Attending the JUST Conference

What is JUST Conference?

"This unforgettable and inspiring conference features today’s most pressing issues in the anti-trafficking field. Presentations and workshops focus on skill-building, survivor experiences, cross-discipline collaboration, task force development, case studies and lessons learned. The JuST Conference continues to stand by the motto that each person has a role to play in preventing and ending commercial sexual exploitation, and that a collaborative community response is critical. Whether you are just getting started or have been working on the issue for years, we have something for everyone."
This conference in Washington D.C. allows individuals and organizations to come together and educate. In attendance were district attorneys, judges, and human trafficking experts.

Our Attendance

As the sun streamed in to the beautiful, albeit maze like, halls of the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington DC that mid-November morning I knew the 2021 JUST Conference would be amazing in multiple ways. We quickly set up our table next to one of our partner organizations that works locally in Phoenix, Streetlight USA, made our introductions and happily waited for attendees to come by so we could entice them with supporting trafficking survivors by purchasing products or just giving them information in what we do and why we do it. We took turns attending the lectures ourselves to further learn about every topic related to trafficking that we could manage to find a seat in. With over 600 attendees none of the lectures were short on an audience. Those who attended all came from various different backgrounds, people from across the globe and in so many different fields- lawyers, survivors, advocates, counselors, film makers, heads of charitable organizations, Senators, law enforcement, journalists, and many more. On the second day we were fortunate enough to meet someone who runs many charitable organizations in India to help rehabilitate and restore children who have been sold and ladies from red light districts. Our president found many things in common with them regarding goals, view points, beliefs, and passion- it was amazing watching them interact and connect professionally to further along each other’s causes. So we made friends, connections, and hopefully and impact on this overwhelming problem we have in this world. We will keep fighting for justice, recovery, restoration and prevention as we move forward in our business with more education and resources. 


Opportunity For Education

Each day of the JUST Conference consisted of different sessions pertaining to education around protecting and handling trafficking survivors, especially minors. 

Day 1

The first session of the day was to "highlight how the entire court team from the presiding judge, prosecutors, opposing counsel, and service providers, take a trauma informed approach to treating the child victim."

Using Noncriminal Legal Interventions and an Alternative Service Response to Respond to Juvenile Sex Trafficking
"This sort of intervention allows individuals engaging in commercial sex to report crimes, such as sexual assault or human trafficking, and access services without fear of prosecution"

Making Progress: Utilizing Assessment Tools to Evaluate Treatment Outcomes
"It is important as providers develop treatment models for childhood victims of sex trafficking that the field evaluate the most effective and predictive assessment tools. Correlations are beginning to emerge that appear to be predictive of response to treatment; these outcomes may also have value in determining the most appropriate level of care."

Supporting the Survivor While in the Home and Community
"Looking at how we can take a trauma informed approach while doing home based services within the survivors own environment and community. We will take a look at how services can be utilized and provided in the community to create an environment for the greatest chance for success for the survivor"

Parker Human Trafficking Classification System 
The Parker Human Trafficking Classification System "provides a systematic way to understand the experience without requiring clients to repeatedly recount their experience and facilitates the inclusion of new service providers without misstating information. The assessment tool gives therapist a jump-start on understanding the needs and puts the control of the therapeutic narrative in the hands of the client."

The Quest for Accurate Data: Answering the Prevalence Question With Public Health Surveillance to Guide Prevention
"This session explores how population-level data on commercial sexual exploitation can shape a public health approach. We present a prevalence estimate and information about youth who indicate involvement in trading sex/sexual exploitation"

Justice for Survivors through Vacatur and Expungement
"Unjust criminal records obtained while being trafficked often prevent survivors from obtaining employment, housing assistance, and other services. Work is being done across the country to strengthen vacatur laws, but implementation in a wholistic, trauma-informed, survivor led manner is key to restoring justice."

Meeting CSEC Survivors Where They Are: Harm Reduction in Sex Trafficking for Youth in the Foster Care System
This session went over "the importance of having foster parents trained and competent in understanding the impact of trauma survivors may experience. Many children in the foster care system have experienced re-traumatization in the foster homes due to the lack of knowledge and training the foster parents may have. This workshop will also discuss strategies and techniques that can be utilized by foster parents in order to reduce disruption of placement and provide a safe and supportive environment for children to thrive."

Fostering Resiliency in Survivors of Familial Trafficking: A Guide for Service Providers
"Family members perpetrating commercial sexual exploitation of their own children is often considered the most severe form of trafficking. Service providers require specialized tools to assist survivors of childhood commercial sexual exploitation in order to establish trust by providing the stability, hope, and strength needed to culminate in resiliency acquisition. This workshop will include case studies and tools for working with CSEC survivors, including non-traditional methods needed to foster resiliency and healing in this population."

