Stratford, Connecticut resident Alicia Kinsman, Director of Victim Services at the International Institute of Connecticut (IICONN), will accept a 2012 FBI Community Leadership Award for her outstanding work with survivors of human trafficking in Connecticut in Washington, D.C. in early April.
IICONN is a statewide non-profit agency dedicated to the needs of immigrants, refugees, and their families. Its anti-human trafficking program, called Project Rescue, helps survivors of human trafficking to start over again, to be reunited with family, achieve legal immigration status, employment, education, or whatever else is needed to heal.
“I’m quite humbled by this award,” Kinsman said, while crediting other members of her staff as well as the institute’s law enforcement partners. She added, “It does feel good to be recognized by work that I am quite passionate about.”
According to the FBI, “This special award was formally created in 1990 as a way to honor individuals and organizations for their efforts in combating crime, terrorism, drugs, and violence in America.”
Kinsman said, “Many people think that these are mainly young Asian or eastern European women sold into the sex trade. Although that does occur, the survivors we work with are men and women ranging in age from teens to mid-40s and older. They are both foreign born and U.S. citizens.” She says that because victims do not fit the stereotype the crime so often goes unnoticed.
Kinsman noted that “my day-to-day activities can get quite emotionally draining, as the clients I represent have been severely traumatized, some having suffered really unimaginable abuses. … Nonetheless, to those clients …, I get to be this little beacon of hope and justice, and a chance at being reunited with their family, perhaps gaining legal status, and remaining here in the United States to start a new life. To be able to have a role in creating that kind of a happy ending is really an award itself.”
“Most importantly for me is not the past, and not what has happened to the survivor of human trafficking specifically. That’s the past. And no, the trauma probably won’t ever completely disappear. But what I get to do, and what brings me the most joy, is to help that survivor get to his or her ‘future.’ I get to be a glimmer of hope, the chance at just a little bit of justice.”
Learn more at Chris Carroll’s Stratford Star article: Resident battles human trafficking.