The Barcliff Group (TBG) is a private, for-profit health care quality consulting firm that challenges itself to be involved in the quality of health care beyond the board room. TBG’s blogs cover various topics in health care quality, equity, and wellness by collaborating with professionals in the industry to edify the community at large. For the November 2018 blog, we are focusing on appropriate quality care for victims of sex exploitation & trafficking as well as how City of Refuge has taken a stance to rescue, restore, and aid in the transformation of the women’s lives.
House of Cherith: Quality Care & Healing for Sex Trafficked Victims
Q: Tell us about yourself and your role as Director of Anti-Trafficking Efforts at City of Refuge?
A: I have been involved with the City of Refuge since its inception, as I am daughter number two of COR Founder/CEO, Bruce Deel. I have been the Director of House of Cherith for nearly five years. I have obtained various qualifications to enhance my role as Director, including a Masters of Science in Organizational Leadership and a specialization in Nonprofit Management, Mental Health First Aid Certification, CPR and First Aid Certifications, Vicarious Trauma Certification, Suicide Intervention Certification, First Aid Certification and more. I was raised in the City of Refuge ministry and I have a sincere heart for helping others and for social justice for those that have fallen captive to the horrible plague of human trafficking. Fighting trafficking and helping ladies move from a victim’s mindset to a victor’s mentality is one of my greatest passions.
Q: To paint a picture for our audience, how widespread is the issue of sex & human trafficking?
A: The social injustice termed sexual and human trafficking is a global issue. This horror is not just found in third world countries or in the red light districts – it is domestic, it is in our states and cities, it is in our businesses and churches. The issue of trafficking does not discriminate based on gender, age, race or socioeconomic status. Trafficking preys on people of all backgrounds, education levels and financial standings. This issue represents between 27-32 million human beings that are being trafficked for sex or labor on a daily basis.
Q: Explain a day in the life of a woman on her journey to healing & recovery from sexual exploitation at City of Refuge.
A: At City of Refuge, our anti-trafficking program is called House of Cherith (HOC). HOC consists of three residential recovery homes in which all ladies have access to free, 24/7, holistic and wrap-around services to aid in their recovery, sobriety and journey to self-sufficiency. Our services are all inclusive and the goal is for our program to enhance one’s recovery on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level.
Our daily programming includes the following:
-Case Management (individualized case plan designed to overcome barriers to success while setting and reaching goals towards self-sufficiency)
-Cognitive Behavior Therapy (“CBT” – trigger identification, coping mechanisms, anger management, relapse prevention, emotional stability, individual and group sessions, etc.)
-Health and Wellness (nutrition, physical exercise, self care, positive thinking, self awareness, self esteem, self motivation, physical therapy, therapeutic yoga, etc.)
-Life Skills (financial literacy, hygiene, budgeting, household management, etc.)
-Pastoral Care and Counseling (optional, individual or group options)
-Peer Support Recovery (“PSR” – healthy boundaries, effective communication, time management, conflict resolution, mood management, goal setting, etc.)
-Professional Development (employability, mock interviews, resume building, etc.)
-Substance Abuse Counseling and Recovery (individual and group options)
-Substance Abuse Meetings and Groups (AA, NA, SA, Celebrate Recovery, Al-Anon, etc.)
-Variety of Therapy Options (art, music, nature, etc.)
Q: How do you and staff at City of Refuge cope with assisting high-level trauma victims day after day? What methods do you utilize to recuperate to stay mentally and emotionally “in the game” of helping these women?
A: We can often be overheard saying “teamwork makes the dream work” and this statement could not be more true or more applicable for the House of Cherith team. As the Director, I do my best to hire team members with different qualities, skills and strengths. This way, we fill in the gaps for each other and we are all serving in our areas of specialization so that one team member is never taxed to heavily. We focus on a team mentality – all giving 100% so no one has to over compensate, holding one another accountable, encouraging each other regularly, supporting each other through challenging situations, etc. Trust amongst the team is the first step.
City of Refuge also offers a bi-annual “Self Care and Burnout Prevention” training. All House of Cherith team members are asked to attend at least one of these sessions per year. These trainings help us identify our level of burnout in order to be proactive versus reactive. These also assist us in pinpointing our preferred methods of self-care so that we can implement these regularly and avoid breakdowns.
City of Refuge will also assist with financial support for those that would like to pursue outside counseling, additional trainings or seminars to enhance their education, furthering their education by pursing a higher degree level, etc. This is very helpful to know, as this allows employees to feel supported, valued and a part of the COR family. This also helps encourage team members to enhance their professional toolbox by providing funding for the tools.
We also have a positive PTO policy in which employees have sick days, personal days and vacation days included in their full time employment package. This eliminates stress around employees needing a day or two for R&R throughout the year. City of Refuge also has a top-notch workout facility that is free for all employees. This provides a physical outlet for those pursuing a healthy lifestyle.