Surviving Op-Ed Writing and Engaging with the Media
"This workshop for Survivors of CSE/C focuses on empowering Survivors with essential skills to get their voices heard! We’ll explore the art and skill of writing and pitching effective op-ed articles. Pulling from our lived experiences as well as evidence based arguments Survivors have a singular ability to be persuasive and advocate for those we serve on a public scale. The workshop will wrap up with a crash course strategy session on engaging with media in ways that push our narratives forward to tell stories that are larger than just our own while avoiding some of the more common media pitfalls. Both sections will identify challenges, outline potential solutions, and give real world examples of best practices that promote a movement that centers around listening to survivors."

Just How Complex is Complex Trauma and What Is The Implication for Treatment
This session "describes the complexity of trauma experienced by victims of CSE and the implication for treatment planning and program development. The presentation reviews data related to trauma and personal characteristics about 155 youth and how that data was utilized to create strategies to develop individual treatment plans and enhance program components related to complex trauma. These strategies are then discussed in an interactive group activity to conclude the session."

Money Laundering, Illegal Enterprise and a CST Investigation
"[Un]cover how child sex trafficking suspects are not only trafficking adults and juveniles but are committing other felonious acts when they conduct their illegal activities transferring and receiving money from prostitution acts to further their criminal enterprise. Participants will learn about using other investigative techniques to expand an investigation of child sex trafficking and using the data gathered to add charges making stronger cases where victims sometimes become uncooperative."

Day 2

“Queen of Diamonds” Case Study. US v. Travis Sentall Robinson, a.k.a. Triggaplay
"Travis Robinson AKA “Triggaplay” claimed to be connected with a Grammy nominated artist and well-plugged into the Atlanta music scene. He used this narrative to recruit girls and bring them to Atlanta for grooming before introducing them to his other victims. This was in efforts to build a “sex-trafficking empire” called “Queen of Diamonds” from his Lawrenceville home. Robinson, and other family members, used fraud to recruit victims between the ages of 17 and 22. He used technology to track and monitor their activities. Little did he know, he was the one being tracked by a relentless Vice Unit and their FBI partners. Law enforcement monitored the group’s social media while conducting undercover  street level and online investigations in an effort to dismantle Robinson’s organization. Additionally, law enforcement built valuable relationships with victims service providers to ensure that the victims received much needed support while navigating the criminal justice system."

Engaging Schools in Juvenile Sex Trafficking Prevention, Identification, and Intervention Programming
"The facilitator will review how schools and related systems interact with youth who are the most vulnerable for exploitation and discuss different points of entry into school communities. Participants will be provided with examples of data that can be used to pitch programming to school administrators and establish relationships."

Navigating the Legal System and Working with a Pro-Bono Trauma-Informed Lawyer
"This session will focus on strategies to navigate the legal system and ways to support other survivors as they do so. This session will focus on practicing compassion, non-judgment and empowering survivors throughout the legal process. The first part will be a panel of pro-bono trauma informed lawyers led by a Survivor moderator. We will address questions related to the legal process, discuss legal remedies available to survivors, including accessing legal representation across multiple states."

Interviewing Sex Trafficked Minors
"This module will address the fundamental and most critical component of investigations involving sex trafficked minors: the interview of the victim. Participants will learn about the FBI's forensic interviewing protocol and how it is utilized when interviewing these victims. Victim dynamics and barriers that impact the victims’ reluctance to disclose will be addressed. This module will provide participants with tools and skills necessary to identify and overcome the challenges of these difficult interviews."

Utilizing MiiWrap with Survivors
"MiiWrap combines the evidence-based practices of Motivational Interviewing and Wraparound. It is a process with a mindset, principles, and activities that are individualized and allows survivors to define their own vision and goals. MiiWrap values clients’ voice and choice and builds a team of natural and professional supports to create sustainable outcomes. MiiWrap uses directive, client-centered counseling to elicit behavior change to help survivors resolve ambivalence. When utilized with survivors of sex trafficking, it increases engagement and outcomes."

Child Trafficking Disclosures: Understanding Barriers & Meeting Child Survivor Needs
"Due to trauma-bonds to exploiters, prior incidents of abuse and the system responses to that abuse, as well as reluctance to disclose with unmet needs, youth victims of trafficking are not as likely to disclose their exploitation immediately. With a traditional reliance on disclosures, these cases often go uninvestigated or not prosecuted, without the child’s statement. This session will provide participants with the tools for meeting child survivor needs without that disclosure, with case examples and practical strategies for navigating these complex cases without them. Having an understanding of the process of disclosures and the barriers to them for trafficked youth, can allow multidisciplinary team members to still meet child survivor needs."

