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Tarrant County 5 Stones July 2023 Meeting

Here is our recorded meeting link and chat notes for our July 2023 TC 5 Stones meeting!

Our 5 Stones meeting this July consisted of some updates and a presentation by Landon Dickeson, MS, LPC, Executive Director of Ranch Hands Rescue as he discussed the trafficking of boys and other overlooked populations.

Here is the link to the recorded meeting:

The chat log is how our online audience was able to introduce themselves and their agencies.  Here is the link to the chat log:

Spotlight Agency this month – Alliance for Children:  https://www.allianceforchildren.org/

This month we had 2 agency announcements:

  • Lance Cashion – Forge Room Foundation 
  • CJ Winslow – Catering to Love
    • Catering to Love is available for any organizations that have Christ-honoring outreach missions that are hosting events where food, snacks, or games could be a blessing.  Services provided are low-cost.  https://cateringtolove.org/

For those wanting to get more involved, follow the link below to see a list of ways you can participate in anti-trafficking efforts!

How Can I Help List:

Thank you for joining us!  

Felicia Tallent, Founder
Tarrant County 5 Stones Taskforce

TC 5 Stones July 2023

This month we heard from our law enforcement partners for case updates, then we had a presentation by Landon Dickeson, MS, LPC, with Ranch Hands Rescue as he discussed the trafficking of boys and other overlooked populations.

Landon Dickeson, MS, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a focus on trauma-informed interventions.

Landon completed his BS in Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience from Texas A&M University, then pursued his graduate education at the University of North Texas where he obtained an MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Landon has experience treating trauma across the lifespan in a variety of settings including inpatient, residential, risk of harm assessment, suicide loss, outpatient, and support groups. He has been trained in Equine and Animal Assisted Counseling, EMDR, DBT, talk therapy, C-SSRS, and a variety of supplementary approaches. Landon is honored to serve the animals and people who seek help at Ranch Hands Rescue.

“I do not see individuals as good or bad, nor as defined by their diagnosis. I see individuals as coping with wounds to the best of their ability. It is my belief that together we can uncover new ways to thrive, not simply survive.”

