New Troy nonprofit aims to combat human trafficking, help survivors

By: Sarah Wright | Troy Times | Published April 26, 2024




TROY — Troy resident Vernal T. Tiller recently launched Bianca’s Haven, a nonprofit foundation that is named after Tiller’s daughter and aims to address human trafficking by providing support and resources to survivors and community members.

Human trafficking involves the exploitation of individuals through the use of force, deception or coercion. Traffickers use tactics such as violence, intimidation, deceit, bondage and other forms of manipulation to force individuals into participating in commercial sex, labor or services against their will. The issue impacts communities inside and outside the U.S., and all ages, genders, ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses.

“Each client’s trauma looks very different,” said Bianca J. Reaves, the organization’s namesake and treasurer, and a licensed clinical counselor who works with trauma clients, in a press release. “The focus is on redefining their new normal and healing. It can be very difficult for survivors to reestablish healthy relationships and boundaries; this is where the therapeutic skills come in.”

Tiller — a registered nurse who has a Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology, and a master’s in health care administration and management — is the CEO and founder of Bianca’s Haven as well as a lifelong Troy resident and a 1978 graduate of Troy Athens High School. She has over 40 years of experience as a registered nurse.

“Witnessing firsthand the toll on self-esteem, I am committed to offering a new beginning and amplifying the voices of those who have been marginalized and silenced,” Tiller said in a press release.

Bianca’s Haven is focused on providing education on the issue, rallying support, promoting safety, contributing to policies that aim to protect the vulnerable, and encouraging empowerment for survivors of human trafficking through impactful public awareness and fundraising campaigns. The nonprofit is driven by a mission to disrupt the cycles of domestic violence, abuse, human trafficking and victimization.

“Our aim is to coordinate fundraising endeavors to enhance programs focused on raising public awareness, promoting empowerment, and advocating for victims of human trafficking,” Tiller said in a press release. “We strive to accomplish this goal by fostering community collaboration and cultivating strategic partnerships. Michigan houses several task forces committed to addressing this urgent public health concern, such as the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission initiated by the state’s attorney general and assistant attorney general.”

The organization’s board includes a variety of distinguished individuals who have dedicated their careers to the mission of combating human trafficking along with Tiller serving as board chair and Reaves serving as treasurer. The board also includes Danielle Bastien as vice president, Santosh Mudiraj as vice president, and Wendy M. Tiller as secretary.

Bastien is a family nurse practitioner and medical examiner. She completed her doctoral research on creating and implementing a policy and procedure on identifying, assessing and treating victims of human trafficking in the emergency department. This screening tool is now available on every EPIC information technology platform in North America.

Wendy M. Tiller has served as a registered nurse for over 30 years in the emergency room of one of the largest health care systems in Michigan, as well as a corrections nurse.

“Being able to interview the patient in the absence of the trafficker is a pivotal moment in the transformation from victim to survivor,” Wendy M. Tiller said in a press release. “This allows the ability to assess the patient and initiate immediate referrals to social services for emergency housing placement and notification of the police.”

Mudiraj worked as a physician in the Mumbai area, and provided support to human trafficking victims, along with his team.

“I was one of the first lines of contact for human trafficking victims,” Murdiraj said in a press release. “Equipped with specialized training, my team and I identified and aided victims of human trafficking, offered crucial support to these individuals, and helped them transition from victims to survivors by connecting them with essential services. I volunteered at a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting trafficked children. I taught English (as this was not their first language) and fostered social skills, while gaining valuable insights from these resilient young individuals who aspired to become future clinicians, social workers, and educators to combat human trafficking. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this amazing team at Bianca’s Haven and working with the community to address and prevent human trafficking.”

Bianca’s Haven also promotes the work of organizations like Alternatives for Girls, Sanctum House, and Common Ground, which are dedicated to providing support and assistance to women who are survivors of human trafficking. For those interested in additional resources and support, call 911 for emergencies, or reach out to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888 or text BEFREE to 233733.

The organization is currently in the planning phases for an inaugural fundraiser, which is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 10.

For further details regarding Bianca’s Haven or to donate, visit