Advocating Opportunity (AO) is unique among legal service providers for trafficked and exploited persons.
We are only one of three programs in the country which provide comprehensive, holistic, trauma-responsive legal services to men and women, minors and adults, and U.S. Citizens and foreign-born persons who have experienced sex or labor trafficking. We also provide family support to ensure that trafficked and exploited persons have a stable home environment. Most legal service providers across the U.S. provide limited legal services or work with a limited population, such as working only with minors or adults, only with women, only foreign-born trafficked and exploited persons, or only with those who experienced sex or labor trafficking. AO is different.
We use a human rights-based, client-centered approach to combating human trafficking and exploitation. This approach focuses on the individual circumstances, needs, and rights of trafficked and exploited persons and respects the individual’s autonomy, agency, and rights. AO's approach strives to empower the individual, on their terms, is non-judgmental, and connects the rights of the individual to prosecution of traffickers and exploiters.
Our holistic legal services are provided within a legal framework and are client-led. Our Client Advocates and Attorneys employ trauma-responsive mobile advocacy to clients, meeting each person where they are. Advocates focus on addressing a client's needs and goals, as identified by each client, rather than on predetermined needs or goals identified or promoted by our firm.
AO is inclusive. AO works with trafficked and exploited persons at any stage of their recovery until they choose to leave services. We work with existing services in the community to fill gaps in service, support existing resources, and bolster a human rights-based approach in our clients' interest. This ensures that trafficked persons receive effective, coordinated services which are individually tailored to each client’s needs. AO’s whole-person advocacy provides clients with access to linguistically-appropriate, culturally-sensitive, trauma-responsive, and client-centered social, mental health, medical, legal, educational, housing, vocational and other services.
AO works with local courts, social service agencies, law enforcement, and other organizations dedicated to supporting trafficked and exploited persons. Our partners include the Lucas and Franklin County Common Pleas Court Juvenile and General Divisions, the Crime and Trauma Assistance Program at Mount Carmel, the FBI Innocence Lost Task Force, the Salvation Army of Central Ohio, Covered, the Drug Abuse Response Team with the Lucas County Sheriff's Department, the Toledo Bar Association Pro Bono Program, the Ohio State Bar Foundation, the Toledo Legal Aid Society Public Defender Program, Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, the Office of the Ohio Public Defender, and the Greif Fellowship at Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law among other organizations and partners.
Why an attorney and a Dedicated Advocate?
AO provides an Attorney and a Client Advocate to each client to assist them while they reorganize their lives. Our staff is trained extensively in human trafficking and exploitation. We pair an Attorney and a Client Advocate to work exclusively with each client throughout their journey. The advocacy team works consistently with each client until they no longer wish to participate in services.
AO is the only non-profit legal services organization whose staff is certified in trauma-responsive care. Each staff member is a certified Trauma Responsive Care Coordinator (TRCC) through the Tristate Trauma Network and we employ a trauma-responsive approach to working with each client. We never close a client’s case and clients may return at any time for services. AO provides all services at no cost.
A dedicated and human trafficking competent legal advocate
assists trafficked and exploited persons to:
Understand the (U.S.) legal system and their rights in a culturally and linguistically appropriate setting
Understand the criminal legal process and their role as a victim-witness
Learn to work with and understand the courts, law enforcement, governmental agencies, and non-governmental organizations in a new context
Access immigration relief and assistance
Pursue civil remedies
Address other legal issues as they arise
Provides client-led, trauma-responsive mobile advocacy under a legal framework