Unedited YouTube Transcript

so we will jump right into things um I do want to give a thank you to
catering to love for providing the food today
they always do a great job and then we also have a spotlight agency
which you may have noticed out in the hallway and that is Alliance for children
and I'm going to have them come to the front and share a little bit about who they are and what they do
well good morning everybody my name is Cheryl Richardson and I work for Alliance for children we are a
Children's Advocacy Center in Tarrant County uh we are a non-profit agency so
our mission is to protect Tarrant County Children from to attend investigations healing services and
Community Education so we talk about teamed investigations we're all working together as a team for healing Services
Community Education and the and the investigators so we make sure that no child has fallen between between the
cracks we also have a medical team we also work with the Tarrant County DA's office and
juvenile services um the healing Services includes a forensic interviewers we have counseling
services at our facility and we have family advocates who help the family but with resources
and that sort of thing um as a community education is what um we do and we are the community community
go out into our schools and talk to children and adults about how to keep their bodies safe and also about
Internet safety uh we know that that is a huge interest right now and so we
start back in September going to all these elementary schools and talking to the kiddos about how to be safe and what
things to look out for and maybe red flags to be watching for so in 2022 we
served over 1500 sexual abuse victims in Tarrant County um there's all the services that we do
provide are to the children and their families so we want to make sure everybody understands that we get grants
and we have very nice donors that give us donations throughout the year which is awesome
um so referrals can only come from investigators or CPS law enforcement CPS
they actually refer these people over to us so they can't come in off the streets and just you know pop in but it's very
important that they know where they else what other places they can go to
the care coordinator that we have in our agency is Emma she's here today and she
provides coordination for all trafficking cases in Tarrant County these cases are tracking the children
um from the beginning all the way to their 18th birthday so we should sort of track them and know exactly what's going
on in case um but if they start doing really really well then they you know leave the agency
but if at any point in time they have any other abuses or any other things that they need to talk about they could
always come back to our services so a lot of these cases are worked with The Advocates from Unbound and traffic
911 who may be in this room today so we thank you all for your service we thank you for your support and your continued
efforts for ending trafficking in Tarrant County thank you all so much thank you
and before we get into uh more General announcements there is one more announcement that I'm going to have
Unbound come and make um and it's we heard a little bit from
Alliance for children here about there's this question that people ask what are we doing in the schools and so we're
trying to answer that a little bit today and we heard of what alliance is doing and now we'll hear from Unbound and what
they're doing so a director of Youth prevention over here is really the driving force that's
behind all of our prevention efforts but what we do is we're in all of the Fort Worth ISD schools working as part of the
collaborative effort that's the human trafficking youth prevention education grant and so in the past several months they've trained over 5 000 people it's a
partnership between Fort Worth ISD three strands Global and Unbound um in addition to that Unbound has a
proprietary curriculum called keeping students safe and we offer that to any local schools that want to be involved
in it they can just reach out to North Texas at unboundnow.org and we also have two facilitators for love 146's not a
member curriculum which is a five-week program really targeting the kids who are most vulnerable and can do
prevention education there so if you know of a school that wants prevention education and doesn't have it feel free to reach out
all right do we have any other agencies that like to make an announcement
good morning everybody how's everybody doing good all right everybody's eating
my name is Lance cashion and I am the CEO and founder of the forge room Foundation
um and we equip the church Christians with world view cultural intelligence
and public theology okay what does that mean it means that we equip and encourage and
train the church to stand up against evil in our midst that main evil that
we're dealing with is human trafficking and so we're going to have our first human trafficking Forum on Sunday uh
September 10th there is a QR code I've put it on a couple of sheets up here that you can come up and snap it if you
want um it's going to be at Southwest Christian School Lakeside campus which
is right by Benbrook Lake off of Alta Mesa it's going to be from 5 until 7 P.M
we're going to have some speakers that are a part of the five Stones Community we're going to demystify uh human
trafficking for a lot of people that have seen a recent film that has come out that has raised some and
so we want to capture that capitalize on it demystify what trafficking is what it
isn't and then we want to be able to share that within the church because I believe that until the church stands up
and says no more we're going to continue to have things like human trafficking in our community and so this is Fort Worth
focused so we're going to go from Global all the way down for people just ordinary Christians what can I do and so
we're going to answer that question I hope you can join us again September 10th Sunday uh at Southwest Christian
School from 5 to 7 P.M thank you guys so much appreciate you um do we have
entry all right let's see where's this thing there we go all right so how was Mama's
Pizza yeah so Jordan thanks you guys for doing all that you do and he's just happy to be a
part of supporting in his part there so know that Mama's Pizza stands behind deal I wanted to actually cater off what
you were saying earlier catering to love our entity is there for y'all so we've done a lot of work with Unbound
obviously five Stones directly but if any of y'all do what we would construe is Christ honoring Outreach missions
such as hosting such events where food could bless that or our popcorn or cotton candy or snow cones or our tents
or our games or our various connections and especially if you play in the Foster space we have a ton of Connections in
that put me to work the Lord woke me up this morning and if he does tomorrow I need to be doing something for him and I
need you all to give me something to do so I just want y'all to know that my resources available to you just connect
with Felicia for my contact information it's freely available to those that are doing such good work so bless you guys
and thank you and enjoy okay and before we move on I do want to uh bring your attention uh
I get this question all the time what can I personally do in the fight against human trafficking I'm a volunteer I want
to plug in uh what what is my role what can I do and so we provide up at the front there is a
sheet it's the how can I help sheet and it has two pages of very specific things
