The high demand and supply in the USA of sexual and labor trafficking contributes to the human trafficking problem. Young adults, male and female as young as twelve, are victims of this serious crime. Less than 10% are kidnapped. Many victims were sold by someone they knew. They are targeted by their vulnerabilities. Victims may have a history of abuse, be developmentally disabled, be foster children, are homeless, or a runaway. After 48-72 hours after running away, a teen will be approached by a sexual trafficker.
The perpetrator breaks their victims down with sleep deprivation and substance abuse in order to control their victims. Often times, the victim is branded with a tattoo designating ownership by the perpetrator. The victim might have a money symbol, a scan code, property of stamp, etc. The locations of these are the key. They are usually on the side or back of the neck, behind an ear, inner lip, or in the pubic area. The female victims are required to have sex even during their menses cycle and are impacted with sponges or tampons. The victims are groomed what to say to medical personnel if they are brought in to be seen.
77% of victims related to human trafficking will suffer a higher episode of PTSD than a war vet due to the constant re-experiencing of the trauma and disturbing memories. They have difficulty sustaining relationships if they manage to escape. The victims avoid internal and external reminders of trauma and stress. They are hyperarousal due to the nervous system reaction of repeated fight or flight.
If you work in a medical facility or clinic, eye clinic, or dental office, etc. be on the lookout of these indicators of human trafficking:
- patient claims they are out of town and has no address
- lack of I.D.
- disassociation or uncommunicative
- abnormal reactions
- someone always talking for the victim
- eyes downcast when spoken to
- can’t be seen alone
What can you do about it?
- watch your tone of voice when speaking to the victim
- adjust to resistance
- listen to them
- don’t judge
- avoid confrontation
- kindness goes a long way
- ask why the person is here or what happened to bring them here
- express empathy
- report suspicions to the National Human Trafficking Hotline @ 888-373-7888 or text HELP to 233733.
Want free material on the subject? Go to dsh.gov/ blue-campaign.