Central Virginia's First Transition Shelter for Human Trafficking Victims to Open in 2018

Richmond, Va. (Jan. 30, 2018) – Safe Harbor and Bon Secours Richmond Health System together announce the establishment of a second human trafficking shelter to serve the Central Virginia area. The shelter will provide transitional housing and services for survivors of human trafficking and is the latest service addition to Safe Harbor’s program. This will be the region’s first dedicated shelter of its kind to provide transitional shelter, counseling and case management in a single location to adult female human trafficking victims.

Residents of the six-bed transition shelter, donated by Bon Secours, will already have succeeded in addressing immediate needs during the crisis stage through Safe Harbor’s emergency shelter, which opened in January 2017. The primary goal of the transition shelter is to provide victims with a place to live while they learn life skills, secure employment and gain an education while also focusing on the next stage of their counseling program.

“Bon Secours and Safe Harbor recognize the specialized needs of survivors of human trafficking,” said Toni R. Ardabell, CEO of Bon Secours Virginia Health System. “Survivors are still vulnerable, even after the emergency stage. Donating this shelter is one of the many ways Bon Secours is actively working to end human trafficking and to support its survivors in their courageous effort to rebuild their lives.”

Safe Harbor received a two-year grant of $500,000 per year from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services VOCA New Initiative Victim Assistance Grant Program to establish both their emergency and transitional human trafficking shelters.  The grant funds victim services staffing, essential equipment and supplies for the shelters. Safe Harbor has also received generous monetary and service donations from the community at large to help make the house feel like a home.

The confidential location will welcome residents upon its official opening in early 2018. The shelter meets critical needs for survivors of human trafficking who have been stabilized and who are in need of a safe place to move their lives forward.

“There are many paths human trafficking survivors can take to facilitate a move to independent living. One includes migrating from emergency shelters to transitional shelters,” said Cathy Easter, executive director, Safe Harbor. “The transition shelter provides critical support to survivors who are on their way to living independently while rebuilding their lives.”

While Henrico County is the shelter’s primary service territory, victims of human trafficking who will reside in the shelter will be referred from localities throughout the Central Virginia region. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the shelter may also house federal crime victims including international victims of human trafficking. 

“We look forward to continued collaboration with the community to advocate for human trafficking survivors in all stages of their journey,” continued Easter. 

Bon Secours forensic nurses collect evidence from victims of physical abuse and sexual violence, including human trafficking, in the greater Richmond area and beyond. Many of the victims of human trafficking have not received basic medical care in years, however, forensic nurses at Bon Secours are trained to identify and respond to victims of trafficking who present for care in the health care sector. 

These nurses are expertly trained leaders in their field, providing education to police, EMTs, teachers, physicians and other health care providers, emergency departments and many others, with the goal of identifying and assisting victims, preserving evidence and obtaining justice. Bon Secours forensic nurses have seen more than 100 human trafficking patients in the last two years.

To learn more about the shelter and Safe Harbor’s work with survivors of human trafficking, please visit www.safeharborshelter.com.