Catie Hart has experience dating back to 1998, when she first met her trafficker. After being exploited for over seven years, she was able to escape... and then the work of healing began. She now brings a breadth of experience to her work, ranging from victim/survivor, to her work with law enforcement, and most currently, her work training thousands of social workers, probation officers, county council members, youth of all ages, in over 30 counties throughout the state of California.
To bring reality-based education to people of all ages. Through my trainings and tools, I strive to empower people to stay safe, to be compassionate to those affected by trafficking, and to better understand that we must all heal together if we are to lessen the problem.
- Developer, Curriculum for California Department of Social Services
- Developer, Online Trauma Bonding Course for University of California, Davis
- Keynote Speaker, Rising International's Annual Fundraiser, 2016, 2017
- Guest Speaker, Sonoma State University's 'Identity & Global Changes' Class
- Co-Founder, Rising International’s ‘Safe & Sound’ Program
- Co-Founder, Tech Company for Child Welfare
- Member, Community Advisory Board, Evaluating the San Francisco Mayor's Task Force to End Trafficking
- Bachelor of Arts Degree, Sociology, University of California, Berkeley
my time at the SFPD's special victim's unit
When I was finishing my degree at Cal, I needed three elective units, and I was sick of sitting in lecture halls; I was ready to branch out. The San Francisco formed the Special Victim’s Unit in 2011, five years after I escaped my exploiter. I called my friend who was running the human trafficking division in SVU, Sgt. Flores, and asked him if there was an internship available for me. Over the summer of 2014, I spent my days with an incredible team, studying trafficking cases and listening to recorded calls made by folks who were incarcerated on trafficking charges.
Listening to those calls, my passion for better understanding the exploiter was born. Their manipulation strategies and other patterns in their communication with victims, friends and family members was startling; they all sounded similar to each other, as well as to my exploiter, who I had met 15 years earlier.
In our society, we seem to build these kinds of social movements on the premise that if we can teach people how ‘not to become victims’, the problem will go away. Although I do believe that understanding the people who are victimized is extremely important, I feel we will never be able to eradicate trafficking without equally studying the traffickers, their strategies, and their psychological profiles.
I am forever grateful to the SFPD and the human trafficking team I had the pleasure of working with. The men and women there take their job seriously, and although we all have a lot of work to do in order to better serve those affected by this crime, I witnessed folks working hard to make a difference.
My work with child welfare
In 2014, Gov Jerry Brown signed SB 855 into law, and the way California handles commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) cases was changed. Because these cases now fall under the ‘child abuse’ category, county social services agencies are mandated to investigate, and work with, sexually exploited minors and their families. This meant big changes for child welfare, and thousands needed training – child welfare workers, juvenile probation, mandated reporters, and community partners needed knowledge that would enable them to not only follow the new laws, but to also understand and support affected youth.
I was honored to be hired by the Northern Training Academy, who was responsible for training everyone in the 28 counties north of the Bay Area. My colleague and I developed the CSEC 101 curriculum, and set out to educate folks about this incredibly complex issue. I saw this work as a team effort; I learned an infinite amount from trainees, and together we started to bring light to this dark subject.
When the funding for the 102 trainings was pulled from the Northern Academy and restructured to a fantastic organization in Los Angeles, I decided to go out on my own. I have come to enjoy county direct services, where I can really get to know the unique issues within each geographic area, and build custom trainings and engagement tools to fit county-specific needs.
Working with child welfare agencies has been one of the best experiences of my life. The people that work in these agencies are on the front lines, supporting our most vulnerable populations. My hope is that I can support these wonderful people in improving their work with CSE youth.