We cannot look away from the violence occurring at our country’s border and the children and families at the center of what many are calling the worst humanitarian crisis in our history. In 2017, the organization Freedom For Immigrants filed a federal complaint with the Office for Civil Rights & Civil Liberties within the Department of Homeland Security detailing the prevalence of reports of sexual abuse, assault, and harassment in U.S. immigration detention facilities and the lack of adequate government investigation into these reports. Significantly, more complaints were submitted against Immigrations & Customs Enforcement (ICE) than any other DHS component agency. Of the total number of complaints, 44.4% (or nearly 14,700 complaints) were lodged against ICE.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has received over a thousand allegations of sexual abuse against unaccompanied minors in HHS custody every year. These reports of children and youth raped while in detention should shock and alarm us. There were at least 49 allegations of sexual abuse involving adult caregivers in U.S. facilities reported to the Justice Department in both fiscal years 2017 and 2018. Yet, our current Federal Administration has not responded or has concealed this data and refuses to investigate or prosecute.
Along with children are families and many others at risk of sexual violence. Just as the 2019 June Pride Month kicked off, a 25-year-old trans woman from El Salvador named Johana Medina Leon died just a few days after being released by Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) from a packed immigration jail in El Paso, Texas. Her death followed that of Roxsana Hernández, a 33-year-old trans woman from Honduras who died after being held in a privately run immigration jail in New Mexico last year, bringing worldwide attention to the dire conditions in U.S. immigration jails.
What can we do? We can learn more and support organizations helping those at risk.
Here are some of those organizations:
American Civil Liberties Union
The Florence Project
Freedom for Immigrants
We are very excited to introduce you to our new
Survivor Services Manager, Nani Swaminathan
(they/them & she/her)!
Holding a Master of Social Work at the Erikson Institute in Chicago, Nani is proud to return home to Lowell to work at The Center for Hope and Healing. They hope to support and advocate for survivors in their journeys toward healing while fostering compassion and strength within CHH’s Survivor Services Team. Nani believes, that by centering the voices of the historically marginalized and oppressed in the movement to eradicate violence, we can change systems and repair the pain and hurt that have spread through generations.
Nani has previously worked in counseling, program development, education, advocacy, community organizing, and looks forward to integrating their skills in these areas into their work with folx at CHH and beyond. Nani’s clinical work is rooted in cultural/relational practices, psychodynamic frameworks, and systems theories and they understand survivors and their families through an intersectional lens.
When Nani is not at work, they are often found reading on the couch with their cat Wilson Frisk, visiting breweries with their partner, or cooking up something new in their kitchen.
On Tuesday, June 11, we had the pleasure of celebrating 21 new volunteer advocates who graduated from our 40 Hour Training and are now Certified Rape Crisis Counselors. We couldn’t be more proud of our committed Volunteer Advocates and the great qualities they bring to HealingCorps.
As Rape Crisis Counselors, they will staff our 24 Hour Hotline and accompany survivors of sexual assault in the emergency room. We are looking forward to their growth and future with HealingCorps and The Center for Hope and Healing, Inc.
Thank you for supporting survivors.
If you are interested in becoming a HealingCorps volunteer click here to find out more information. Our next training begins on September 9.
QTBIPOC Survivor’s Retreat
On June 25, The Center for Hope and Healing and The Victim Rights Law Center held a groundbreaking, one-day healing retreat for queer, transgender, non-binary, intersex and/or gender non-conforming Black, Indigenous folks and other People of Color, who survived childhood rape and/or sexual assault.
Thank you to Amita Swadhin, founder of Mirror Memoirs, for joining us for this powerful healing circle.
5th Annual Family Festival: Sunday, August 25th!
On August 25, The Center for Hope and Healing, Inc. will transform Shedd Park into our own amusement park with games, water activities, live music, food, and raffles.
*New this year!*
A wellness fair! Festival vendors will be unified by a common theme of wellness and we will host community fitness classes throughout the day.