FAIR Girls’ Vida Home is the only safe home that exclusively serves young women survivors of sex trafficking and labor trafficking aged 18 to 26 in the metro Washington, D.C. area. Up to 50 survivors walk thru our Vida Home doors each year. While over 90% of the girls we serve at FAIR Girls are U.S. citizens, we also serve young women from as far away as Serbia, Nigeria, El Salvador, and Jamaica.
INSPIRATION FOR THE VIDA HOME
A chance meeting one night inside a dark Serbian brothel brought 14-year-old sex trafficking victim, Vida, and FAIR Girls Executive Director, Andrea, together. Vida’s life as a homeless and trafficked teenage girl illuminated the desperate need for a restorative home that would stop the cycle of exploitation and violence in her life. It is in her honor that the Vida Home began. As FAIR Girls’ grew in serve hundreds of American girls, the most glaring need for a safe and specially designed home for young women survivors of trafficking emerged. Just like Vida, they chances to thrive were greatly diminished if they did not have a safe place to begin their path toward recovery.
THE VIDA HOME IS A LEADERSHIP HOME
Our Vida Home is more then a shelter, it is a leadership home where up to 6 young women at a time receive access to 24/7 care including a warm bed, access to counseling and survivor support groups, personal growth and leadership skills training, meals and basic necessities, and access to safe transportation to and from work, school, and our drop in center. Each young woman can stay up to 90 days while we work with her to find long-term housing.
Our team of two overnight counselors, two case managers, clinical programs director, executive director, and volunteers serve these incredibly brave but often marginalized young women every day. Each young woman can stay up to 90 days while we work with her to find long-term housing. Our team of two overnight counselors, two case managers, clinical programs director, executive director, and volunteers serve these incredibly brave but often marginalized young women every day.
FAIR Girls’ approach is one of depth and commitment. Each survivor has a personal case manager who works daily with her to ensure she meets her goals and stays safe. During the week, Vida Home residents join FAIR Girls at our drop in center to attend survivor support group, leadership workshops, well being workshops, art therapy, and job finding support. Whether it is 3PM or 3AM, one of FAIR Girls staff is always on call to support every “FAIR girl” who needs our care.
WHY DO SURVIVORS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING NEED SPECIALIZED HOUSING?
Young women housed in the FAIR Girls apartment are currently 58% more likely to exit commercial sexual exploitation and remain disengaged with their perpetrator when compared with those referred to non-specialized housing services through community partners. Without this critical resource, victims recovered by law enforcement entities are likely to be incarcerated and are often subsequently re-victimized and traumatized in prison settings until shelter beds become available. FAIR Girls partners in law enforcement cite feeling more comfortable intervening in known human trafficking rings with knowledge that available housing resources are now available for victims. Without these specialized housing services, interventions are less likely to occur and/or be effective for this population and victims are more likely to be incarcerated and re-traumatized in an effort to remove them from the immediate danger of street-based crime.