19th Annual Conference on “Human Trafficking: Interrupting the Pathway to Victimization”

By SONHSNews

19th Annual Conference on “Human Trafficking: Interrupting the Pathway to Victimization”

By SONHSNews
Dr. Rosa Gonzalez-Guarda represented El Centro as an invited panelist at the 19th Annual Conference on “Human Trafficking: Interrupting the Pathway to Victimization”, hosted by The Melissa Institute For Violence Prevention and Treatment on May 1st.
The goal of the conference was to discuss how clinical, community, and legal services can be integrated, providing a continuum of care for victims of human trafficking.

The conference program focused on incidence of human trafficking, as well as on impact, survival skills and resilience among victims. Comprehensive outreach programs and psychotherapy to help the victims of human trafficking were discussed. Dr. Gonzalez-Guarda participated on the clinical-community panel, where she contributed her accumulated knowledge and expertise to the discussion. She also spoke about a current, federally-funded collaborative project between El Centro and Miami Dade County Coordinated Victims Assistance Center (CVAC) to evaluate the impact of specialized services for victims of human trafficking in Miami Dade County.
The Melissa Institute For Violence Prevention and Treatment is a non-profit organization founded in honor of Melissa Aptman, a victim of abduction and homicide. The organization is dedicated to the study and prevention of violence through education, community service, and research support and consultation. The mission of the institute is to prevent violence and promote safer communities through education and application of research-based knowledge.

The United Nations defines human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by improper means (such as force, abduction, fraud, or coercion) for an improper purpose, including forced labor or sexual exploitation. Unfortunately, human trafficking is a very profitable illegal business in the U.S., and Miami-Dade is listed among the top 5 cities for human trafficking. In addition to undergoing the act being trafficked in and of itself, victims may also experience co-occurring poor health outcomes, such as psychiatric disorders, drug addiction, and suicide attempts.

Dr. Gonzalez-Guarda’s participation in this event connects directly to El Centro’s commitment to reduce health disparities in vulnerable populations, given the overlap between the issue of human trafficking and conditions such HIV/STDs, substance abuse, and domestic violence, all major areas of research targeted by El Centro as conditions that disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities.