Empower Her Network collaborates with ready survivors of human trafficking who find themselves in the same vulnerable circumstance that led to their initial exploitation by removing housing barriers, financing education, and uncovering employment opportunities.
Destination: Her choice.
For the ones who are ready, EHN clears a path to the future they design.
Empower Her Network exists to address an issue identified by immediate aftercare providers: Some survivors have to leave the program of shelter after 3-24 months without a realistic long-term economic alternative. These women present risk for re-trafficking, homelessness, and resorting to sex work. They need assistance tackling societal barriers surrounding housing, education, and employment to break exploitation and poverty cycles and remain forever free.
She was trafficked for years and never graduated high school. She stood out to her case worker in our partner program because she’s motivated to finish her education and start a career. She takes advantage of the opportunities given to her by the program she’s in, and has a tremendous amount of motivation and ambition. She also has to move out of her temporary living situation. She can afford rent, but has terrible credit because a trafficker used her identity. How can she find permanent housing? If she can’t, how will she keep her job without an address? She’s worked so hard and doesn’t want to be trapped in the system forever. Her case manager knew she’d be a perfect fit for Empower Her Network, could picture her getting her GED, maybe even going to college. She has the charisma and tenacity it takes to start this next chapter, she just needs help removing obstacles that seem impossible to overcome.
Empower Her Network collaborated with her on an 18 month Empowerment Plan that will remove the obstacles in her way and clear the path for independence. Because we were established to address a gap in services, demand is high and we work carefully with our partners to collaborate and create a plan forward.
Examples of Barriers to Address:
- Survivor has a job and can afford rent, but not the upfront last month/security deposit required
- Employed and mentally/physically ready survivor in a position to go back to school, who cannot afford the delta between financial aid and tuition
- Survivor with a specialty skill set from her home country that requires a certificate or license to practice in the United States
- There is a promising vocational path, but no financial aid offered to get the certificate
- Survivor has a skill set that requires equipment to leverage (i.e., seamstress)
Mentorship. Sisterhood. Expertise.
The key to EHN’s early and ongoing success is the determined and hardworking survivors in the program. Not everyone can rise above extreme trauma and chart their own course to a new, empowered future. But some can. Our process is rooted in its strong partnerships with residential shelters and program that nominate ready survivors. Empower Her Network’s local, trauma-informed Advocates collaborate with nominees on a self-determined Empowerment Plan that spans 12 to 18 months and focuses on housing solutions, financing education, and establishing steady wage employment. In line with best practices working with domestic violence survivors and homeless persons, EHN supports a permanent housing model and employment paths
that focus on the individual’s unique needs and plans.
This is not a Band-Aid charity or a handout. EHN’s innovative approach leans into existing services to eliminate overlapping resources while putting each survivor in the driver’s seat, often for the first time. It is true empowerment, with clinical support and guidance. The women we work with are motivated and ambitious. Our unique approach puts each survivor at the center of service, determining her own success.
Meet our founders— Kristy Norbert and Abby Fabiaschi . They are both believers in the power of economic solutions for vulnerable populations, and connected while working with an organization that provided funding to programs in Asia aimed at helping survivors of human trafficking achieve fiscal independence. Drawn together by shared core values and beliefs, when they realized an organization with the same mission didn’t exist domestically, they decided to build one. Kristy and Abby believe that:
Circumstance is all that separates us from those enslaved
Circumstances can be changed
Fiscal independence is key to breaking the cycle of exploitation
Readiness matters: a will for independence is essential
It is our duty to provide total financial transparency to our donor community
From the moment the concept was hatched, the universe was on our side. Christine Merser joined our board and donated all the marketing resources needed to build an organization from scratch (hint: it’s a lot); Liza Salzer from Lulu Frost designed a beautiful bracelet, launching last November, to help us gain awareness and raise money; donors banded together to fund our pilot program; shelters validated the need by immediately knowing survivors in a position to benefit from our program. All this is to say, it blossomed from an idea to reality because a great many people decided to make it so, and we couldn’t be more grateful. The future looks brighter already.