SAFE awarded grant to fund legal services for survivors of sex trafficking

SAFE Alliance pro bono legal grant

The SAFE Alliance (SAFE), an Austin nonprofit organization serving survivors of child abuse, sexual assault and exploitation, and domestic violence, received a $7,500 grant from The Texas Bar Foundation to provide pro bono legal services to child and adult survivors of sex trafficking.

Awarded in the Fall of 2017, the grant from the Texas Bar Foundation will provide critical funding to support SAFE Legal Services’ efforts to provide pro bono legal services to child and adult survivors of sex trafficking. The SAFE Alliance has partnered with the Office of the Texas Governor’s Criminal Justice Division (CJD), LifeWorks, and Allies Against Slavery to design and develop three new programs that will address the complex needs of survivors of sex trafficking and commercial and sexual exploitation: SAFE CARES (collaboration, advocacy, response, and engagement of survivors). SAFE CARES includes an advocacy program, a community drop-in center, and a specialized foster care program for survivors of this extremely vulnerable and oftentimes invisible population.

According to a 2016 study by The Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at UT-Austin, “Human Trafficking by the Numbers: The Initial Benchmark of Prevalence and Economic Impact for Texas,” there are approximately 79,000 minors and youth victims of sex trafficking in Texas.

Although victims come from a wide-range of socioeconomic backgrounds, many victims have a history of physical, sexual, or psychological abuse, come from families affected by poverty, are runaways, or are in the child welfare system. As a whole, youth who are under the age of 17 and lack a safe place to go are the most vulnerable to the coercion, manipulation, and violence that traffickers use to exploit their vulnerability.

SAFE CARES aims to create opportunities for these youth to be – and feel – safe and connected to each other, an agency, and a trusted ally. Thanks to The Texas Bar Foundation’s generous support, trafficking survivors will have access to high-quality legal services that are crucial to protecting their privacy and safety. SAFE Legal Services is accessible to anyone who identifies as a survivor of violence, regardless of income, immigration status, or other common obstacles. SAFE’s goal is to assist survivors by providing direct legal representation, pro se assistance, legal advice, and referrals for their various legal needs.

Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $18 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation’s largest charitably-funded bar foundation.

For more information about SAFE’s services for youth and adult survivors of child abuse, sexual assault and exploitation, and domestic violence, please call SAFE’s 24/7 Hotline: 512.267.7233(SAFE) or visit www.safeaustin.org to get help via chat. For Deaf people of all identities, please use relay/VRS.

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