that you as individuals can do and it is everything from being a 24 7 advocate
for an organization to Simply writing cards of encouragement for survivors and
everything in between so please feel free as you leave today grab a copy look
it over see if there's any way that you can fit in now we will go into our law enforcement
updates and we will hear from Fort Worth PD and detective Matthews howdy y'all all right I gotta I got a
few things for this month all right uh for this last month we've
had 11 reports come in and uh one tip so I'm gonna highlight a couple of the
reports we've had come in um one of them I just wanted to speak
about it because I mean it does take up our time and resources to investigate these but basically it was founded that
it was basically a false report what happens Mike called in anonymously to the CPS
tip line uh they reported that a mother was making her daughter her teenage
daughter have sex with adult men for money so they could pay rent she provided a lot of information but
she remained Anonymous um and then the information she did give was a fake name and fake information
so it uh you know took up a lot of our resources but we did look into it thoroughly interviewed the child
interviewed the parent also interviewed uh the parent was a home health care
provider and the lady she lived with we interviewed her and they were like you
know all the information they provided you know nothing was happening there um so we just wanted to highlight that
one because we get a lot of those um they turn out being nothing going on
but they are still worth checking into especially when a child's involved uh another one uh
if I can't stress anymore you know encourage parents to watch their
children um whoever report came in from a therapist who was reporting that one of
her clients who's a teenage client that the child revealed to her that she
has been taking nude photos and selling them and giving them away to people online since she was 11 years old
you know not sure how this happens but I just can't stress enough you know encourage
parents you know that have young children that have access to the internet or cell phones have them monitor their activity and
stuff I mean uh weather is of of her own will doing it I mean there's Predators out
there you know encouraging these young children to
provide this content to them um onto a couple more good so we
conducted Napa last week uh we uh found a female advertising
online she was barely an adult she's about 18 years old we got her in as soon
as we got her in she broke down and you know told us how somebody she met
and knew was forcing her into it so we made a good last week and looks
like we'll have a good case out of that I also want to give an update on a older case having a couple years ago
so try to make a quick 14 year old
female mothers on drugs uh fathers in prison
she runs away constantly runs across across this other 17 year old female and her boyfriend who's about
21 at the time due to them all hanging out and
just enjoying life the 17 year old female elicits the 14 year old female to start
posting pictures and engaging in commercial sex and basically trying to sell her online
and uh make money off her so
we ended up getting both the girlfriend and the boyfriend because he was he was
working with his girlfriend at the time and the update I have on that is the female
who's 19 now she's uh just been convicted and sentenced to five years in
prison uh the male part he's still awaiting trial but
I call that that's a victory and uh
can't believe you know 17 year old females are out there you know preying on younger ones so that's all I have
thank you all right next we'll hear from Tarrant
County Sheriff's Office and detective Clark good morning
um my name is Melinda and I'm with the trafficking unit and some of these are not my cases so I'm gonna read my notes
um in the past month we spoke with a female victim who made an outcrowd during a previous Outreach operation and
investigator spoke with the female victim multiple times since the operation but the female was not ready
to make an outcry recently the female victim was contacted again and she identified her trafficker
impossible a second trafficker she also mentioned six other females that she believed to be trafficked by the same
trafficker so we're currently work on on locating the 60 Mills to interview them and if they make out cries then we'll
open an additional investigations um also there was an investigation last
year in which a trafficker was arrested um a second victim from the trafficker
was located and spoken to the female victim made an outcrypt that the same trafficker recently contacted her and
was trying to get her to go work for him again the outcome was generated a new
investigation which will more than likely lead to additional charges against that trafficker
um arecac investigators working on multiple cases that involve child pornography he is currently working on
search warrants for those residents to collect all electronic equipment this past week I had the opportunity to
reach out to non-female victims from our last operation one of the females returned my message talked about the
struggles that she was having and we plan on meeting with the advocate and her to see what else we can offer her
I'm sure there's something else that I left out but right now we're just currently trying to catch up on cases
fall cases and prepare for Ops for the next month
all right and now it's time for our main presentation very excited to introduce Landon Dixon
he is a licensed professional counselor with a focus on trauma-informed interventions Landon completed his
bachelor's in psychology with a minor in Neuroscience from Texas A M University then pursued his graduate education at
the University of North Texas where he obtained a master's in clinical mental health counseling
Landon has experience treating trauma across the lifespan in a variety of settings including inpatient residential
risk of harm assessment suicide loss outpatient and support groups he has
been trained in equine and animal assisted counseling EMDR DBT talk
therapy cssrs and a variety of supplementary approaches Landon is honored to serve
the animals and people who seek help at Ranch hands rescue as he quotes I do not see individuals as
good or bad nor as defined by their diagnosis I see individuals as coping with wounds to the best of their ability
it is my belief that together we can uncover new ways to thrive not simply
survive May introduce Landon Dixon thanks for having me I know some of you in the room
but not everybody um so like I said I'm Landon Dixon I'm the executive director for ranch hands
rescue and Bob's House of Hope uh the most relevant thing for this group is Bob's House of Hope is the first safe
house in the country for young men 18 and up who have been sex trafficked and um we're rapidly moving towards
expansion which is exciting because we know the need is there and as the film that was highlighted uh it's one of the
first to show that males are also trafficked and so it's uh we're we're seeing movement in that space which is
really excellent but it's still vastly underreported and um underseen under heard under under understood and that's
part of the point of this presentation when I was asked to come here today is to talk about this particular topic
complex trauma and overlooked populations it's about an hour and a half presentation and I got about 30 minutes so I'm gonna Buzz through it
