Tapestri began in 1996 as a coalition to address the problem of domestic violence against immigrant women under the umbrella of the Refugee Women’s Network.
The group became a nonprofit in its own right in 2002 and eventually expanded its services to meet the needs of survivors of human trafficking. Human trafficking is the second largest and fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, and a U.S. Justice Department study has ranked Atlanta No. 1 in the country for the sex trade because of the city’s status as a transportation hub and convention center.
“The majority of our clients are Latinas from Central America right now,” says outreach specialist Laura Carter, “but we help women from all over the world, including Western Europe, Africa and the Middle East.”
Most of the organization’s eight staffers are bilingual, and on call is a team of interpreters who speak about 30 languages, from Amharic to Vietnamese.
“We get most of our referrals from law enforcement, and we try to provide them with comprehensive case management,” Carter says, including shelter, food, clothing, counseling, English classes, legal assistance from immigration attorneys, healthcare and transportation. “Some of our clients come to us with only the clothes on their backs.”
The organization also offers a couple of programs for men, including one on social engagement, to help them become role models for nonviolence in their communities, and one for batterers facing court orders on anger management.
Tapestri has worked with more than 100 foreign-born trafficking survivors since 2004. Through its partnership with the Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network, the group has seen a 100 percent success rate with obtaining T-visas (available to victims of human trafficking to allow them to remain in the U.S. and to assist in an investigation or prosecution of human trafficking) for those it helps.