At the ground level, and in a position to assist trafficking survivors and their kin are people like Sarah Edstrom, a certified sexual assault advocate at the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center. The MIWRC is nonprofit social and educational services organization providing education and support to American Indian women and their families. The organization maintains a Section 8 housing program, provides mental health and other support services to sex trafficking survivors, at-risk youth as well as numerous other programs for the Native community.
According to Edstrom, trafficking survivors may act out. They may be angry, loud, have bad attitudes and resist the tag of victim. They may use drugs or alcohol or both. They may have warrants out against them or histories of violent crime—or both. They may display a stubborn loyalty for an abusive pimp and refuse to bring charges against him. All of this comes with surviving ‘the life.’ Often, they end up getting kicked out of traditional women’s shelters serving homeless, domestic or sexual violence victims; they go back to exchanging sex for a place to sleep, food to eat and drugs to numb themselves.