Working with IJM’s teams around the world, Aftercare Specialist Lisa Slavovskly provides essential support to the field offices combatting child sex trafficking. Addressing difficult casework challenges and developing aftercare programs, she works to ensure that children are enabled to heal, grow and live lives free from violence. Lisa shares, “I want to ensure that global aftercare teams feel fully equipped through training and resources to carry out the complex work of empowering survivors toward restoration.”
Meet Lisa in the following video and hear what inspired her to become an Aftercare Specialist.
Q: When walking alongside survivors and working to empower them, what has impacted you?
A: I have been deeply impacted by the resiliency in survivors. As individuals heal, they have such wisdom to share not only about the impact of the traumatic experiences they endured, but also the way in which the justice system and aftercare programs can more effectively engage and help other victims toward restoration. When survivors are in a place of safety and healing, they want others to experience the same protections and restoration, and they have the best wisdom to offer in how that is made possible.
Q: What are some key challenges of finding aftercare for survivors?
A: When hearing about the need for aftercare services for survivors of human trafficking, many people immediately think of the need for safe shelters or residential facilities that can provide protective placement and care for survivors. While this is a critical need, it is only the first step in walking with survivors toward restoration. The vulnerabilities that can make an individual at risk for trafficking often still exist at the time of rescue. Whether these vulnerabilities are legal status issues, high levels of family dysfunction, complex trauma, lack of community supports or desperate economic circumstances, these issues must be addressed for a survivor to safely return to his or her family and community. Because these issues are so complex, the best care is provided within a network of service providers who can help a survivor to become economically empowered, to recover from trauma, and to rebuild community supports toward long-term safety. That’s what truly makes the difference in empowering survivors toward lasting restoration.
To be able to really engage deeply in this work is being able to say, ‘I want to see; I want to understand this through the eyes of someone else whose experience is different than my own.’
Q: In what ways do you balance the emotional heaviness that accompanies the role of being an aftercare specialist?
A: Working with child trauma survivors for my entire career has exposed me to a lot of devastation. Thus, personal impact (and the risk of secondary trauma) is a reality for me. A few key things have helped me in this journey: 1) having the space within the organization to talk through the heartbreaking realities of the work as a way to give voice to the complexities; 2) recognizing and celebrating both the large and small successes, whether in seeing a survivor claim his or her own story or seeing shifts in the systems designed to protect communities from abuse; 3) being reminded that I am simply a person—that I am not called upon to “fix” others’ problems or solve complexities on my own, but rather to walk alongside others and do only what I am called to do for today, knowing that I am one of many who are together making change possible.
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International Justice Mission is the world’s largest international anti-slavery organization, working to end modern-day slavery, human trafficking and other forms of violence against the poor by rescuing and restoring victims, restraining perpetrators, and transforming broken public justice systems. Learn more at www.ijm.org.