Today we bring your the ED of Amirah, Stephanie Clark. We are asking her some of the most common questions she gets as she travels, engaging people in the community about Amirah, the work of aftercare, and becoming a part of the Amirah community that supports survivors on their journeys of liberation.
We hope that you enjoy this peak into some of the most common questions she receives as well as a closer glimpse into the work that Amirah does.
What does Amirah do specifically to help survivors of sex trafficking?
We are in the aftercare part of the wheel that is known as the Anti-Trafficking movement. This means that we are committed to working with women as they exit the cycle of sexual exploitation.
At Amirah, we offer every woman that comes into our home an individualized, trauma-informed, whole-person care approach program. This program is tailored to her specific trauma and goals for recovery in every aspect of her personhood.
How long does a program last for a woman?
Since it is an individualized program, it depends on the woman and what her particular goals are. Each woman first starts off with a commitment to 30-days. We are able to get her connected to services and offer stabilization within the first 30-days. After that, if she would like to continue on and enter into the full Amirah program, we offer her a spot. This program is designed to be somewhere in the range of 1-2 years, typically closer to 2-years because of the complex trauma that the woman is working through.
How does a survivor find out about Amirah and come into your program?
We receive referrals from the "boots on the ground," meaning our partners in local law enforcement, Federal law enforcement, prisons, hospitals, shelters, and even some churches (who have had a woman come in and identify as a victim). In 2016, we had 57 referrals come in; this year, we are already up to 20 referrals.
Once a woman has been referred to us, and if we have a bed coming available, our Program Director schedules a intake interview with the woman and the referral partner. The intake interview process is pretty extensive, allowing the woman to get to know us as well as giving us a chance to know her. We leave that interview process, assessing whether or not we are actually capable of providing services to the woman. If we are able and we have a bed available, then we will offer her a spot and work to get her entered into the 30-day program (our starting process into Amirah).
What are some of the greatest challenges you have faced in this work?
I don't think I was prepared for how much it would hurt when a woman chooses to leave her program pre-maturely. We have had women leave for a variety of reasons (drug addiction, mental health issues, returning to the life, etc.). These have been the hardest days I have ever faced - mostly because I love and care for these women so much. My heart is broken for their choice, and I am a bit lost as there is nothing that I can do to stop them from making that decision.
It is on those days that I remind myself of the women who have stayed. I pray for the one who has left, but I pour into those who remain. It is not an easy road they are walking; so I remind myself that my hardest day is a small glimpse into the mountain they face.
Why did you get into this work?
The short answer is God. I was an Associate Pastor on the North Shore until about 2-years ago. It was at the end of 2014/beginning of 2015 that I was beginning to really wrestle with what I was called to do. I prayed a ton and felt a peace about saying that I wasn't called to be a pastor, but I was called to work within the world of anti-trafficking. Within a week of me saying that out loud, I was being interviewed by Amirah for this position, and within a month, I was being hired.
So, the short answer is God. I'm a pretty big believer in the fact that when He calls you to do something, He will put everything into place - you just have to be courageous and take the steps.
What is one piece of advice you would give someone who wants to get involved in this work?
There is a fine line between compassion and the development of a "savior complex." I remind myself daily that there is no possible way that I can save these women; all I get to do is walk alongside them, offer them support and love them unconditionally.
This is all any of us can do. How you walk alongside them is up to you, your gifts, your talents, your time, your treasure. But when we have a community that does this, we see miracles happen.
If you have more questions for Stephanie, please feel free to send us an email. We will bring you more FAQ with other staff members. If you have questions, please email us.