Collaborating to create access to freedom

We are often asked how a trafficking survivor is identified and how they find Gray Haven. 

Someone who is experiencing exploitation, whether for labor or sex trafficking, may not know they are victims of a crime. A trafficker may perpetuate ideas that they chose this lifestyle or that no one will care about them. Repeated lies about the risk of being arrested are also used to ensure someone sees their plight as the only acceptable reality. Deception is key here. Trafficking victims rarely know that human trafficking is a global issue that communities and governments are prioritizing as a major human rights issue, so it makes sense they wouldn’t identify themselves as a victim. While we don’t want someone to live with a victim mindset, but a mindset that they are valuable and strong, it is important for each person to realize what was done to them was wrong and not their fault--a mountain each survivor must overcome in their own way with strong support from a qualified organization and other healthy relationships. 

Someone who is being trafficked for sex is often controlled by someone and that person can take on a role very similar to that of a romantic relationship. Because of this reality the person being victimized may interpret their experience to be domestic violence. They may perceive this person as an intimate partner who is abusing them. 

This is why it’s so important for us in the anti-trafficking field to strengthen our relationships with anti-domestic and sexual violence programs to increase identification of someone caught in a trafficking situation. 

Many states have domestic and sexual hotlines where someone can receive support in a safe way--hopefully able to leave a dangerous and harmful situation of violence. Hotlines like the one managed by the the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance are distributed are available in communities across Virginia leading to increased possibilities a trafficking survivor may call seeking help. 

This is why we have teamed up with the VSDVAA to introduce protocols to screen for trafficking indicators and work with Gray Haven to remove the barriers that prevent identification. 

With this partnership we will be able to give trafficking survivors a direct line of access to freedom. 

Here at Gray Haven we have a vision to disrupt the flow of human trafficking and slavery so that no one is enslaved and every survivor is free. A key element of ending slavery is collaborating with any and everyone who has a touchpoint with trafficking survivors. 


Save The Date for The Amazing Raise


Help us make freedom a reality for victims of human trafficking in Virginia by donating to Virginia’s first safe house during the annual Amazing Raise!  

Hosted by the Community Foundation, the Amazing Raise is a two-day online giving event designed to elevate and celebrate the work of local nonprofits.  Our goal during this 36 hour event is to reach achieve our safe house campaign goal of $50,000, which will provide two years of safe housing to slavery victims in our community. We have already raised $13,000.

Not only will your gift help us reach our goal, but it may qualify us to win additional grant prizes. Gifts of any size can make a HUGE difference!  $25 will provide one night of safe housing for a survivor, $158 will provide one week of housing, and $680 provides an entire month of housing for a human trafficking survivor!

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay in the loop as The Amazing Raise draws near. 

To learn more about the Amazing Raise, please visit Thank you so much for all of your continued support as we work together in ending human trafficking in our community.


Slurpees & Chik-fil-a

Often when we talk about human trafficking and slavery we say a lot about services, safety, hope, future, trauma, training, and a bunch of other stuff.

Rarely when we talk about human trafficking and slavery do we use words like fun, community, cows, slurpees, and chicken.

Today was different. As in make me feel a joy I can’t quite describe different.

My phone dinged. I got a text message. I had just left a meeting with a local pastor who works with the refugee community. We talked about the prevalence of young girls being forced by men to sell sex in order to pay off a debt. They have no way of getting out. If they try then they face certain suffering. Details we don’t need to bring up here.

After the meeting I felt a little heavy. Not because it’s new information. No, it’s the same old information, the same patterns of exploitation happening to innocent vulnerable people. It’s so easy to get frustrated and disconcerted with the reality of human trafficking that you don’t see much to celebrate in the world around you.

I swiped open my home screen, punched in my password, and opened the text from one of the staff at Gray Haven.

It was a picture. There they were, two of our staff and five survivors of slavery, standing in front of Chik-fil-a uniformly dressed in black and white clothes holding cow masks over their faces. They had just eaten their free hard earned meal for cow appreciation day. Oh, and they picked up latex gloves, inflated them, and used them as cow utters.

Free Chik-fil-a was not enough though. It just so happens to be 7/11, a day to get free Slurpees at, you guessed it, 7-11. They did that, too.

These moments remind us we are here to share community with those we serve. To use our time and resources to restore the dignity that was torn from them.

I know there is much work to be done, but today was significant because five survivors of slavery were able to freely enjoy Slurpees and Chik-fil-a.