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Coast to Coast Legal Aid’s Victoria Sexton awarded ‘EmpowHER Humanitarian Award’ for work with human trafficking survivors

Coast to Coast Legal Aid’s Victoria Sexton awarded ‘EmpowHER Humanitarian Award’ for work with human trafficking survivors

Coast to Coast Legal Aid’s Victoria Sexton awarded ‘EmpowHER Humanitarian Award’ for work with human trafficking survivors

Coast to Coast Legal Aid’s Victoria Sexton awarded ‘EmpowHER Humanitarian Award’ for work with human trafficking survivors

‘Our program was specifically created with input from survivors to ensure our work reflects the legal assistance survivors need and, most importantly, want’

Group Photo with Congresswoman

Congresswoman Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, D-FL, hosted the first ever EmpowHER Awards Ceremony to celebrate exceptional women in the fields of leadership, humanitarian work, sports, arts, and STEM. From the left are awardees Dr. Rena Amro, Commissioner Karlene Maxwell-Williams, Rep. Cherfilus-McCormick, Calibe Thompson, Regine Hill, Victoria Sexton, and emcee Commissioner Melissa P. Dunn.

In 2019, Victoria Sexton, an attorney for Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida’s Human Trafficking Legal Program, was recently presented the “EmpowHER Humanitarian Award” for her work with survivors of human trafficking.

Sexton began her work with survivors through an Equal Justice Works Fellowship. Currently, the Office for Victims of Crime funds CCLA’s Human Trafficking Legal Program. Through that grant, CCLA provides “free, holistic, comprehensive legal services to survivors of sex and labor trafficking.” Sexton assists survivors with expungements, education, name changes, housing issues, family law cases, immigration applications, and obtaining or changing identifying documents. She works closely with other local human trafficking providers to ensure survivors receive all wraparound services needed.

“Coast to Coast Legal Aid developed this program in 2019 after discovering a gap in free legal services for survivors in Broward County,” Sexton said. “Our program was specifically created with input from survivors to ensure our work reflects the legal assistance survivors need and, most importantly, want. Survivor autonomy comes first in our work.”

U.S. Rep. Cherfilus-McCormick, D-FL, hosted the first ever EmpowHER Awards Ceremony and presented the award to Sexton.

One of Sexton’s trafficking clients said, “Words could never describe how much I truly appreciate you and the work you are doing for victims of trafficking, I sincerely thank you for taking my cases and fighting for my rights as a victim and also for communicating with me every step of the way throughout the process…. You have no idea how hard it has been to get to this point. First of all the shame and embarrassment that come up each time I’ve had to tell my story over and over to different agencies to clear up my record is beyond immeasurable, but the lack of resources (nationwide) available to victims of trafficking is mind blowing. None of the agencies in other cities (where I was arrested under these same circumstances) have any sort of special division or departments that are dedicated to handling trafficking cases like you have done for me. I was really starting to get discouraged about dealing with any of it, until I was connected with you. Ever since our very first communication I started feeling hopeful again that I can do this and put the past to rest, which is all because of your overall positive attitude and also how you have treated me with respect and kindness every time we speak. Please keep it up because it is so important and means so much to people like me.”

Lisa Goldberg, CCLA’s executive director, says the program is “life changing.”

“Survivors who have criminal records due to their victimization get their records expunged,” Goldberg said. “With clean records, survivors can apply for jobs, housing, and school programs. They are able to start a new chapter and truly move forward with their lives.”

Originally published at https://www.floridabar.org/the-florida-bar-news/coast-to-coast-legal-aids-victoria-sexton-awarded-empowher-humanitarian-award-for-work-with-human-trafficking-survivors/

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