The Client Services Office in New Jersey witnesses survivor strength and resilience on such a large scale that it routinely leaves staff and volunteers amazed and inspired. In an effort to acknowledge survivors’ triumphs, the New Jersey office created a Survivor Wall of Achievement. The wall serves to empower and encourage survivors to continue pursuing their goals and celebrate successes — no matter how big or small they may seem. Presently, the wall proudly showcases G.E.D. certificates, academic honor lists, vocational certifications, licenses, promotions, and employment offers.
This month, the Wall has two exciting new additions. The first includes Sue’s recent professional employment offer. Years ago, Sue worked as financial planner in Asia, but chose to relocate to the United States after recruiters promised her a higher paying position. Upon her arrival here, Sue’s documents were confiscated and she was taken to a remote home in a rural area. She was forced to work over 18 hours a day in deplorable conditions with little or no pay.
By chance, Sue escaped her trafficking situation and found refuge at a shelter in a nearby town. Sue obtained low-paying positions which did not question her lack of documentation. Two years later, Sue connected with an organization that identified her as victim of human trafficking and referred her to Polaris Project New Jersey. It was then that Sue was able to file for a T-Visa and receive authorization to work in the United States. After only 1 month of searching, Sue was offered a position as a financial auditor!
The second addition to the Wall of Achievement includes Tanya’s acceptance into nursing school. Tanya was trafficked at a young age, forced to provide commercial sex, and experienced extreme violence at the hands of her trafficker. Eventually, federal law enforcement agents found her and referred her to Polaris Project New Jersey. After working tremendously hard to overcome her trauma and receiving educational assistance, she resolved to become a nurse so she could help others. She received her G.E.D. certificate a few months ago and began applying to nursing schools. She received her first acceptance letter last week!
Both Sue and Tanya’s perseverance to overcome their trauma inspires everyone who comes in contact with them. This includes staff, fellows and volunteers, but most importantly, other survivors. The wall fosters a supportive community and motivates other survivors to continue working towards their goals. Survivors see first-hand that their goals are not only possible at some point in the future, but readily attainable.