real quick so keep up um but the main thing that I want to highlight is the the males and the other
overlooked populations and how they're impacted by trafficking and other traumas so I'm just going to go through
this part to let y'all read and then I'll just I'll talk over it um so one of the first things that I
want to highlight about about trauma and particularly about um males and other overlooked populations is that while all of these
things are the same no matter who you are they're going to look a little different across the different populations and I give you a really good
example We rescued a young man who was trafficked on the streets of Denton and he had a IQ below 70 and also uh autism
and so when we recovered him he said that the people who trafficked him he
called them bullies and he said his favorite thing about the safe house was that it's a bully free zone well I don't
know about y'all but when I hear bully I don't think sex trafficker right but that's what he meant that's what he was
referring to as people who sexually victimized him and so even though the
trauma was the same for him and the impact of it and how it affected him personally was the same as it would be
for somebody who was neurotypical his reporting of it his presentation of it looked different and that's part of what
I'm wanting to highlight today talking about these populations is how the same thing you may see before or know about
from your understanding of trauma and complex trauma looks different in these we'll say special populations or
overlooked populations so how trauma affects people I think we
should all we're all more or less familiar with um the process of trauma and how it impacts individuals what I
really want to highlight from this and what you'll see here in a minute is that those with complex PTSD which is you
know they've been through multiple traumas over multiple years so every victim you encounter
um they will have potentially present with all of these things not just some of them and you will have a for those of
you who are clinicians in the room you will often see a variety of diagnoses um in their history even though it's
really just trauma but people have labeled them with bipolar schizophrenia borderline personality disorder
um the list goes on you'll see some case examples here in a minute um we use a trauma assessments that's
one of the main things that we do and I highly recommend if you have the ability in the access you get the assessment for
the victims that you encounter because it really helps reveal what's actually going on and and what they need because
these assessments especially the ones on the left they take time so it's not the
15 minutes in the psych hospital with the psychiatrist no offense to them but you can't diagnose something like this
in 15 minutes especially if somebody's been using drugs which as you all know every single one of these victims does
it one time or another been addicted to a substance or been struggling with substance abuse how could you not
um and so if somebody's that active in their addiction there's no way to give an accurate diagnosis they they have to
be clean and sober for her to get one for us to get one so that's what I talk about there
um all right so I mentioned this like I said I'm moving fast so uh treatment resistant personality disorders like if
you look at all these symptoms like they're just survival
mechanisms when you're countering trauma right like these are just the ways that people survive and the way that they
um react when they experience repeated trauma repeated abuse so if that's
happening to you during your early stages of life like developmental stages as a kid and an adolescent it becomes
encoded as part of who you are like it just becomes part of your personality right so the the challenge is these
individuals may present as um as I've heard others Define as
frustrating because it's like why don't you just X or why you keep going back to why it's like well if you look at it
from a trauma-informed lens it becomes quite clear it becomes quite obvious how that can happen and how a person will
continue to go back to something that that is obviously harmful to them and that's I think part of the frustration
and part of the challenge for those who just want to do good for these populations is especially males because
they just get labeled as bad kids I can't tell you well I can tell you actually 100 of the young men who have
come through our house or through our survivor advocacy program which at this point is over 30. um they every single one has reported
that they've had encounters with law enforcement they've had encounters with parole with school boards or not school
boards but you know the what do you call it the um disciplinary committees and stuff at schools like everything you can
imagine where they were just told we don't believe you you're a bad kid you
know nobody asked about trauma or trafficking for them I know this happens to women as well and I don't want to
downplay that do not get me wrong that is horrific um I'm highlighting a separate
population and like I said what we've seen like consistently is that they're being
told that um they weren't victims that nothing they're saying happened to them actually
happened they're just bad kids and have never been asked and that's been a consistent report across every single
one of them and in some cases the the convergence of diagnoses are just outlandish from a clinical perspective I
mean one young man was was diagnosed with idd intellectual and developmental disability he came into our safe house
we did testing and assessment with him it's not because IQ is like 95.
he's not he he doesn't have a mental deficiency he has dyslexia
um and he has uh he and he's been through trauma which disrupts the inability to function intellectually but
he doesn't have idd and we keep encountering this where especially our minority populations are diagnosed
with really severe disorders that they don't actually have and that often lumps
them into categories that prevents them from getting the proper treatment and that's part of what I'm trying to
demystify here in this conversation is that you know just because somebody presents with those diagnoses it may not
be entirely accurate especially if you haven't explored for a trauma history all right so here's what I'm talking
about and this is where I really want to kind of highlight things is if you look through I mean these aren't
obviously real individuals they're um they're pseudo cases but they're
reflections of real cases right real people who have these combinations like
I have seen this in my clinical practice somebody with all of these diagnoses it's not possible for anybody who's a
clinician you'll know as soon as you see that that's not possible you can't have all those conflicting diagnoses because
one of the things you're supposed to do is rule out rule out other diagnoses things that are better explained by X so
when something's better explained by say PTSD okay well then maybe major
impressive disorder generalized anxiety disorders get so effective antisocial personality maybe those aren't the case
maybe it's the PTSD and if you address that so but for the PTSD you wouldn't
have the others right and that's what we're seeing time and time again especially with these with uh males with
internet Divergent populations with minority groups and with indigenous youth and those are some of the
populations that we're encountering and trying to you know demystify or change
