By Holly Austin Smith — From her column Speaking Out in the Washington Times Communities
CORAL SPRINGS, FL, May 13, 2013 – Building working relationships with other advocates and organizations is important in any field of advocacy, including anti-human trafficking. Listening to and learning from others increases personal growth and perspective. Over the next few weeks, several advocates and organizations will share their ideas, efforts, and achievements. Readers are encouraged to reach out to interviewees in order to learn more about their philosophies, goals, and strategies.
This week’s featured survivor advocate is Katariina ‘Kat’ Rosenblatt, President & Founder of There Is H.O.P.E. For Me, Inc.
Kat, what would you say is your personal mission statement?
To help set the captives free from slavery. – Isaiah 61:1
How did you get involved with anti-human trafficking advocacy/speaking?
Overcoming experiences…myself [while] growing up here in South Florida: Once in a hotel on Miami Beach, once in my middle school in Miami, [once in] my apartment bldg.. and finally a false modeling scam. After getting out of an abusive marriage, I started sharing my testimony to girls within juvenile detention centers and public schools: the response was immediate! [Other survivors of abuse and sex trafficking] just started coming forward!
Please tell us about There is H.O.P.E. For Me.
We are a survivor-led and run organization looking to rescue and restore the lives of victims of abuse and human trafficking. Our efforts have been very successful, and we have a very high rate of success. With constant love and support, the girls don’t return to the life; they want to move from survivor to thriver and overcome!
What is your organization’s mission statement?
Conduct talks to survivors and potential victims of abuse and commercial sexual exploitation with the aim of bringing out children who have been victims, who are in the process of being recruited, or who are in danger of recruitment. We aim to raise leaders who have been victims of domestic minor sex trafficking to go and share their stories nationwide [in order to reach] children who may have been affected by human trafficking and to deter future trafficking of American children.
Are you working on any current projects?
We [offer] rescue and restoration [services to] domestic minor victims of sex trafficking, and [we] are building up an army of survivors to turn the tables on human trafficking. We hope to open our safe home soon to girls who have been commercially sexually exploited / trafficked and are [living] here in Broward County, Florida. We also offer a drop-in center [with] opportunities for tutoring, resume and skill building, Christian based one-on-one mentoring, [and a] life coaching program!
I personally am also finishing up my dissertation on the vulnerability factors associated with American survivors of DMST as well as a book [which] will be coming out shortly on my life story and our ministry.
Please share any recent or upcoming speaking events, awards, accomplishments, or experiences.
Please visit our website to see speaking engagements and trainings. We have recently trained ALL Miami Dade County Public School guidance counselors as well as Broward County pubic school counselors on what to look for within the public school system, taking real life examples of kids who we have helped. In addition, I do quarterly trainings to law enforcement from throughout the state of Florida on effective investigative techniques in combating human trafficking.
Did any organization or advocate play a significant role in your own healing / empowerment process?
Yes: Rev. Raúl Fernández-Calienes, Ph.D, Dr. iur Sigfried Wiessner, and Dr. iur Roza Pati with St. Thomas Law School; Marti Wibbels, M.S., L.M.H.C., P.A.; and Heath Evans Foundation. Also, Carmen Pino from the Department of Homeland Security who oversaw our South Florida Human Trafficking Task Force; [Carmen] helped give me courage and strength to keep going as well as those within law enforcement who are victim-centered and helping to make a difference.
What has been your greatest achievement or most meaningful moment while advocating against human trafficking?
Helping one of our girls come out of trafficking and being [called to] the very same police station that, just 24 years earlier, had [labeled] me a ‘juvenile delinquent’ and wouldn’t even take my statement, [let alone offer services. I am now called] to [train and collaborate with] law enforcement!
What message about human trafficking do you most want to communicate to the public?
It is everywhere, be aware, get involved.
How can the public help you with your plight?
Support our efforts, pray, give, serve.
What message would you like to pass to other survivor advocates and speakers?
Keep it up! Don’t lose heart in well-doing and, in the right time, the bible says you will reap a harvest! I know, I am living proof of a redeemed life!
Are there any other accomplishments you would like to mention? Have you published a book?
I am in my final dissertation stage for my PhD in Conflict Analysis & Resolution, and [I’m] also in the process of writing my memoirs that will hopefully come out soon!
How can people reach you or your organization for questions or more information?