The Family Partnership PRIDE Program
By Charisma Smith
PRIDE (Promoting Recovery, Independence, Dignity, and Equality) is a program of The Family Partnership established in 1978 when a survivor of commercial sexual exploitation came to us seeking mental health therapy. She and her therapist worked to develop a program tailored specifically to women trying to escape a life of commercial sexual exploitation. PRIDE has since evolved greatly from its humble beginnings.
With the help of funding from the Minnesota Office of Justice Programming and the Greater Twin Cities United Way, PRIDE has grown into a multi-intervention service provider, offering services to commercially sexually exploited individuals. Some of the services offered include: safety planning, one-on-one support, counseling and support groups, legal assistance and advocacy, relapse prevention programming, housing, and LGBTQ-specific advocacy.
One-on-one support is provided by professionally trained staff with a clear understanding and, for some, personal experience in commercial sexual exploitation. The relationship between staff and participant is built upon understanding, clear boundaries, trust, and a code of ethics.
Our support groups provide individuals with a safe environment where they can survey their experiences and connect with others with similar experiences. During group sessions our survivors work to distinguish the difference between their current self and their core self, making them more receptive to building healthy relationships with peers, and more receptive to receiving the education and resources that will aid them in forever escaping a life of sexual exploitation.
Partnerships are at the core of the work we do. By maintaining effective partnerships with survivors, local, regional and national agencies, community members, and those who help fund PRIDE, we provide security to commercially sexually exploited individuals.
In partnership with the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center and the Minenapolis Police Department, PRIDE staff provide in-person outreach on Lake Street, speaking to individuals directly impacted by commercial sexual exploitation. Much of this work is done during ride-alongs with members of theThird Precicnt.
PRIDE also partners with the Hennepin County Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation to create a post charge diversion program (GIFT Calendar), allowing women with prostitution-related charges to remain in the community and receive services. Participation in programs that address chemical dependency, trauma, mental, physical, and behavioral health, and parenting is required. After two years’ involvement in the diversion program, we have found that a majority of participants are able to reclaim their lives without fear of relapse.
If you or anyone you know sees a suspected incident of commercial sexual exploitation, we urge you not to intervene personally, but to call 911 immediately to report the buyer of sex. Reporting the buyer to the authorities exposes the demand in our communities and holds the individual accountable for their actions.
For more information about The Family Partnership PRIDE program, contact Charisma Smith at 612.728.2080 or by email. PRIDE staff can also be reached by calling our 24-Hour Crisis Line at 612.728.2062 (collect calls accepted) or toll free at 888.774.3399.