The NFNL counseling program addresses the needs of formerly trafficked teen girls in the Letot Girls’ Center and the Dr. Jerome McNeil Jr. Detention Center. Counselors lead weekly sexual abuse group therapy for an average of 30 teens. “This group acts as a catalyst for teens. Many express they have never felt able to trust anyone. Then, after sharing for the first time the truth of their experiences, they receive validation,” stated Stephanie Clanton, NFNL Counseling Program Coordinator. Teens are able to build relationships with one another within group settings through open communication about shared experiences, and are given creative and safe outlets to share traumatic experiences through art therapy.
These open discussions about common sex trafficking experiences provide a therapeutic benefit to the survivors, as well as serve as a significant intervention to prevent the exploitation of high-risk girls in the group. In January and February of this year, 83% of the girls requested additional individual counseling from NFNL counselors. While most start with declarations of not trusting anyone, especially counselors, the overwhelming majority now recognize their experiences, reveal them to others, and request ongoing help.