Using a Multi-Cycle Approach to Evaluate a Statewide Youth Anti-Trafficking Public Health Initiative: A Case Study of the Safe Harbor Program Evaluation by the Minnesota Department of Health and Wilder Research
This session went over "Safe Harbor’s replicable evaluation process, including critical components and partnerships, selected documented outcomes, lessons learned, and changes made to Safe Harbor after each successive evaluation phase. The workshop and case study also spotlights a successful partnership between a state public health department and a community-based research organization, by illustrating how an inclusive evaluation process improves, and holds accountable, a statewide multidisciplinary response."

All Hands on Deck: Identifying and Supporting Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth in the Juvenile Justice System
"This workshop will explore LA County Probation Department’s innovative efforts to better identify and support youth who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation. Specifically, it will discuss the development of the Child Trafficking Unit (CTU), which provides intensive, strengths-based support and case management services to youth involved in Probation who have been identified as CSE. This workshop will cover several components of the Unit that differentiate it from other juvenile Probation units: increased engagement, consistency with probation officer, and extensive multidisciplinary teaming with other agencies. In addition, this workshop will discuss other innovative efforts supported by the CTU, such as curriculums, programming in detention, and survivor empowerment events."

Illuminating the “Invisible”: How Texas Is Tackling Trafficking at Scale With Data, Advanced Visual Analytics, and Survivor Insights
"Survivors of commercial sexual exploitation often recount feeling "invisible" while in the life, a reality reinforced when agencies and communities lack the information needed to effectively identify and protect those they seek to serve. We can't solve a problem we can't see...or measure. Working with law enforcement, children's advocacy centers, victim advocates, child welfare, NGOs, and survivor leaders, the Texas Governor’s Child Sex Trafficking Team (CSTT) and Allies took an innovative approach to create meaningful performance measures for statewide, local, and individual organization strategic planning."

Porn and Sex Trafficking: Unpacking the Connections
This workshop showed studies to show "that trafficking and porn are seamlessly woven together, both economically and culturally. Both depend on the intersection of sexism, racism and poverty to provide a steady supply of women and children to the sex industry. A major research question is: What are the cultural factors at work that provide a steady supply of buyers? Social scientists argue that sex buyers are constructed through a complex socialization system that trains them from an early age that they have the privilege to buy sex."

Empowering survivors by creating moments through the power of film
"Point of View Story (POVS) creates guided series of psychoeducational films used to increase awareness, deepen trauma processing, and reduce re-exploitation for survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking. The short films coupled with a facilitator guide equips service providers with an intervention tool to address therapeutic stuck points and enhance the healing process. Watch. Talk. Heal."

Moral Disengagement in the Beliefs and Behaviors of Sex Buyers and Society
This session "will explore forms of moral disengagement in the beliefs and behaviors of sex buyers, and discuss the importance of society’s role in constructing social safeguards against their conduct as the path to reducing sexual violence and exploitation."

Surviving Strong: Utilizing Homeless Housing Resources as an Alternative to Detention for CSEC and at-Risk Youth by Creatively Leveraging Existing Community Resources
"This session breaks down the pathways to success when Victim Advocacy, Safe Housing, and Juvenile Probation work together. Safe housing for at risk and sexually exploited youth is crucial to their stabilization. Historically, law enforcement agencies have turned to juvenile justice as a means to provide safety to youth when other housing alternatives did not exist. Understanding that a more home-like environment with wrap around services would be ideal, we sought to collaborate to locate additional trauma informed shelter options for youth. This session breaks down our work to join Victim Advocacy, Safe Housing and Juvenile Probation to help bridge this gap and pilot a unique housing program in Spokane County."

Engagement of Healthcare Systems: The Development and Implementation of Sustainable Trauma Informed Protocols for Minor Victims of Trafficking
"As a Hospital based CAC, Children’s Hospital of The Kings Daughters has developed trauma informed protocols to respond to the rapidly growing numbers of children presenting to the Emergency Department for an injury or illness and subsequently being identified as a trafficking victim. Over the past two years we have created a response to provide identification, support and treatment to this population. We will provide information about how we tailored these protocols to our hospital and enlisted the help of our MDT partners to join in our efforts to provide appropriate services to these survivors. We will talk about the specific training provided to these medical professionals and community partners and provide case examples for some of our ”lessons learned” and high profile cases."

(Almost) Losing our Minds: Navigating the Post-Trafficking Experience and Marriage
This session gave "participants a good picture of what marriage may look like post-trafficking. Everyone knows that marriage is hard work- throwing in complex-trauma adds a whole new dimension. This presentation includes insight, from both husband and wife, to some of the biggest challenges that couples face after trafficking. Utilizing humor and candid conversation, the audience will gain further insight and understanding into the unique dynamics at play, as well as gain perspective on what the long road to recovery looks like within the family setting."
To view all the events, seminars, and participants of this conference, visit the JUST Conference website and the event program.