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Child Sex Trafficking Concerns Us All

Chita Olson is a victim advocate. She works with victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and human trafficking. Her role is to inform, resource, support and empower victims of crime. Twenty-five years ago Chita lost her sister to a murder suicide.

“An experience like that can’t help but impact who you are; the justice seeker in me awoke to the passion of helping those who are bound to another’s power.”

Five years ago Chita entered the field of victim advocacy and learned the reality of human trafficking. Like many people, she had no idea that this was happening so close to her own home. The more she learned, the more she knew she had to be part of the solution to bring freedom and healing to the victims of these heinous crimes. There are a lot of practical ways to help girls move from trauma to triumph, and advocates are adequately trained to serve this population. But that is not the greatest way to help the girls move from trauma to triumph. It takes compassion, patience and love. You believe in them and for them when they can’t imagine a future without pain, shame and fear.

People should be concerned with adolescent sex trafficking because:

  1. It’s happening in our backyards. This isn’t a problem only experienced in third world countries somewhere on the other side of the globe. Victims could be your neighbor, your niece, nephew, son and daughter.

  2. Ignorance is not bliss! Knowledge equals power and the more people are aware, the more we can do as communities to stop the victimization of innocent children.

  3. Sex trafficking permanently changes everyone involved and affects even those not involved.

Traffickers change the culture of the areas they occupy, so if we don’t want our children ending up as victims, we must challenge the hold they threaten to take in our communities.

“Based on data gathered by the U.S. State Department, Arizona is a prime transit and destination area for both sex and labor trafficking in the United States. Sex trafficking is a high-profit, low-risk crime where the commodity, a human body, can be sold repeatedly, unlike drugs or weapons, where the product can only be sold once.” (TRUST:Training and Resources United to Stop Trafficking, Phoenix Police Department VICE Unit, ASU Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research, 2020)

When Chita first heard of StreetLightUSA, she thought “that’s nice, another home for girls”. Then she came for a visit and had personal contact with our staff while supporting a victim during her stay with us. Chita experienced not just another facility for girls, but a safe, beautiful and caring home. She saw how StreetLightUSA truly helps victims of child sex trafficking find the physical, emotional and spiritual support they need.

“I was impressed by the lengths that are taken to assure a nurturing yet structured environment and by the smallest details being attended to. The StreetLightUSA staff is passionate about the service they provide-it’s evident in the way they serve the girls in their care.”

The victim Chita was serving had endured horrific sexual abuse to protect her family and keep it from being torn apart. But she was carrying a heavy weight, and when given an opportunity to get it all off her chest, she bravely disclosed the horror of events that led to the arrest of both her step-father and her mother. It was a tragic day. She lost her home, her friends, her sister, her mom. In her words, it was better to “deal with the abuse” than to lose everything and everyone she loved. Her little sister was placed in a foster home. And she came to StreetLightUSA.

During the young girl’s stay at StreetLightUSA Chita spent time with her, hearing all about the new friends she was making, the schoolwork she was doing, and her hopes and dreams for the future. Chita cheered her on, reminding her of her greatness and that only incredibly strong young women can go through what she went through and still be so kind and considerate of others.

“She’s not a number or a statistic. She’s a beautiful girl that has gifts, talents, and strengths to offer the world around her. I am confident that she will contribute greatly to her community and beyond.”

As of today this courageous young lady has left StreetLightUSA and is doing well. She has a new place to call home with a loving foster family.

In an ideal world, no child would need to find a home at StreetLightUSA. Girls should be in their homes with loving parents, siblings, pets and friends. But when a girl is in need of a safe, caring and stable place to go after a traumatic event in her young life, Chita feels there is no better place for that child to be than StreetLightUSA.

“I am so glad that we have a place like StreetLightUSA for victims to start their healing process.”
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