Therapy Helps Heal Survivors of Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Therapy Helps Heal Survivors of Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking is a public health issue that impacts more than 27 million people worldwide and according to Covenant Rescue Group  Atlanta has the second highest rate of Human Trafficking in the United States.  Every January, we observe National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. CHRIS 180 works to provide those who are most vulnerable to human trafficking and other forms of violence a glimpse of hope and relief through the services we offer as a leader in behavioral health and child welfare services. 

CHRIS 180 works in partnership with Tapestri, an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization that advocates for immigrants and refugees impacted by human trafficking, domestic violence, sexual assault and exploitation. We provide therapy services at our CHRIS Counseling Center– Dekalb office to clients, which includes people of all ages and genders, who have been displaced in their home countries and are currently seeking asylum. Through our partnership we work to help clients heal and provide the tools they need to advocate for themselves through trauma-informed care.  

“Men and women who have suffered domestic violence or are victims of human trafficking often experience complex emotional and psychological issues.  And when these survivors are immigrants and English is a second or third language – if they speak it at all – their trauma is easily trapped inside their bodies and healing is more complicated.  Therapists at CHRIS 180 work carefully with these immigrants to help them find healing and hope in extraordinarily difficult situations” said Carol Pitts, PhD, LPC, LMFT, CPCS, Clinical Director of CHRIS Counseling Center- Dekalb. 

Risk Factors of Human Trafficking  

Political instability and other risk factors including mental health issues, involvement in the child welfare system, recent migration and relocation, poverty and gender inequality play a major role in the likelihood of someone becoming a victim of human trafficking.   

According to Humans Rights First “Traffickers frequently use hidden and excessive fees to force victims into debt, and use threats of adverse immigration consequences to further ensure victims’ continued service. Regardless of their educational attainments or socioeconomic status in their home countries, victims are vulnerable when they do not understand their rights under U.S. law and are afraid of law enforcement.”  

Aruna Shrestha, MPH, is a Domestic Violence Advocate for Tapestri and believes knowing your rights is one of the most important parts of advocating for yourself. Shrestha works with clients who are both survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. She believes she is a voice for those who may not be able to speak for themselves due to language barriers, and her goal is to help them get the support they need. 

 “Seeing them getting adjusted and being able to see where they were before and where they are now really makes me work harder in this field. I think about the clients and how I can help them change their lives. They are a blessing.”  

CHRIS 180 Offers Support to Survivors 

Studies show that victims who experience human trafficking and other forms of violence may exhibit signs of anxiety, memory loss and may even develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  CHRIS Counseling Center- DeKalb works with those in need of support and offers individual therapy and bilingual services to survivors of human trafficking. It can be challenging for clients who have recently entered the country and may have difficulties finding therapists and resources available to them in their native language. CHRIS 180 has therapists who speak a variety of languages so that therapy is readily available to a diverse group of individuals. Tapestri also offers support groups in different languages with community leaders.  

Ways You Can Help 

  • Volunteer and support anti-trafficking and anti-domestic violence causes in your community 
  • Use social media platforms to raise awareness about human trafficking and domestic violence 
  • Incorporate trauma-informed practices in your workplace 
  • Learn to recognize the signs of human trafficking and domestic violence abuse   

If you suspect human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll free at 1(888) 373-7888. To report suspected human trafficking in Georgia, call the Statewide 24-Hour Human Trafficking Hotline at 1(866) 363-4842. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800) 799-7233 or text start to 88788. 


Briyanna Ferguson is the Marketing & Communications Coordinator at CHRIS 180. She can be reached at [email protected] 

Briyanna Ferguson
[email protected]
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