Real Talk w/CJ: Marty Elkins, Victim and Employee Support Services
Tues, Feb. 16
2:00 – 3:00 pm
Hazel B. Kerper Courtroom
The program, called Interdiction for the Protection of Children, trains patrol officers to identify children during traffic stops who may be abducted or endangered by using behavior patterns of both suspect and victims and age-appropriate questioning techniques. The program has resulted in the successful rescue of hundreds of children in Texas, and countless children worldwide, through training and collaboration with other departments and agencies.
“Since 2009, the Texas Department of Public Safety has trained 5,119 law enforcement officers in Texas, 4,256 officers from other states, and 591 officers from foreign countries,” according to “Combating Child Sex Trafficking” from the FBI.
In 2015, 54 children were rescued through the program, and 177 minors and their families received help from Victim Services.
Marty Elkins is a Regional Victim Services Counselor, who works with child and adult victims of crime, including murder, sexual assault, crime crashes, and human trafficking, to name a few. She serves in Region 2, which covers Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Waller, and Horton counties and provides a helping hand to crime victims to access services and bring their cases to justice.
Adult and child victims of human trafficking come with a unique set of issues and challenges. For many, the response is a revolving door of rescue and return. For domestic victims, some of whom are escaping sexual abuse and violence at home, the trafficker is perceived as providing love, support, structure, and money. “They have a bond with their abuser, who protects them, and they see this as their only chance to survive,” said Elkins.
For international victims, there is also the fear of deportation. “People do a lot to get into the United States,” said Elkins. “If they cooperate, they fear they will be sent back.”
There are very few programs that target these victims and many return to the streets. In Region 2, there are only two residential programs for victims of child sex trafficking – Freedom Place in Spring, a 30-bed unit run by Arrow Child and Family Ministries; and Restore Her, a program for six to eight girls from ages 7-17 that is part of the Still Creek Ranch in Bryan.
“We try and earn their trust and provide counseling,” said Elkins. “It has to be genuine and constant care. It makes a lot of time, patience and effort… It can be very frustrating. There is a lack of resources and not a lot of victim shelters. Many of the victims don’t believe that we really care about them, which we do... They need so much support and care.”
Because of the immigration issues, international victims are placed by Homeland Security Investigations, but DPS assists victims through the criminal justice process. Elkins and a fellow victim service counselor accompany victims to the forensic interview and an exam by the Sexual Assault Nurse and work to contact parents, Department of Family and Child Protective Services or Juvenile Services.