What We Do


San Diego Youth Services STARS (Surviving Together, Achieving and Reaching for Success) program empowers survivors ages 13-24 to leave sexual exploitation and trafficking by providing emotional support to develop their inner strengths, improve their self-esteem and identify their dreams. We promote healing through relationships and a sense of community through our client-centered, trauma-informed services.

Last year, STARS helped 189 survivors of human trafficking and provided 42 community trainings.

Youth participating in I CARE

Supportive Services

Case Management

  • Services help to identify goals and create support around recovery from trafficking, physical and mental health, independent living skills, and increasing self-sufficiency.
  • Support includes detention outreach, court representation and advocacy, health appointments, applying for benefits, housing, obtaining legal documents, enrolling in school, job searching and exercise.
  • Referrals and connection to mental health care, school, health, drug and alcohol treatment, and housing.

Therapy and Mental Health Services

  • Individual and family therapy for all minor victims of human trafficking (labor and sex) and adult (18-24) survivors of domestic sex trafficking.
  • Referral and connection to mental health care either through STARS or a partner agency.

Detention Outreach

  • Services while the survivor is in custody depending on location, including emotional support, advocacy and establishing goals and a support plan upon release.

STARS Survivor Support Group

  • Weekly support group.
  • Drop-in structure for young women who need a flexible group structure without an attendance policy.
  • Counseling and peer support on topics like relationships and boundary setting, recruitment, vulnerabilities, commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking, safe coping, self-esteem, health, trauma, recovery and goal setting.

Peer Support Services

  • Utilizing lived experience, the Peer Support Partner offer a voice, perspective and validation to survivors and helps improve social functioning, reduce substance use and improve the overall quality of life.

Community Training

  • Training on Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Domestic Sex Trafficking. Training is tailored to the requesting party’s needs.


Vanessa Arteaga (619) 232-8126 x3503 / varteaga@sdyouthservices.org

Confidential location.
Hours: Monday – Friday, 8am – 4:30pm

See also: National Human Trafficking Awareness Month

More Resources

10 Facts About Sex Trafficking
Sex Trafficking Warning Signs

Local Resource Guide: 
Our newly updated and comprehensive listing of local resources for survivors of commercial exploitation of children (CSEC) and sex trafficking.
– Resources for CSEC and Human Trafficking Survivors
– Recursos Para Sobrevivientes De Trata De Personas Y CSEC

“Therapy taught me to love myself and never give up, that I am beautiful and I can do this. They believe in me.” – Survivor, Age 19