normalize how we interact with these groups because it's it's whoops let me
do that um oh it's because this one also does it got it um all right so
I think I'll get my point there so when it comes to males uh you may be surprised about the statistic up to 50
of sex traffic youth are male so one of the things I was asked to talk about is how we came to that number
um and that's a really fair question so the the background on it is is kind of twofold one I started doing research on
this uh when our founder and CEO Bob Williams asked me to about three four years ago and what I found was
complete lack of data and the data that's there was all over the board it went from two percent all the way up to
67 where of traffic dudes were males like well that's not possible you can't have both of those extremes so we
started you know kind of expanding our search making it Global local National Global Etc and one of the things that we
that we found as we were doing more research is one nobody or very few
have actually identified males in their sample people they've captured
male uh statistics by accident so they happen to be caught up in a female study
or they happen to self-identify when a particular study was underway and they
just happened to therefore be in the sample pool so what I mean by that is that two percent or you know even up to
like 10 that could just be guys that happen to be at a particular program while they were doing the study who came
forward and self-identified well one of the things that we've noticed with males is they're even less likely to
self-identify as a victim than a female is now understandable in this space right that people don't self-identify as
victim it's hard for any of us to identify that way but with males to give you another example a young man that was
with us it took six months in our program for him to identify as having
been a victim of sex trafficking that's a hard reality to swallow right so if you're talking about you're you're in
this temporary thing for let's say five days and somebody throws a form in front of you and says fill this out honestly
how many are going to honestly report right um but as as research has been done so
the second part as more research has been done and sting operations conducted by the police that Target males as
victims we're seeing the number go up rapidly so for example did a study and
issued it in 2019 that put uh sex traffic youth 36 percent as male then
ekpat International they also did a study I think it was 2021 when it came out it's called Ann Boys 2 and that one
says 38 both report that it's that or both say that it's vastly underreported and we've had sting operations and one
of the first was actually Fort Worth PD so good on where they arrested 10 men and four out of the ten were looking for
boys under 15. that's 40 percent right here right it's one example but it
doesn't change the fact that that's the pattern we're seeing as law enforcement actively looks for males they're seeing
way more so the issue was we just weren't seeing them because we either they weren't asking the question or B
didn't have the tools necessary to ask the right questions and to pursue the leads so an example on that front uh we
were invited into a an operation with Dallas PD and they took us to command center showed us all the you know all
the um software and everything that they're doing and we actually had a law
enforcement Summit up at the safe house where we found a couple of big challenges one law enforcement hasn't
been given a software tool that identifies females and the same patterns that are excuse me males in the same
pattern that it does females so they can track add infinitum on female uh online
activity but not male and that's a problem right that's an update on the software that needs to happen and then
the other thing I believe is the icac system if I'm not mistaken uh it may be a different Reporting System doesn't
actually ask for uh gender so you can't you don't specify you just have age and
you have all the things that happen but you don't have the actual gender so the statistics are again going to be
misconstrued or misleading because we don't have all the information so we don't have accurate information so this
is where we come up with this up to 50 percent is because we're seeing this pattern of it ever increasing as the
target of males is brought to the Forefront we don't know the actual number though that's the thing right
nobody knows the actual number and the other thing I would highlight is the see it tool that's been rolled out the
number of possible concerned cases skyrocketed once it was issued that you
know this needs to go out to everybody I mean it's in the thousands immediately right so we know the numbers are a lot
higher we just have to get better at identifying so oh I gotta add myself there you go so
um all right so our GB glpt Q Plus youth um man it breaks my heart every time but I
mean upwards of 40 or more of our wtq plus youth have experienced homeless at some point in their life well we all
know that homelessness is a huge risk for trafficking right so this has been a
a constant challenge that all the statistics have shown that this population is at incredibly high risk
for trafficking uh one interesting side note that that we've that's been very surprising to us in the State House is
I'd say about 70 70 75 percent of the young men young men that have come through our program once they gain some
stability and they're no longer being forced to do things uh sexually to survive then
like I said 70 75 have identified as heterosexual um they previously when they first came
in identified as gay or bisexual but when they then had the choice for themselves and to explore their own
identity they've changed it and said I'm actually heterosexual I just did this because I had to or like this is how I
this is how I dealt with what was happening to me was just to tell myself this
um now again that's just guys in the house it's anecdotal that's not researched but it's been a very surprising Trend that we didn't expect
to see based on the research um so I think most everyone's probably
familiar with the the risks here one thing that I do want to highlight is
um the suicide risk for this population um though it could have been trafficked are 84 percent more likely to attempt
suicide than other youth um who have not been trafficked and I
want to really highlight those words the way I said them because our youth
unfortunately suicide is now the second leading cause of death for those 15 to 24. so what I'm pointing out here is
that the risk for youth Dying by Suicide being suicidal is significantly higher
and it's climbing because it used to be I think fourth leading cause of death and third second and for this population
it's 84 over that so we really don't know how many youth who have been
trafficked we're losing to Suicide or identified as an overdose uh victim but
was in fact a suicide death it's horrifically tragic in in every respect
but it's something I want to highlight because we need to be aware of the truth of what these young people are going through and if they're presenting in any
kind of service whether it's a psych hospital or law enforcement or Service Agency whatever it is we need to be
asking these questions and probing deeper to find out what's going on and what brought them there because it there
may be something deeper than what appears on the surface so those are disabilities I've mentioned
this a couple of times but I want to highlight those with severe disabilities six times more likely to be sexual
