Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute

htsji LOGO

The Mission of the Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute is to respond to human trafficking and social justice through teaching, research and engagement.

“With an international reputation, the Institute provides quality and relevant research, a premiere education, and effective community engagement.”

F.R.E.E. Program
The University of Toledo's Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute’s F.R.E.E. program provides scholarships and support for survivors of human trafficking. Specifically the program has four phases, (1) Foundation (2) Readiness (3) Education, and (4) Employment.  The acronym is FR.E.E. signifying their potential to achieve economic and psychological freedom and empowerment.

The University of Toledo's Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute believes in a survivor's capacity to move from survivors to thrivers by achieving a degree or certification, becoming economically empowered and obtain livable employment. If you are interested in participating in the F.R.E.E. Program, please contact or phone 567.218.1467 for more information.

Funding for the The University of Toledo Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute F.R.E.E. program is provided by the Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) Foundation Established in 1994.  The ECMC mission is to inspire and to facilitate improvement that affect educational outcomes especially among underserved populations - through evidence based innovation.

Learn more


The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) unveiled a new publication entitled “Representing Domestic Violence Survivors with Pets in Ohio: A Manual for Domestic Violence Attorneys & Advocates Helping Survivors Obtain Protection Orders.”  The manual is designed to enable attorneys and advocates in Ohio to better assist pet-owning domestic violence survivors. It offers a step-by-step approach to simplify the inclusion of pets in protection orders, allowing survivors to take control of their lives and escape abuse along with their pets.

“This manual will be an essential addition to the resources we currently offer on animals and family violence,” said Cathy Liss, AWI president. “It is crucial for attorneys and advocates to be aware of the concerns voiced by domestic violence survivors about their pets, of how those concerns affect the survivors’ decisions, and, most of all, of how to help them use the protection order process on behalf of their companion animals.”

The resource explains why pets should be protected in cases of domestic violence, noting that abusers often harm companion animals—just as they harm their partners and children—to assert dominance and control. One survey found that 71 percent of pet-owning domestic violence victims reported that their abusers had threatened, injured or killed their pets. Victims often refuse to leave violent situations for fear of what will happen to their pets. When seeking assistance, they may not even mention that they have a pet because they assume that there are no resources available to care for their animals.

The manual discusses the general legal landscape surrounding the inclusion of companion animals in civil protection orders, gives specific details about the laws in Ohio and provides links to forms and outside resources. To date, AWI has published similar resources for 11 other states and the District of Columbia.

Under Ohio law, petitions for protection orders are granted in cases of domestic violence and child abuse. Any adult in the household may seek a protection order on behalf of any other family or household member, including a child. Although animal abuse is not specifically mentioned in the statute as a basis for requesting that a court issue a protection order, the court may order the respondent to stay away from the pet(s) and/or allow the applicant to request custody of them as part of a domestic violence protection order.

“Because domestic violence intake interviews typically do not involve questions about the presence of pets, pets are still rarely included in petitions and final orders,” said Nancy Blaney, director of government affairs for AWI. “With the creation of this manual, which covers every aspect of this issue concisely but thoroughly, our mission is to simplify the inclusion of companion animals in protection orders for attorneys and advocates, allowing survivors to take control of their lives and find safety for themselves and their pets.”

 AWI is organizing a series of cross-trainings in March for animal control officers, social workers and advocates for victims of domestic violence, among others, in Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo.

In May of this year, The University of Toledo Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute in collaboration with the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition called a Press Conference to bring attention to a few issues. We want to make two issues clear. First, language is Important. What is in a word? Sometimes everything. We believe that the local media used inappropriate language to discuss the case regarding former Toledo Police Officer Michael Moore. In the coverage of this case, the alleged victim was called a “child prostitute” and “under-aged prostitute” by WTOL News. The language about the alleged sexual interaction between the then 14 year old child and former officer Moore was described by The Blade as one person paying to “have sex” with another. When an adult is alleged to have paid for sex with a child, the person is called an alleged child molester, the child is called an alleged victim of commercial sexual exploitation, and the act is called commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Language is a powerful way of denigrating oppressed populations who society views as less valuable. Despite both the federal law and Ohio law that says that youth who are involved in the commercial sex trade are victims of the crime of child sex trafficking, the Blade chose to characterize the alleged victim as an “admitted prostitute”. Admitting the label assigned by the oppressor doesn’t mean it’s true. For several hundred years the “N” word was used to describe a population of people and if you asked a slave back then if they were indeed the “N” word, they would have told you yes. In fact, in Ohio a 14 year old child that has sex with an adult for money is a child sex trafficking victim or at the very least a child that is so desperate for money that she needs our immediate help, not our denigration. The adult in these cases is the person that stands accountable, not the child.  Child sex trafficking is modern day slavery as identified by our federal government.

We called this press conference to ensure that our community knows the proper language to use when discussing the topic of commercial sex with a child. Second, we are concerned that because of this that other children will not come forward to tell someone about their victimization. We want to assure child victims that may be out in our community that we want them to come forward and get help.

Click here to see HTSJI and Dr. Williamson on The Universty of Toledo Features 



The University of Toledo will host the 16th annual International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference September 19-20, 2019.

UT's Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute hosts the annual conference for attendees to exchange ideas and engage survivors of human trafficking.

 FOllow us on Social Media!  

Join our mailing list for periodic updates

Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition Events

Monthly Meetings - Toledo

The coalition meets from 9:15-11:00 a.m. on the 3rd Wednesday of the month,
at the Kent Branch Public Library
3101 Collingwood Boulevard, Toledo, OH 43610
(at the corner of Collingwood and Central). Library opens at 9:00 a.m

kent branch library

World Without Exploitation hosting the Now and Next Conference in DC - Learn, Strategize, and Connect

Opiate Regional Teach-in and Prevention and Resource Expo

Sherrod Brown speaking at our "Ending Addiction Stigma" Event 

MacArthur Grant funded to the Lucas County Board of Commissioners for criminal justice reform! - The Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute helped organize the community input for the grant 

Past events archive

Last Updated: 10/4/19