Ariana Menjivar, an Anti-Trafficking Caseworker at the IRC in Silver Spring speaks about advocating for survivors of human trafficking.
“Ever since I was young, I knew that I wanted to dedicate my life to bringing justice and peace to victims of crime. I learned about human trafficking as a college student and as an intern with the IRC’s Anti-Trafficking program.
I learned how significantly immigrants are impacted by this crime, with an overwhelming majority of trafficking victims in the U.S. being immigrants. They are particularly vulnerable to traffickers who promise them jobs and a better life, but then force them to perform unpaid sexual acts or strenuous labor without pay. As a child of immigrants, this upsetting truth motivated me to do more for the immigrant community, to protect them from being victimized by this crime in the future.
The Anti-Trafficking program at the IRC connects survivors with resources, including food and housing, language classes, legal representation, mental health counseling and financial assistance. This comprehensive approach to services is important as survivors of human trafficking typically experience high levels of duress, trauma and isolation and need additional supportive services.
The most challenging part of my position is accepting that I may not always be able to assist clients with achieving every one of their goals. In the end, my job is to empower my clients, to remind them that they are survivors who have won their battle against human trafficking. “