six times that's exponential and
you see I've got this like I mean the risk is is incredibly High there there's
a there's another statistic that I've pulled this from um to create this and try to explain it
that roughly two percent of the population will be trafficked at some
point in their life only 300 million plus people that's a lot of people and it's horrific it should be zero percent
but but for those with severe disabilities mental or physical it jumps
up to 12 percent 12 percent of those with disability of severe disabilities will be trafficked
so I'm not talking about the risk I'm talking about having been identified as
trafficked now if you think about what I've been saying up to this point I'm talking about how little data there is
how difficult you know how much of a hard time we are having tracking it being aware of it knowing about it
catching it you know getting all those people identified they're identified
so we know they've been trafficked that's just awful and that's part of why
I was asked here to highlight this is because I don't think we're talking enough about the trafficking of our
disabled Youth and we've had some wonderful conversations with our law enforcement Partners who say especially undercover Partners who are saying we
see this a lot especially with autism but they they make poor historians because of the challenges that they have
because of the neurodivergence and so they're not able to be identified as easily and they're not able to make
cases because the reports are so inaccurate and so all over the place and the young man I mentioned before it's a
good example of that right if you hear bully you don't think sex trafficker I know I don't
um but also excuse me he ended up having to do his outcry at the Children's Advocacy Center
and they just they did us a favor to me he wasn't an adolescent he wasn't a child he was an adult but they said okay
under these circumstances yeah we'll do the forensic interview and so there's we
got to kind of think outside the box when it comes to identifying these populations and addressing their unique
needs because the other challenge for this population is where do they go
um there was a report from the Houston Chronicle I think 2021 maybe 22.
um that said there's 200 000 neurodivergent individuals in Texas alone waiting for housing opportunities
waiting for care opportunities we managed to get our young man into one of those Long-Term Care Homes but it took
us a year and a half and it took a team of people advocating on his behalf judges case managers therapists CEOs
like it took a lot of work to make that happen um and I can't imagine what it's like
for those who don't have that level of advocacy behind them right and that level of documentation I mean we had to
file this thick to make it happen so I'm just trying to highlight that there's an
extreme lack of research assessment and awareness on these populations and we need to change that because they're
being victimized at a higher rate than anyone else and it's not getting enough attention
um same with males so this is the other part of it which hopefully is the Hope part is what you can do about it so
before I go into that does anybody have any questions about what I've talked about so far want to be mindful of time yeah
um she said she said this on board you don't realize they're being able to
support you and that suggests that there's a collaring problems that will continue
to hear about could you please give a couple examples of situations in which a boy might not
realize that is a great question um
the assumption is is faulty though um the young man in question he had
video evidence text evidence phone calls um he pictures he had ample evidence
there there was no question in our minds what had happened and it still took him
six months and being in our program and meeting with law enforcement and being in therapy still took six months
so even if it is obvious they're still not they still have a hard time
grappling with the reality of what has happened um and you can't push it on them you
can't force it you can't say no this is what happened to you um because it it's a it's a personal
Journey you can't force that on somebody um but some less obvious examples
um is the online thing that we mentioned earlier um who was it that mentioned that but the Internet safety piece is
huge especially with our males um because a lot of it's coming through um gaming chats and things that you
wouldn't necessarily expect it's not some clearly explicit site um but that being said there are
explicit sites out there and I I have a running list that we're developing uh to help law enforcement because sometimes
there's I mean you close down one and what 15 20 more pop up right so it's it's a constantly evolving process but
the online exploitation especially chats um that's a big one uh these fetish
groups um you know I mean to teach their own with consenting adults and whatnot but
there's a lot of that going on where they're they're getting attention for something shameful or that they perceive
as shameful and problematic about them and they're getting positive attention and so they don't see it as a problem
but they're actually trafficking themselves via the third party app so it
is commercial sexual exploitation it's just in this case the app or the website is the draftker rather than a human
being right um and then another example is the the Romeo trap
right so probably everybody in this room is fairly familiar with that concept that does happen to males as well and
happens to males way more often than people think nearly every single one of the young men that have come in have
said that yeah I thought he was my friend or I thought she was my friend or you know I thought they were that we
were in a relationship and then it just kind of escalated right um and then what we've seen
kind of side by side with that is you know you uh the detective mentioned that case where the the older female to the
younger female we've seen that as well either male or female towards the person where in order to survive in the world
of victimization they then traffic another person and so that luring in
process is never obvious at first right it takes time to understand or it takes time building to that which
you know it highlights something else uh just as a side note um all of us are in the service industry
or that are serving these youth however in whatever capacity we need to be mindful of our our language when talking
to them about the services we're going to provide and offer because if you think about it from their point of view
no traffic or no abuser starts out being abusive like nobody would get pulled in
right nobody would be reeled in if you just start getting hit right out of the gate so they typically there's a tip not
always but typically there's a grooming process right and it starts with promises and it starts with saying
things like I'll give you a place to stay I give you food I can do this I'll give you that I'll get you back to school all the same things we say
because we mean it but they've heard this before so those again
that long history of trauma the first thing that goes up is oh alert right I don't know if I can trust this and so
it's just it's something we need to be mindful of that you know because somebody's pushing us away may not be
because they don't want out or they don't want help it's because we're presenting it in a way that they've seen before that is causing the alarm bells
