Top 10 Takeaways on Cultural Competency, As Told By Survivors

Updated: May 18


According to a 2020 report, 40% of trafficked women and children are African American, a statistically disproportionate number when compared to the percentage of Americans that are African American. Nearly 58% of juveniles arrested for prostitution were African American. Despite the fact that under federal law, a juvenile engaged in a commercial sex act is a victim of human trafficking, children of color are being criminalized for their exploitation.


Cultural competency is an integral part of restorative care and advocacy in the anti-trafficking movement.


Here are the Top 10 Takeaways on Cultural Competency, as told by Trafficking Survivors:


  1. Survivors of color are not met with appropriate cultural accommodations upon entry into client-serving organizations.

  2. The lack of culturally competent practices creates more hurdles for survivors of color as they attempt to shed what they learned through trauma and life versus what is an authentic representation of them within their culture.

  3. Culture encompasses more than just race. It also factors in issues related to gender, socioeconomic status, and location.

  4. There are sub-sects of culture within The Life. Traffickers often manipulate the viewpoints of these different trafficking cultures to elevate or degrade their victims.

  5. Cultural competency requires work on both sides to deconstruct biases that are based on real-life experiences to allow for intentional growth with a willingness to deconstruct the negative factors of those lived experiences.

  6. Representation matters at every part of an idea from conception to development to leadership in order to create programs and services that provide truly culturally competent and inclusive practices.

  7. A culturally diverse team is a must when serving survivors of trafficking. Creating this kind of team will likely be uncomfortable for everyone but it is a necessity.

  8. Many survivors have missed out on opportunities to learn about their own culture. Providing opportunities for this type of integration is a pathway for healing.

  9. Programs and client serving agencies that are representative of their clients have the ability to introduce traditionally cultural elements and practices that may have been lost to a survivor through their trauma.

  10. Our comments around a client’s cultural practices and cultural representation matter. Questions and seeking understanding serve clients better than avoidance and assumption.


During our Cultural Competency webinar, attendees had the opportunity to hear from these incredible leaders:


Saulo Ortiz, LCSW, Founder - Life Change Institute

Rachel Thomas, Director - Sowers Education Group

Dr. Marlene Carson, CEO and Founder - The Switch, Lived Experience Expert


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