City of Refuge does regular staff lunches, events, outings and more in which the team is able to spend time together and enhance team morale while providing a break from the regular, daily routines.
Q: Trust is easier said than built. How does City of Refuge build the trust with the women and children after it’s been broken by their abusers, family members, friends, and even within themselves?
A: For House of Cherith ladies, trust does not come easily. This is something that must be given to them and shown to them before being earned by them. Our approach to cultivating an environment of trust is simplified in the concept of “just doing life WITH our ladies”. By supporting our ladies regardless of their actions, attitudes, words, etc., we are proving that we are there for them. By helping them reach their small and large goals, we are showing them that they are important to us. By providing them with tangible resources (clothing, food, housing, etc.), we are portraying generosity and enhancing the family atmosphere.
By joining the ladies in their journey to recovery, you are committing to be there for them through the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the positive, the negative, and everything in between. You are simply letting them know that they have a friend, they have a support system and they have people that are willing to fight for them. Our ladies just need to see love in action, to feel positivity through our attitudes, to experience trust firsthand by watching it blossom around them daily.
Q: Undoubtedly, the women and children have suffered a great deal of trauma. Describe some of their short-term and long-term emotional, behavioral, and medical needs?
A: The first approach to recovery that we take at House of Cherith is to meet each resident where they are. We try hard to develop individualized plans and resources that address the needs and goals of each specific client. There is no “one size fits all” approach to this line of work and there are no two cases that are identical. Meeting needs starts with identifying the needs.
Many of our clients will need to be stabilized on their mental health medications prior to being able to start work on their case plan. Most are coming to us without updated medical diagnoses, without the correct prescriptions, with low supplies of medication, etc. This makes it challenging to address topics like “anger management” when one is not mentally stable and has bipolar episodes, for example. Access to proper medical and mental health treatment is crucial in their stability and recovery.
Other needs include additional services for cognitive behavior therapy, enhanced individual and group therapeutic and processing sessions, peer support recovery, substance abuse counseling, and smoking cessation classes/resources.
Q: City of Refuge has an on-site medical clinic, Mercy Care. How are the clinicians and front-line caregivers equipped to manage and care for the sex trauma victim?
A: We employ Clinicians that not only have experience working with this unique population, but that also have a passion and desire to see these women move from a victim’s mentality to a victor’s mindset. Our team is certified in a variety of field focuses that aid in their ability to better serve our population. Some of those areas of field focus include trauma informed care, crisis management, vicarious trauma training, sexual abuse, victim recovery, victim advocacy, suicidal ideation, women’s issues, codependency, and so much more.
As 97% of House of Cherith participants have expressed use or addition to substances in their past or present situations, our clinicians and therapists are also trained in drug and alcohol awareness, relapse prevention, trigger identification. Some are even certified substance abuse counselors.
Many House of Cherith residents suffer from mental health challenges as well. This is a huge barrier to overcome when moving from a place of dependence or victimization to a place of self-sufficiency. Our clinicians have experience, education or certifications in a variety of mental health fields including, but not limited to, the following: anxiety, bipolar, PTSD, borderline personality, mood disorders, eating disorders, depression, and more.
Q: Is there anything else you would like the community to know as an advocate to the women of House of Cherith and sexually exploited women world-wide?
A: Trafficking is all around us. Do a little extra research for your specific state, city and county – Google is full of information! Find the need in your area and get involved. This can be through prayer, financial support, volunteering, donations, etc. There are victims and survivors all around us – begin cultivating an atmosphere of trust, relationship and rapport so that when someone is ready to make the decision for a new start, they know who to come to.
Educate yourself. There are countless opportunities to enhance one’s knowledge of this subject in order to be better equipped to raise awareness, help a victim or support a survivor. The Internet is full of options for trainings, seminars, webinars, certifications, etc. that will be beneficial to serving or advocating on behalf of this population.
Q: Tell us how we can help support the House of Cherith’s initiatives at the City of Refuge.
A: As a nonprofit organization, financial support is one of the greatest needs and is always appreciated. We also welcome donation drives on behalf of our homes and residents. There are also plenty of volunteer opportunities available in which individuals can give their time in support of the ladies’ recovery. There are various opportunities to volunteer available so that the experience is beneficial for both residents and volunteers.
Additionally, raising awareness and education around this issue is crucial to helping find an end to slavery and trafficking. Individuals, business or groups can host our team for awareness and prevention trainings, to share what we do, to explain opportunities for others to join this fight, etc. Word of mouth is a huge asset in letting victims know there are resources available for them and helping our communities feel better equipped to get involved.
Thank you for your time and sharing with us, Kelsi!