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Turning Point creates human trafficking program in Macomb County with targeted grant money; announces program director

Media Contact: Barbara Fornasiero, EAFocus Communications; barbara@eafocus.com; 248.260.8466; Sara Dobbyn, Turning Point; sdobbyn@turningpointmacomb.org; 586.463.4430 x240

Mount Clemens, Mich. – November 29, 2022 Turning Point, an agency whose mission is to empower domestic and sexual violence survivors through comprehensive services and resources, has introduced a Human Trafficking Program to support survivors of human trafficking in Southeast Michigan thanks to a $400,000 renewable grant from VOCA (Victims of Crime Act). The announcement was made by Turning Point President & CEO Sharman Davenport, Ph.D.

Human trafficking is defined as a person being compelled against their will by force, fraud and coercion into commercial sex acts or into labor or service; often the trafficker is someone the victim loved and trusted. Grant funding, which is per year for two years to start, will cover expanded housing units currently being acquired by Turning Point, survivor counseling support and advocacy services for re-entry into life post-human trafficking, additional staffing and administrative costs, and the recent purchase of a van for direct outreach efforts.

“People who have been trafficked for sex or labor have experienced exploitation similar to survivors of domestic and sexual violence,” Davenport said. “Many cases of human trafficking, like domestic and sexual violence, go unreported, but it is pervasive and happening here in Macomb County. With this grant funding, we have new resources so critical to connecting with survivors of human trafficking and empowering them in new lives free of oppression and violence.”

Although there are differences between domestic violence and human trafficking, traffickers use many of the same behaviors as domestic violence abusers to exert power over others. The goal for both a trafficker and an abuser is to make a victim feel shamed, worthless, and totally dependent physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. As with its traditional services, Turning Point’s new Human Trafficking Program provides individualized survivor-centered and trauma informed support for survivors during their healing process, including outreach, counseling, advocacy and housing. 

“Importantly, the Turning Point program will be one of the only programs to serve all survivors of human trafficking – labor or sex – including people of all genders or sexual orientations, as well as those with children or who are experiencing addiction,” Carmen Wargel, Senior Strategy Director at Turning Point, said.  “Our empowerment-based program offers support and resources for survivors of trafficking to establish and meet their own goals.”

The Director of the Human Trafficking Program is Natasha Al-Rafie who joined Turning Point this month. Immediately prior to her new position, Al-Rafie was the Program Manager at Foundation Communities in Texas. Natasha also has experience working in a shelter program and providing support for mental health and substance use.

Referrals for the Human Trafficking Program are accepted through Turning Point’s 24-hour hotline 586-463-6990, via email at housing@turningpointmacomb.org, or by calling 586-463-4330. 

About Turning Point 

Turning Point provides comprehensive, free, and confidential programs for domestic violence, sexual violence, and human trafficking survivors, their loved ones, and the community. Services include a 24-hour hotline, emergency shelter, housing, trauma advocacy/counseling, personal protection order assistance, legal advocacy, forensic nurse exams, first response advocacy, prevention, and community education. Second Hand Rose, another Turning Point service, provides survivors with gently used items while providing an opportunity for the community to donate and shop. Serving Metro Detroit for more than 40 years, Turning Point has helped over 125,000 survivors. Visit www.turningpointmacomb.org for more information.

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