Family Crisis Center of East Texas Innovates with “Unseen Suffering”: A Human Trafficking Simulation

(January 24, 2024) – In a groundbreaking effort to address the critical issue of human trafficking, the Family Crisis Center of East Texas proudly introduces “Unseen Suffering: A Human Trafficking Simulation.”

This innovative simulation, developed entirely in-house by the agency, is set to make its public debut on January 31 at 5:30 pm in the Twilight Ballroom at the Stephen F. Austin State University Student Center, coinciding with Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

Inspired by the impactful “In Her Shoes” domestic violence simulation, the agency recognized a significant gap in available resources related to human trafficking simulations.

In response, the agency took a proactive approach, creating “Unseen Suffering” as an experiential learning tool. This simulation invites individuals and groups to immerse themselves in the lives of diverse characters trapped in the web of human trafficking.

Participants will be provided with character cards detailing the background and current situation of their assigned persona, and color-coordinated plot cards at different stations will guide them through scenarios involving abusive control, exploitation, and manipulation. All scenarios are based on real-life experiences.

Human trafficking is a pervasive crime involving the force, deceit, or control of individuals for financial gain, often through labor or sex. Traffickers strategically lure and defraud people, manipulating and exploiting their vulnerabilities to subject them to forced labor and sexual exploitation.

Victims can come from any background but are often individuals hoping for a better life, facing limited employment opportunities, grappling with an unstable home life, or dealing with a history of sexual, physical, or substance abuse.

Executive Director Whitney Burran expressed hope about the agency’s groundbreaking initiative, stating, “Human trafficking is a complex issue that demands attention. ‘Unseen Suffering’ is a simulation that allows participants to better understand challenging choices faced by survivors.”


Survivors of human trafficking confront many critical choices, and the simulation serves as a powerful tool to shed light on the harsh realities they endure. Often, traffickers strip away survivors’ ability to make choices, further emphasizing the urgency of addressing this issue.

“‘Unseen Suffering’ is not just an educational tool; it is a call to action for the community,” says Burran.

To mark the public debut of “Unseen Suffering,” the Family Crisis Center invites the community to participate in this immersive learning experience. The event, scheduled for January 31, is free and open to the public, with complimentary drinks and snacks provided.

For further information, please contact Melissa Wheeler at 936-639-1681 or

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, call the agency’s crisis hotline 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free and confidential help, 1-800-828-7233 (SAFE) or send a text to 936-552-9256.


The Family Crisis Center of East Texas (FCCET) is a non-profit organization that empowers survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault by providing crisis intervention and advocacy services. The FCCET also engages the community through education to build awareness and prevent domestic violence and sexual assault.

Since 1979, the Janelle Grum Family Crisis Center of East Texas (Women’s Shelter of East Texas, Inc.) staffs a full array of professionals specializing in assistance for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. These services included emergency shelter, a 24-hour crisis hotline, access to food and clothing, information and referrals, legal and personal advocacy, child advocacy, self-sufficiency advocacy, counseling, support groups, transitional housing, prevention services, Battering Intervention & Prevention Program and more.