United to Serve Survivors of Human Trafficking

June 8, 2020

by Deborah Pembrook, Human Trafficking Outreach Manager

Survivors of human trafficking deserve safety, support and the opportunity to thrive in our community. Those who advocate for survivors of human trafficking in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties are committed to work together to make our community a place where survivors can feel rooted, accepted and valued. 

On May 29, all four direct service providers who serve survivors of human trafficking in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties shared with other Bay Area anti-trafficking activists about our network of support. This was at a quarterly meeting of No Traffick Ahead, a gathering of anti-trafficking organizations focused on ending trafficking in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

With representatives from Monarch Services and Walnut Avenue Women’s Center in Santa Cruz and Monterey County Rape Crisis Center and YWCA Monterey County in Monterey County, we shared about the strengths and challenges we face.

A strength of all the direct service organizations in our regions is our adaptability. Each of these anti-trafficking organizations has a long history of serving survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence or both. Each has taken the trauma informed services we are already providing and, through hiring experienced professionals and through education, we have adapted our services to serve survivors of all forms of human trafficking. 

We also shared about our resiliency. Especially during the current pandemic, each organization was able to pivot services to meet the needs of our community in crisis. Following the best public health guidelines to ensure the safety of everyone we serve, it was necessary to equally prioritize the health and safety of our staff and volunteers. 

And finally, we shared that one of our strengths is our collaboration. Because we all have a fierce dedication to survivors, we share the value of learning and listening to those with lived experience of trafficking. These shared values enable us to come together and form strong partnerships. Each organization regularly joins with our other community partners through the Coalition to End Human Trafficking in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. 

Our area also faces challenges. This includes our geography, as our two counties are larger than the state of Delaware. We have also faced challenges as individuals with our organizations have come and gone, leaving room for new champions to come in. And we have faced the challenges and opportunities of creating high quality services while facing limited resources. 

Despite the strengths and challenges, we are a stronger community and we are better able to serve survivors of human trafficking because of each of our direct service organizations. Together, we strive to make our community a safer place where survivors know they belong.

Thank you to No Traffick Ahead for inviting us to present about direct service providers in Monterey County. No Traffick Ahead is a collaboration of anti-trafficking organization from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Also, thank you to all each of the participants in this presentation. Thank you Leeann Luna with Monarch Service, Ana Vasquez with Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Services, and both Christine Duncan and Lena Bustamantez with YWCA Monterey County.