Readings in Diversity Book Club – May 2022: Stolen

Hello Readers!

Welcome back! We hope that you have enjoyed reading along with us thus far. For the month of May, we have chosen to read Stolen: A True Story of a Human Trafficking Survivor by Katriina Rosenblatt.

In this novel Katriina Rosenblatt shares her experiences of homelessness and of surviving sex trafficking.  Often times survivors of sex trafficking also experience instances of homelessness and often times those who are experiencing homelessness find that surviving sex trafficking presents unique barriers and challenges for obtaining housing in the future. This story is no exception. The protagonist of this memoir was first recruited into sex trafficking while her family was staying in a hotel in Miami Beach. Each year an estimated 80,000 American children are recruited into sex trafficking. In Virginia 566 individuals were trafficked this past year. Within our region at least 55 survivors were identified in the past year. These numbers are not shrinking and resources for survivors in our area are currently limited at best. The COC has partnered with the Fredericksburg Human Trafficking Taskforce to create a housing subcommittee. This subcommittee is essentially a focus group to help open a discussion about what we as a community can do to strengthen resources within our region to make housing accessible and functional for survivors of human Trafficking.

The Fredericksburg COC often uses focus groups to ensure that individuals most at risk receive extra support in order to avoid many falling through cracks within our housing system. Additionally, the COC uses focus groups to identify areas where our housing system is weak and lacking the supportive services needed by particular groups of individuals. We use these groups to learn about the lived experiences of those who we are trying to serve, to collaborate with stakeholders and service providers within our region on behalf of those with lived experiences, and to work towards functional solutions to provide the best supportive services to those in need. It is our goal to utilize focus groups in a way that strengthens our overall community and allows our housing system to become accessible and functional for all who are in need within the Fredericksburg region.

Some of these focus groups include our lived experience committee, Veterans Committee, and our Housing Subcommittee for the Human Trafficking Taskforce. This month the COC would like to focus on some of the work that we are doing to support the Human Trafficking Taskforce within the Fredericksburg Region. This taskforce includes individuals and organizations dedicated to providing supportive services to those experiencing human trafficking within our region. It is our goal to take this month to open conversations about Human Trafficking within our region and what we can do to help survivors. We want to discuss the unique challenges that survivors are facing as well as discuss how we can help survivors into housing and ultimately to safety.

We hope that our chosen book this month will help to open conversations about homelessness and human trafficking. It is our goal to provide education, share stories of lived experiences, and open conversations to ultimately create a community supportive of survivors. We invite you to take part in this important discussion.

Happy reading!

– Reba