"She packed up all her items, turned in her key and left."
What an exciting week already, and it’s only Tuesday. Reports have come in that a shelter resident has been meeting men who have driven by and seen her sitting outside. Staff has noticed her provocative clothing as she says sunbathing helps her diagnosis of MS. This may be the reason – BUT……in front of the shelter, where women have come to us to escape situations just like this is not acceptable. Some women are escaping abuse of all kinds, including victims of sex trafficking, drugs, alcohol, or mental illness, all of which often go hand in hand. Today as I drove up to the shelter at 9am, as usual, she was at the back of the building in her bikini. This time I noticed a man sitting in his car across the street – the same man that picks her up and gives her a ride to work, and I was well aware that he was probably watching her. I stood in my office and watched for a while, and she did get in the car with him. She came back with a bag of stuff from the store. She then made her way to the staff offices stating that she was going to live in a tent at the fairgrounds until Monday at which time she would have a place to stay. She packed up all her items, turned in her key and left.
"I truly believe that if Minot had an enforcement team to help these women that are victims of
sex trafficking, we could all work together."
Stories just like this happen often. Sometimes I am not 100% sure it is happening, but more often than not, I am pretty sure I know exactly what is going on. However, how do you approach that person and say hey, “I know what you are doing, and I can help you.” Some women can be very stand-off ish while they are here, or are hard to approach or don’t come to staff for help other than bus tokens. I truly believe that if Minot had an enforcement team to help these women that are victims of sex trafficking, we could all work together. I could have called law enforcement or an advocate to come and just watch the behavior and attempt to approach this woman from a ‘helping place’ rather than approaching them as if they were in the wrong.
Two days later, this woman called asking if she could come back into the shelter because her situation fell through. I’m not sure if she meant the tent situation or the supposed housing she had in place after she was going to stay in a tent. I let her know that our policy says if you choose to leave without finishing the 60 day program, it is required that you wait 6 months before staying at our facility again. This is to spread out resources and hopefully make it understood that homelessness can be chronic and have a high recidivism rate, especially if one chooses not to use the resources to put supports in place.