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The Bigger Picture of Recovery: Working with CSEC Clients 

 

Spring is in the air and Mosaic Georgia is ready! The weather is gradually warming up. COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out to our friends and neighbors. It feels like there’s FINALLY light at the end of the tunnel!  While we’re looking forward to “springing” into this new season, we are also eager to engage in more work with a very important group of youth we serve: CSEC clients. Back in October we had the privilege of joining CACGA (Child Advocacy Centers of Georgia) in providing human trafficking intervention services (1-866-ENDHTGA).  But what happens next? What exactly is involved in working with CSEC clients?

When we welcome CSEC victims, we are receiving referrals directly from CACGA or law enforcement. This means that these youth either have experienced or are at high risk of experiencing trafficking or exploitation. Mosaic Georgia’s CSEC response includes a lot of communication and coordination with the youth’s non-offending parent/caregiver, law enforcement, and other state agencies involved with the youth.

Upon arrival, youth are met by our CSEC response team who create a calm environment and get to know the youth and explain why they are at Mosaic Georgia and the next steps. An assessment process begins to better understand the youth’s life circumstances. Our CSEC assessment  may include gathering history, a forensic interview, a medical exam, and advocacy to determine if the commercial sexual exploitation has occurred.

Mosaic Georgia coordinates a Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) approach for each youth, based on their circumstances to ensure they don’t fall through the cracks. The MDT is comprised of government partners including law enforcement, and may include DFCS, juvenile court, Guardian Ad Litem, and Mosaic Georgia’s specialists in medical, counseling, legal, and advocacy. This collaborative approach improves law enforcement investigations of perpetrators, raises issues that may not otherwise be expressed, and maintains a focus on the best interests of the child/youth. The CSEC Advocate learns of plans in place or forthcoming resources from partners that inform the youth’s action plan.

After assessment and review by the MDT, the youth and their CSEC Advocate collaborate together on a plan of action, to improve their safety, reduce future risk and move forward from trauma. Plans may include basic life essentials, support for the parent/guardian, education supports, probation or juvenile court issues, mental health and life skills counseling. It’s important to remember that commercial sexual exploitation of a child is traumatic for both the client and their family. CSEC Advocates are dedicated to working with the client’s families as well and connecting them with tangible resources to support health and healing.

In 2020, we began working with eight youth who were sexually exploited for commercial purposes. Surviving trafficking is a long journey. There is no time frame to how long we work with CSEC clients.

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Why are Sexual Assaults Under-Reported?

 

Most people will call the police if someone breaks into their home or steals something from their vehicle. Yet this is not the first reaction of most people who experience sexual violations.
According to rainn.org, 770 out of 1,000 sexual assaults go unreported to the police. That means that only 23% of all sexual abuse/assaults may have a response from the justice system.   

So why is it that most people do NOT call the police after experiencing sexual assault? 

There are many reasons — both personal concerns and system failures.

95% of the suspected sexual abusers are part of the victim’s family or social circle:  friend, friend of friend/family, date, boyfriend, roommate, coworker, fellow student, acquaintance, or person of power (e.g., landlord, teacher, boss).  

With this prevalence, the most common reasons given for not reporting #WhyIDidn’tReport:

  • “I just want him to leave me alone and put this behind me”
  • “He and his friends/family will make my life a nightmare”
  • “He will deny it and no one will believe me”
  • “My parents will kill him if they find out”
  • “The cops will call it “drunk sex” and tell me not to ruin his life”
  • “I was drinking, but I didn’t want to have sex”
  • “He will fire me and my friend if I tell anyone”

Social stigma and shame:  Common reactions immediately after include shame for trusting (I should have known better), self-blame (we were drinking), denial (it’s not that bad, he didn’t mean to hurt me). They feel responsible for “causing trouble” if they report their experience.   

Family or Community pressure:  In many instances (particularly with children and teens), both people are connected by family or friendship. Reporting the abuse/assault will disrupt the family system and people will “choose sides.” 

Fear or distrust of law enforcement:  The response by law enforcement varies widely by jurisdiction and the officer’s training. Fear of deportation exists when the victim or a member of the household is “undocumented.”  Language barriers also deter reporting.  

If you or someone you know experienced sexual assault or abuse, call Mosaic Georgia at 866-900-6019. We will listen to you and help you sort out your options. All services are free and confidential.  You may choose to have a medical forensic exam at Mosaic Georgia without reporting to law enforcement. 

We want you to feel comfortable and ready if you choose to report. If you later decide to report the assault, the evidence collected can be available for testing. Whether or not you end up deciding to report, we are by your side every step of the way.

 

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A Brighter Future During Uncertain Times

 

Dear supporters, community partners and beloved clients, past and present, 

Hello! As we enter the 5th month of COVID-19 in our midst, the weariness from uncertainty, hyper-vigilance, and isolation is real. Fortunately, our Mosaic Georgia team remains in good health as we adapt with strict infection prevention protocols for all who come to the center. 
 
Like all service organizations, Mosaic Georgia looks for new and different ways to fulfill our mission. We listen, observe, and respond to the needs of our clients by cultivating resources to address threats to their safety, health, and justice (which includes healing). 
 
