Streetlight USA is a Phoenix-based nonprofit that serves teenage girls suffering trauma due to sexual exploitation, abuse, and trafficking. When Yavapai Family Advocacy Center Victim Advocate Chita Olson first heard about Streetlight USA, she thought, “That’s nice – another home for girls.” But after visiting the organization in Phoenix, she realized that Streetlight USA is much more than just a shelter. It’s a collection of programs that truly helps victims of sex trafficking find the emotional, spiritual, and physical support they need to heal and feel safe. “I was so impressed by the lengths that are taken to assure a nurturing yet structured environment, attending to even the smallest of details,” Chita shared.
Last year, Chita partnered with Streetlight USA to help a young girl who needed the support of both organizations. Together, they helped this young girl who had concealed years of abuse in order to keep her family together. As the sexual exploitation became too much to bear, she bravely disclosed the horror of events that led the arrest of both her stepfather and mother. Although the sexual abuse stopped, her greatest fears also came true: Her family was gone, and so was the place she called home. When she was relocated to the safety of Streetlight USA’s programs and housing, Chita was a constant, bridging the gap between the girl’s life in Yavapai County and her new home at Streetlight USA in Phoenix.
Throughout her recovery, Chita cheered her on, reminding that only incredibly strong young women can go through what she went through and still be so kind and considerate of others. “She’s not a number or a statistic. She’s a beautiful girl who has gifts, talents, and strengths to offer the world around her,” Chita said. “I am confident that she will contribute greatly to her community and beyond.”
Skye Steele, chief executive officer of Streetlight USA, explained that collaboration with community providers are essential to their work. “Collaboration expands and enhances the services available to help survivors. Best practices like trauma-informed care, family systems models, survivor-led input, and Right to Self-Determination were all born out of service providers collaborating.”
Victim advocates like Chita are critical players in those collaborations. “Often, a victim advocate is the first person to provide a positive influence to the victim outside of the care facility. This provides the first step of trust and empowerment as the advocate helps survivors find their voice. Then, victim advocates can help build a bridge back to the community after they have received the therapeutic healing that they needed,” Skye said.
By highlighting the powerful work of Chita Olson, one of our very own victim advocates, we hope to highlight the work of victim advocates everywhere. Thank you for the strength that you provide to victims and the system that serves them.