NORTHERN VIRGINIA (WDVM) — From crisis response to case management, the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Initiative provides victims with services they need to reintegrate into society.
“The first thing we do is make sure that they’re in a safe place and then the night that they’re referred to us that they have a safe place to sleep,” said Kay Duffield Nova-HTI Executive Director.
The Nova-HTI has been a non-profit for five years and serves victims from the edge of D.C. to Fauquier County.
“They’re coming to you with every kind of need that you and I might have already figured out as we progress through adulthood. So housing, a car or transportation, food, clothes,” said Bella Ibrahim, Nova-HTI Director of Survivor Services.
Victims start with the intake process. Once their needs are addressed, they establish a set of goals. Clients who meet those goals are welcome to continue their services for as long as they need.
“It’s important to us that we have a nice comfortable space that feels like a home. We want them to feel valued, we want them to feel important, we want them to feel like their voice is worthy to be heard,” said Duffield.
The organization also receives a lot of support from their nearly 70 volunteers.
“They’re working with clients that have been out of the life for a while and they’re just learning how to be community. In a healthy community again,” said Maria Buczek, Nova-HTI Director of Development, “So they’re not providing counseling for them, they’re going to movies with them, they’re teaching them maybe a craft.”
Nova-HTI has also helped expand their reach beyond Northern Virginia.
“We had law enforcement out in the Shenandoah Valley area that asked us if we could provide mentors and services out that in that area and it was just too far for our case manager to be able to provide the services that are really needed,” said Duffield.
The Valley Human Trafficking Initiative is a virtual group that supports the human trafficking task force run by the FBI and several other law enforcement agencies. They help victims get back on their feet and assist them through the prosecution phase.
“The problem in the valley is a bit different in that it is, first of all, it is very tied to the drug trade up and down 81 from Hagerstown all the way down to Harrisonburg,” said Ken Blackwell, Valley Human Trafficking Initiative Director.
While both initiatives experience their differences, they share one main concern.
“One of the biggest gaps in services that we have always dealt with is the housing piece. So the one thing that we’re working on is to actually open a housing program,” said Duffield.
Both initiatives say educating the public about human trafficking may help prevent some people from becoming victims.