The Hope Through Health Clinic with CommUnityCare, which provides a range of services for human trafficking survivors, has been selected to receive the Community Empowerment Award from the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.

The award ceremony on March 12, from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in the Dallas-Forth Worth Airport, recognizes extraordinary efforts in the fight to eliminate sexual violence in Texas.

Hope Through Health Clinic with CommUnityCare is an interdisciplinary effort of professionals at The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Social Work, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Seton Healthcare, Refugee Services of Texas, CommUnityCare, and more recently The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Nursing.

Noel Busch Armendariz
Dr. Busch Armendariz

“Research indicates that trafficking survivors are subjected to severe physical and psychological trauma,” said Dr. Noël Busch-Armendariz, associate dean for research at The University of Texas at Austin’s  School of Social Work and director of the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. “Before the opening of this clinic, survivors received care either in emergency rooms or through fragmented visits with providers who are rarely trained to address the complex psycho-social-medical needs of this vulnerable and traumatized patient population.”

The specialized clinic receives only survivors of sex and labor trafficking twice a month. Survivors receive trauma-informed services such as medical exams and lab, psychiatry and mental health assessments, social support, life skills, and therapeutic child activities.

“We are very glad to be part of this initiative, and to be able to provide comprehensive care for human trafficking survivors,” said George N. Miller, Chief Executive Officer of CommUnityCare.

Busch-Armendariz said that human trafficking is a form of modern slavery that generates $32 billion a year and victimizes 27 million people worldwide. Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud or coercion for the purposes of sexual exploitation or forced labor. The vast majority of trafficked individuals are women and children. In 2013, Texas had the second to highest number of calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, after California, with a total of 2,263 calls.

Posted February 5, 2014 – By Andrea Campetella