Advocating Opportunity (AO) is unique among legal service providers for trafficked and exploited persons.
We are only one of four programs in the country which provides comprehensive, holistic, trauma-responsive legal and social 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 support for families 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.
We use a human rights-based, client-centered, approach to working with clients and combating human trafficking and exploitation. This approach focuses on the individual circumstances, needs, and rights of trafficked and exploited persons, respects the individual’s autonomy, agency, and rights, is empowering and non-judgmental, and connects the rights of the individual to prosecution of traffickers and exploiters.
Our legal and social services are client-led and our Client Advocates and Attorneys employ client-driven, trauma-responsive, mobile advocacy to clients. Advocates focus on addressing a client's needs and goals, as identified by each client, rather than on predetermined needs promoted by our firm. Our staff is mobile and is trained to be trauma-responsive.
AO is inclusive, working with trafficked and exploited persons at any stage of their recovery until they choose to leave services. AO works with existing services in the community resources are conserved and services are not duplicated. This ensures that trafficked persons receive efficient, 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, 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 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, the Drug Abuse Response Team with the Lucas County Sheriff's Department, the Toledo Bar Association Pro Bono Program, 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 during their recovery and reintegration into the community. Our attorneys and advocates are trained extensively in human trafficking and exploitation and are paired to work exclusively with one client throughout that client's journey. The advocacy team works consistently with each client until they become stabilized. We never close a client’s case and clients may return at anytime for services. AO provides all services to each client 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