Sojourner House is the only agency Rhode Island that provides emergency shelter specifically for victims of human trafficking, and also operates a transitional housing program with wraparound services. Its THEIA (Trafficking, Housing, Empowerment, Immigration & Advocacy) program has provided housing and supportive services for more than 200 trafficking victims since its inception in 2016. The new OVC grant will allow Sojourner House to enhance services provided to residents of its housing programs and to begin providing comprehensive services to trafficking victims living in the community, with a particular focus on the underserved cities of Providence, Woonsocket and Central Falls.
“I am grateful to Sojourner House for the critical work they do to help victims of human trafficking safely recover. This federal funding will enhance their ability to deliver essential, individualized services to help victims permanently escape their traffickers, heal from the trauma, and become stronger, more independent people,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed. “It will also ensure Sojourner House’s victim-centered, trauma-informed services are accessible to all”.
Vanessa Volz, Sojourner House Executive Director, said “Traffickers exert power and control over their victims, use physical and sexual abuse to maintain control, and keep them isolated from friends, family, and supportive services. As a result, victims often lose their self-worth, feel as
though they have no choices, and experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other behavioral health issues. This funding will significantly help improve and expand the state’s coordinated efforts to help trafficking victims secure housing, address trauma, and pursue a life free from abuse.”
The second project that was awarded an OVC grant will increase the availability of accessible victim-centered, trauma-informed services for Deaf and/or hard of hearing individuals who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. The $380,000+ grant will support the collaborative efforts of Sojourner House and Tri-County Community Action Agency (Tri-County), a partnership which also recently received a federal grant from the Office of Violence Against Women to create sustainable change within and between organizations in the state to improve the response to victims with disabilities and Deaf individuals.
“Congratulations to Sojourner House for receiving these two competitive grant awards to strengthen and expand its services for victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault in Rhode Island,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Victims of violence and abuse often need comprehensive support because of the severe trauma they’ve experienced. From safe housing, to substance abuse counseling, to financial education, Sojourner House will be able to provide victims a much-needed helping hand in rebuilding their lives.”
About Sojourner House:
Founded in 1976, the mission of Sojourner House is to promote healthy relationships by providing culturally sensitive support, advocacy, housing, and education for victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking; and to effect systems change. Sojourner House offers Rhode Island's largest and most comprehensive residential services program for victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking, including safe shelter, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, rental assistance, and rapid re-housing. In addition to safe housing, Sojourner House provides trauma-informed supportive services, such as clinical therapy, immigration advocacy, one-on-one advocacy, support groups, financial literacy education, and access to basic necessities like food. Sojourner House also provides a Drop-In advocacy and resource center in the greater Providence area, offering victims and community members access to support and services when and where they need it most. For more information, visit www.sojournerri.org.