to go off because of what they've been through right um so hopefully that helps answer that
question a bit um okay so what what I'm talking about here and this is where where I think it's
it's actually a good segue what we're just talking about is you can read all this but the main thing
I want you to focus on is these three so I talk about this quite a bit because of the work we do with our animals this was
this is tadoka and this was uh after we uh lost Moon Dancer he was a 35 year old
donkey who had survived cancer five times we had to remove an eye uh and he
but he survived the cancer he had he was 35 years old like said way up there for
a donkey but they had been best friends for like a decade you know and so he was struggling I mean he was panic attacks
and he on Yelling every day he was really having a strong brief reaction
understandably that's his best friend and has been for a decade so um what what I did and what you have to
do with people animals whoever it is establish safety because if you don't feel safe you can't trust You're Not
Safe you're not gonna trust so then once that safety is established building that trust which you know he didn't feel safe
because it was it just happened so it took time right to get to this point um even though he'd been in our program
for however long right he just it dysregulated him understandably so and then once that trust was rebuilt then I
could connect and the connection is what ultimately leads to Healing because it's only in relationships that healing
happens so you have to have safety in order to have trust you have to have trust in order to have connection in
order to heal you have to have connection and where this becomes really really important as well is that for all
of the individuals that we're coming in in touch with or in contact with that's
also where the harm happened is in relationship somebody pseudo you know
falsely created a sense of safety trust and connection and then took advantage of them and exploited them and anybody
who's worked with this population knows exactly what I'm talking about here that the abandonment and the Betrayal is
often worse than the trauma itself um I'm not minimizing the trauma I'm
speaking straight from what I've been told from the survivors that I've worked with for years it's that abandonment and
that betrayal piece that's often even worse than the actual physical assault itself and it just speaks to how deep
those connection wounds are and how much work there is to overcome it for these
individuals and so us as providers establishing that sense of safety and
trust it's often going to take time and it's going to take a lot of work on our part to recognize how we're presenting
right and how we're giving them those opportunities or taking them away
and that speaks to the common mistakes I see all of us make myself included right
and I mean I'm mentioning this down here normalizing it you know it that's the
first thing I do if somebody's feeling ashamed about something normal when you know their their teeth are bad because they
haven't had dental care in a long time they feel ashamed well you know I try to normalize that and help them feel like
they're not alone and that it's not terrible and there's nothing wrong with them well normalizing that's something
that an abuser does in order to groom them and get them ready to do something add to them and take advantage of them
I don't know that there's a way to get away from that it's just something for us to be aware of and oftentimes just
vocalizing it is enough just saying our awareness of the thing is enough for the
person to see the difference right um and so these are the kind of things where you know it's just we all got to
take a look at ourselves and think through um you know where where am I impeding
the development of safety for this person especially bearing in mind that safety may look different for somebody
who's been through so much trauma um namely a calm environment that might
actually bring up some fear right because that's what happened before the trauma was the calm Calm before the
storm so to speak so just thinking through you know what can we do what can't we do where where are those lines
um I kind of already touched on this I wouldn't mind for my time uh I'd love to
tell you all more about all that uh I've kind of touched on that self-safety is not physical safety uh
so safety and stabilization so that's where I'll I'll I think end it and ask
for questions is that um making sure that we provide all these
things uh consistently freely where we're as much as we're able uh which I
know takes a lot of work and a lot of Partnerships to make that happen but you know not
not requiring something in exchange whatever that might be because that's always been the case in the past they've
had they've you know survival sex is exchanging sex for a place to stay or food or water you know like we have to
say yes we're going to do this and then do it and do it rapidly so that's the other piece of this that I think is
really important to recognize is that we got to move fast so when these youth come into our programs whatever those
programs may be and we say we're going to do all these things we'll if I if I've been sexually abused and
physically traumatized and mentally traumatized from a young age now I'm a teenager or a young adult and I've
actually found a way to make money doing doing something that even though I don't like it I've gotten used to now I can
make money doing it which allows me to buy cool stuff and allows me to buy drugs and drugs have been the only thing
that have prevented the pain from creeping in either physical or mental or
emotional um and let's say for example that I've got you know a tooth problem a toothache
I've got real example glass embedded in my feet that's healed over and so it hurts to walk okay now this person that
I don't know that doesn't look like me is asking me to come into a program that is going to provide all these things
it's going to be all these people that I don't know and it's an indeterminate amount of time and I can't leave and I
don't have money anymore and I'm being asked not to do the drugs okay
it's a big ask first off second off if if that person that's providing those
things doesn't immediately act on all the things they say they're going to provide and doesn't get the foot taken
care of and the tooth taken care of and get me to school and everything what am I going to do run
why would I peace out why would I not right I'm gonna run of course I am so
it's important to recognize that and that's why I say tolerance for relapse seven times because the average number
of times somebody will run from a safe house program is seven average time somebody will relapse is seven so it's
just it's built into the process of recovery that we need to have tolerance for relapse regardless of who we're
serving but recognizing that just because somebody's relapsing doesn't mean they're a bad kid doesn't mean that
they're wrong or or that there's no help for them at the treatment resistant it just means that we need to have a little
more patience for their process all right um
so yeah bearing in mind time what other questions do we have well just kind of slowly click through this so people can
read as as questions come are there any there anything for the federal agencies that we can petition to
have more effective and safe facilities for these teams cool that's a big question
um so first things first uh our program currently is 18 and up all right so
