LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Rape Crisis Center launched its Resources and Integration for Survivor Empowerment or RISE program in January and says it has assisted 72 human trafficking victims through the first six months of 2020.
The RISE program, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, provides crisis response and long-term case management services to victims of all forms of human trafficking through 24/7 services provided by dedicated staff and volunteers along with a network of partner organizations.
Las Vegas has been identified by the U.S. Department of Justice risk analysis study as one of 17 cities nationwide most likely to be the top destinations for trafficking victims.
Of the 72 victims served by the RCC, 58 were sex trafficking victims and 33 were labor trafficking victims, with some clients experiencing both forms of exploitation. The ages of the victims ranged between 13 and 71, and the average age was 27 years old. The vast majority of the victims identify as female (93%).
The data also revealed that the majority of the human trafficking victims served by RCC had witnessed and/or experienced violence from an early age:
-60% reported being sexually abused before age 18
-47% reported being raped before age 18
-40% reported being raped after age 18
-47% witnessed domestic violence between their parents
-74% reported being in a relationship where they have been hit, kicked or physically abused by a partner or spouse with the median age of this abuse occurring at 17 years old
-In terms of ethnicity: the majority (33%) were African American; 28% Caucasian; 25% Hispanic; 4.7% Asian/Pacific Islander.
“The RISE data lay bare the intersectionality of interpersonal violence such as childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence, which are rooted in cultural norms that perpetuate gender-based violence, and the greater vulnerability of women and girls of color,” said Daniele Staple, executive director of The Rape Crisis Center. “This is the reason we felt the addition of RISE was such an important component for our organization. Exploitation is the next step on the continuum of violence that we work so hard to prevent. We strive to educate the community to prevent interpersonal violence, and when that is not possible, to impart services at the earliest opportunity to help people heal and keep them from experiencing additional trauma, violence, and victimization throughout their lives.”
In another significant change in services in the first six months of 2020, the RCC realized a dramatic increase in demand for and client engagement with the organization’s counseling services. The RCC delivered 60% more counseling hours in January through June 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. In addition, the average number of counseling clients increased by 6.4% year-over-year in the same six-month period.
According to Staple, the RCC was able to pivot quickly at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to add telehealth services, and this, combined with reduced barriers to access counseling and the added stressors of the pandemic contributed to the increase in demand and delivery of counseling services.