We told you about our Empowerment Fund launched a couple of months ago. Several grantors provided funds for specific client relief resources (transportation, counseling, emergency shelter, housing stability, civil legal issues, medications, etc.). The most significant (and costly) financial strain is basic housing. The eviction moratorium is lifted and landlords this month will file dispossessory actions on tenants who are behind on their rent. Families in emotional and financial distress require significant support to remain in their homes—right as school begins.
 
Here’s some fantastic news: Mosaic Georgia was just awarded $285,000 from Gwinnett County! These funds will help our financially-injured clients regain housing stability with the help of a housing navigator and assistance with rent and utilities. 
 
In an effort to strengthen the community impacted by COVID-19, Gwinnett County recently awarded $13.3 million to 104 local nonprofits and faith-based agencies. This was secured by the County through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). 
 
It’s no secret that COVID-19 has taken its toll on all of us, but victims of sexual assault and abuse are undoubtedly among the most severely afflicted. Job loss has left people pressed for resources to relocate from danger or access legal services, while extended periods of time in quarantine means that many individuals are stuck at home with or nearby their abusers. With this grant, Mosaic Georgia will be able to provide relief in the form of rent and utilities payments along with personalized housing navigation support.
 
At least $200,000 of the grant money will pay landlords and utility companies – an investment in the local economy and efficient way to avoid the costs created by losing shelter. The remaining amount will bolster staffing and operational activities to ensure that relief is provided and executed for clients as efficiently as possible. Mosaic Georgia’s Executive Director, Marina Peed, expressed “With the County’s support, we will ease the financial and emotional stresses our clientele experience during this time.” With these new funds, Mosaic Georgia is ready to bring certainty of a brighter future to those we serve even in the most uncertain of times! 
 
For more information about our housing services, please check out: https://www.mosaicgeorgia.org/housing-navigation-services/
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Introducing the Crisis Support and Empowerment Fund!

 

Is 2020 over yet? Between the COVID-19 pandemic and community consciousness movements surrounding violence against black and brown people that have shaken our planet, it seems impossible to not feel the aftershocks of collective exhaustion and trauma from the layers and duration of human suffering. This pain is not equitably distributed. There is, however, some good news amidst the chaos. We see from our work that healing can happen with honest, difficult conversations about the problems prevailing in our society and their impacts followed by coordinated actions to create a common good.

Mosaic Georgia’s mission is to take action and guide change for the safety, health & justice of children and adults impacted by sexual violence. Sexual assault victims are often hit the hardest as the resulting financial strains or loss of employment pose yet another barrier to securing safety and defense from their abusers. With our commitment to help people put their lives back together, we launched a Crisis Support & Empowerment Fund. Thanks to our community partners, including United Way of Greater Atlanta, we have several resources to help victims, and provide stability and planning for future success during this unprecedented time.

Victims and their immediate families almost always experience intense disruption following the disclosure of sexual abuse or violence. The psychological trauma is compounded by time and financial stressors. A bit of help can often provide a stable base to establish new roots and start new, empowered lives.

A parent reached out to us last week for help in breaking their lease. The man who raped her daughter last year had been coming to their home at odd hours, creating more uncertainty and distress. Both parents have lost wages due to COVID-19. Our legal advocates assisted in negotiating out of the lease while our housing navigator helped secure sufficient funds for a new landlord to cover the security deposit and first month’s rent for their new home, as well as transfer utility billings. “We felt trapped and helpless because we couldn’t afford to move. Our daughter couldn’t sleep and didn’t feel safe. We’re moving this weekend! You are a blessing to our family.”

The Crisis Support & Empowerment Fund helps victims transition into survivors through these services:

  • Housing Navigation & Assistance: help develop an action plan for housing and financial stability in the COVID-19 era.
  • Counseling Support: Connections to trauma-focused therapy/counseling to assist with healing. Financial support may be available.
  • Legal Services: Free assistance with civil legal issues arising from sexual assault/abuse victimization including protective orders, child custody, child support, divorce, employment, education, and housing issues.

This fund allows us to assist with essential, immediate and short-term needs such as transportation, medications, groceries, clothing, emergency shelter, housing preservation and homelessness prevention.

2020 has been nothing short of challenging. The COVID-19 era has made change and adaptability a new norm and has also pushed organizations everywhere to innovate new ways of serving their communities. Mosaic Georgia is excited to be part of this new opportunity to not only break down barriers preventing victims of sexual violence from moving forward, but also be an active part in working to change the conditions that allow personal violence to persist.

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Mosaic Georgia experienced major growth and changes in 2018. In one year, we have undergone a name change, increased in staff size, and have increased the amount of services provided. Like every year, our community provided a huge amount of help and made a gigantic difference in the lives of our clients in 2018.

The Rotary Club of Sugarloaf was one of the many partners that helped increase access to the services Mosaic Georgia offered in 2018. With their help, Mosaic Georgia was able to create a transportation fund for clients who face transportation barriers. These funds have been crucial in ensuring that our clients receive timely forensic medical care, forensic interviews, legal services, and advocacy services.

We are incredibly grateful for the contributions of everyone in the community. It is because of you that Mosaic Georgia has been able to provide excellent services in a safe and welcoming environment.

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