse. Similarly, most victims of stalking are harassed by an acquaintance or someone they know.

The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the terms of safety for victims of stalking and sexual violence. Some survivors are enclosed with abusers, while many are staying at home--making their whereabouts easier to monitor or track down. As we all continue to adapt to a new virtual way of life, technology has aided in facilitating stalking behaviors, giving abusers new approaches to control and create fear.

What is stalking?

Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Unsolicited phone calls, texts, or voice messages, nonconsensual contact, unwanted cards, letters or gifts, and spying or threats are all examples of stalking.

Cyberstalking

With the popularity of social media apps and networks, cyberstalking has affected the mental and emotional health of those subjected. Cyberstalking includes the use of digital, online, or electronic means to harass or frighten an individual.

Behaviors associated with stalking and sexual violence can destroy a survivor's sense of safety. The effects of this can cause severe depression, anxiety, and lack of stability. To learn more about how you can help promote National Stalking Awareness Month, please visit www.nsvrc.org. The Stalking Prevention, Awareness, & Resource Center also provides educational resources and information about stalking awareness month.

If you or someone who you know is a victim of stalking, intimate partner violence or sexual abuse, our direct civil legal service team is here to help. Please reach out to us for assistance.

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Baker Act Article

Sexual Violence and the Baker Act

In December, FCASV presented a webinar on "Sexual Violence and the Baker Act". This presentation was the result of several statewide reports, and feedback from sexual violence advocates who reported survivors experiencing different forms of re-traumatization following involuntary exams, otherwise known as the Baker Act.

The Florida Baker Act was created as a response to the overuse of involuntary long-term placements in mental health facilities. Prior to the Baker Act, many people were sent away after displaying signs of trauma. At that time, trauma wasn’t fully understood, and it wasn’t being identified. With the Baker Act, came a new way of thinking. It allowed for intervention when individuals were about to harm themselves or someone else. Assessments could then be provided and outpatient care with wraparound services offered. The goal was to deinstitutionalize mental health by providing comprehensive care that clients needed. This also kept individuals in their communities and allowed them to maintain their rights.

In late 2019, the Florida Department of Children and Families released a report on involuntary examinations of minors that showed the number of exams on this population has more than doubled in the last 17 years. An issue surrounding this is that some survivors are having their trauma responses misread, leading to unnecessary Baker Acts.

There can be confusion about when to Baker Act a survivor of trauma because trauma can look a lot like mental illness. Particularly actions like self-harm. If service providers are working with a survivor who is cutting, that may be part of their coping process and not necessarily a suicidal ideation.

It’s vital for agencies to adopt policies and invite trainings that will meet survivors where they are at on their journey of unpacking trauma. Failure to create this supportive environment may result in misreading trauma responses. This can lead to survivors repeating trauma, having a lack of control/autonomy over their bodies, experiencing distrust of the system, delaying reporting, and delaying healing.

To help build a supportive environment, the following trainings for advocates and supervisors are recommended: Empowerment-based Advocacy, Motivational Interviewing, Crisis Intervention, De-escalation, Harm Reduction, and Positive Youth Development.

Additionally, it is important for leadership to ensure staff have the best and most up to date tools to support trauma work. This can include looking at Intake/Screening tools to ensure they not only ask about past Baker Acts but also make room for personalized safety planning for clients with a history of involuntary exams. Leadership should review and consider existing policies that address who is called when there is a need for a Baker Act. Most policies rely on law enforcement to transport during a crisis but not all survivors feel safe with this service. Within the organization, trauma informed supervision can also create an environment of support for staff and leadership.

Adopting these philosophies, policies, and trainings will strengthen your agency's capacity to work alongside survivors and reduce re-traumatization of those impacted by sexual violence.

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Upcoming Training

40 Hour Adult/Adolescent SANE Training

2/22/2021 - 2/26/2021
Melbourne, FL

The 40 hour SANE Training is geared toward medical professionals: APRNs, RNs, physician assistants and physicians. It 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 about this training, please visit fcasv.org.

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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.