Not On My Watch! Safe Haven Network International’s purpose is to eradicate human trafficking and domestic violence nationwide and also rehabilitate survivors. An extension of The NYC Faith-Based Coalition Against Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence, it is a consortium of faith and community leaders, government agencies, service providers, and advocates.
It was in 2013 at the first conference for the NYC Clergy Roundtable that faith leaders sat in shock, anger, dismay, and disbelief. After an intense 2-hour presentation about the epidemic of human trafficking, many questioned how this could be happening right in their hometown of New York City. There was a general realization that communities of faith often operate in a microcosm of the city around them. But on this day, we were forced out from behind the walls. The survivors’ stories were not only life-changing, as we learned of the horrors of human trafficking, but they were a call to action; for us to explore every possible method to combat this modern day slavery.
Our motivation to act originated from the revelation that human trafficking was rampant in New York City with reports coming in at an alarming rate. In 2013 alone at least 2,300 children, with an average age of 11-14, were lost. There had been various organizations attacking trafficking and domestic violence head-on. Nevertheless, there had not been an intentional, coordinated effort among leaders of faith communities. Therefore, we formed The NYC Faith-Based Coalition Against Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence. Comprised of faith and community leaders, service providers, public safety officers, the Office of the District Attorney, and government agencies, the Coalition’s initial purpose was to 1) discuss and implement viable solutions to reduce the number of victims; and 2) create greater awareness throughout the New York City. This organization was and remains, with over 200 members, the first and only coalition of its kind.
The NYC Faith-Based Coalition Against Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence’s inaugural conference drew over 500 attendees and the support of government agencies including Homeland Security and The United Nations. That was beginning of the Coalition’s strong campaign to advocate for victims of trafficking and domestic violence throughout the City.
Although some progress had been made, after time we hadn’t quite gotten the results we were looking for. We began to partner with other organizations that are well-versed in the area of human trafficking and domestic violence. This initiative expanded the reach and solidified the impact that our members have within their respective neighborhoods. Thus Not On My Watch, Inc. – Safe Haven Network International was formed. The premise is simple – with more resources, we can do more, we can reach more, and we can become more. To date, we have successfully trained over 200 houses of worship.