adults technically adults but not really um I would I would venture to say that nobody's an adult until after 24 because
that's when the brain stops developing but that's a different conversation um so
yes state and federal I mean just our legislative Partners right our Senators our Representatives Etc
um our health and human services Partners um but the reason I highlight that we're focused on males is at least at present
there is not a certification process for adult Safe House programs there is for
minors but for adults nothing so technically speaking I could tell you the name
social security number phone number date of birth everything about the people in my care
nothing to stop me from doing that legally not going to right because that would be wrong but there's nothing
legally prohibiting me from doing that and so one of the problems that we one of the challenges in this space that
we've seen is recruiting so we're somebody who is still being trafficked enters a safe house program and tries to
recruit people in that program back into the life we've also seen some stories where
um traffickers have opened a safe house and um exploited through that and we've also
seen where uh they infiltrate the program and then abuse people while
they're in the program uh and that that is a big challenge in this space and so we do a whole bunch of stuff like FBI
background checks fingerprints you know constant supervision um constant training uh we had a really
great training here recently from Kerry um so I mean it's just it's a constant vigilance thing uh on the ground boots
on the ground wise because they infiltrate all levels right traffickers and abusers but as far as
advocating for change again I would say all of our lawmakers are policy makers uh writing to the task forces they
they're making some movement right now around um um what is it called
decriminalizing certain offenses for youth who have been victimized and
committed a crime in the midst of what happened right so to give you an example there was a person that came into our
program who had uh stolen a car had a felony car uh probably felony hanging
over their head for stealing a car and that wasn't theirs and driving it without a license right
um they did that at the the Hest and the pressure of the person trafficking them
so it's like is that really fair because it's a four it's that's a forced choice like yeah could you choose not to do
that sure but did you really have a choice no right and so lawmakers
policymakers are seeing the the chain seeing that and recognizing that especially uh in light of certain uh
drug convictions where the victim is getting a longer sentence in prison than
the traffickers that's a problem so there is change happening in those on those spaces and
on those fronts so I would say reaching out to the task forces writing letters to lawmakers
yeah that's a really good question um it does and it doesn't uh it's um how
do I explain that like yeah we we lay it out so the the short answer is is yes we
provide fully informed consent so everything we do we we break it out and really give them all the details often
multiple times because it's what it needs to be processed and internalized right but
um as far as the actual funding source I mean sometimes we might say donations other times we might say State funding
or you know grants um because it is a variety of all those sources right I mean we have individual
uh donors people that donate monthly or one at one time we have people that are State uh we uh or we have state funding
we have private foundations so I mean yeah we we tell them that it comes grant funding essentially and donations
yes sir okay
that is a great question as well so um that's a big challenge and it takes a lot of repetition once
again um what we actually put together is a 90-day curriculum that combines the
12-step model DBT which is dialectical behavioral therapy our equine animal assist to the counseling model and uh a
program called unhushed out of Austin that is about sexual recovery and it's geared towards that like six to uh like
sixth grade to nine tenth grade range we fused all those together and so they go
to it's basically like an intensive outpatient program they go to group once a day five days a week they have
counseling twice a week and then we have um crisis sessions and lives Christ
sessions as needed and then life skills group also every day of the week so I mean they're getting essentially what is
that 10 11 hours of programming every week and we address all those different
topics and boundaries is a big one that we come back to in multiple ways including things like hygiene because a
lot of them don't know how to properly brush their teeth or how to you know clean themselves or clean a bathroom or
a floor you know whatever and so that comes down to you know hygiene boundaries and you know unique unique
challenges that you wouldn't necessarily think you need to address but you do because they've never had anybody teach
them those things so the short answer is we we pull from DBT to Institute
boundaries the longer answer is we build it into everything that we do because
it's a constant learning opportunity that's that's how I set up the program is that just cooking a meal together can
be a learning opportunity and that can involve something as simple as respect my space that's a boundary right because
they won't they won't they'll just charge in and grabs and do whatever they want or we're going to eat at this time
and we're going to eat together as a family or as a team however you want to term it rather than just getting
whatever you want whenever you want you know what I mean so it's little things like that as well as the big full-on
um we never disclosed the total number uh but what I will say is that our program um has been full since we opened
um there's been some fluctuations but we have found that five to six is a good
range for a single house yes
don't have that number wish I did but I don't um one thing I can tell you is that
anecdotally we're seeing that that's a big challenge with males um and I think that's I think that might
be part of why we're having trouble identifying them as victims is because they're being identified as perpetrators when in fact they're both
um because part of survival was hypnization um and so that's where boundaries become
very important in the safe house and one of the physical boundaries you've probably seen in this the things that
I've talked about that I just built in we have individual rooms single-use
bathrooms the common areas all have uh cameras we have 24 7 staff I mean that
way there's cons the the ability to cross that kind of boundary is very limited
like this and we've not had an incident of that uh where somebody actually physically assaulted or sexually
assaulted another Resident um that would be grounds for dismissal um and we we've had some that have
pushed the boundary and we've had to make you know Hardline decisions but
um it doesn't change the fact that um at the end of the day we really don't have those numbers and we're still
trying to pull that data together
we are thank you so much guys this has been an amazing
presentation and I know that we didn't get to all the questions so please feel free to email me and I will make sure
that we get those questions to Landon afterwards um if you want a copy of that how can I
help list it's also going to be in the follow-up email thank you for coming out this month take
a moment um say hi to Landon after the meeting and we will see you all next month