Presentation Minutes

Sex Trafficking Response

  • Ché (also goes by Rachael) Smith, The Sexual Assault Center of Pierce County -
  • Program History
    • Was the “Yes to Hope!” program – City of Tacoma funded.  Now rebranded to Sex Trafficking Response and Awareness Program, Tacoma, WA (STRAPWA)
    • Started in July of 2015 – served 23 clients that year with advocacy and case management.  In 2016 the program served 48 clients.
    • August 2016 – started to do more outreach and education – got an overwhelming amount of new clients.  
    • In 2017  the program served 79 clients – all with a single case manager.  60% of the clients were homeless or frequently on the run. 
  • Statistics
    • National Centers say that of the 1/7 runaway children will be sex trafficked.  A study has shown that within 48 hours of leaving home, 1 in 3 children would be approached by a sex trafficker.  Replicating that study in Seattle, it was every single time. (I’m a big fan of data, but this is pretty troubling –ed.) 
    • It is almost a given that homeless youth will have been approached by a sex trafficker,
    • These statistics don’t take into account survival sex.  Youth need food and shelter, and often exchange sex for necessities. 
  • The program provides wrap around services, including jobs, housing, education, therapy (the sexual assault clinical therapist is trained in how to deal with sex trafficking).  There is also a Community Therapist for meeting clients not in the office, but in the community.  This Community Therapist can take a phone call from a client in crisis and can “meet a Sherri’s) for some food and talk.  They also do “Walk Talk Therapy” where the client and therapist take a walk, which can create a better opportunity for openness . 
  • Ché moved from primary victim case manager and advocate to being the family and friend support advocate – provide support for families around housing, education and support.
  • This year’s national sex trafficking conference in Tacoma – coming up next month.  3 day conference. – May 22nd through the 24th.  Providers – law enforcement, judiciary, doctors, social workers, advocates – great line up of speakers (including a friend of mine, so it must be great… -ed).  Registration is pricey (around $300 –ed.), but if you can sign up with a group of 5, registration is only $150 for 3 days (with food).  Agencies can get a table too.  Full into at   
  • Have “Lets Face it walk” sexual assault and sexual violence walk (was walk a mile in her shoes).  Find out how to support that, contact Ché. (or hit the website at -ed.) 
  • Brian – when we visit sex trafficking camp – do you have a flyer we can leave if they won’t talk to us.  Ché– we have pamphlets and cards they can get from Ché. 
  • Drop in Center – Monday through Thursday, 8:30am-5pm and Friday by appointment (call 253-592-5728) .  The drop in Center is a place where clients can be safe, relax, watch videos, coloring books, have computer access to education an employment resources.  There are also harm reduction supplies, like male condoms, flavored and unflavored (I’m not sure why this specific detail was included, but I’m going to assume it was important –ed), dental dams, lubricants, and needle exchange is also available.  The drop in center is located at 101 E 26th street, suite 100, Tacoma, WA.  It is by by Almond Roca.
  • Question – Is there a mobile clinic service – CHÉ- still in the works.  The program also has new Memorandum of Understanding with the RAIN (Rise Above the Influence) gang reduction program.  A RISE staff member will be co-located at drop in center.  They do have a small grant to do a free mobile health clinic for homeless youth and sex trafficked individuals.  Will let folks know if that comes about.  (I don’t like the ”if” it that sentence.  the Connector in me wants to get everyone who can make this happen in a room and not let them out until it is a reality. If you haven’t read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point - - he talks about Connectors, Mavens and salespeople – an interesting way to look at how a few key people can make big things happen.  Like most of Gladwell’s books, it is recommended reading – ed.)    
  • Provide Legal resources – clients often have criminal records associated with there time being trafficked.
  • Most clients have significant PTSD – coping mechanisms are often not very healthy.
  • Dru – comment – it is a really good program that a friend went through – now she is clean and has gotten custody of her daughter back and is doing great.  (applause).  Ché– philosophy is that people need someone to believe in them, someone to empower them to be deciders of their own future (Ché said more about this, and even though this was my favorite part of the presentation, I didn’t get it all down and beautifully as Ché said it. -ed.)
  • James – for our gang outreach and homeless outreach staff – they do great trauma informed training on sex trafficked youth.  For instance, they taught us that just suggesting to a client that they fill out a police report can be a traumatic experience for the client.  They are a great resources and a good community partner. Collaboration is deep commitment by involved agencies– we are each in each others centers, not just referring folks to different programs.  Partner agencies can really help our clients be successful.
View minutes from the entire meeting