Be the Voice

     What happens to the survivors of human trafficking?
  • Long-term psychological trauma. Women and girls trafficked into the sex industry often report depression, feelings of hopelessness, and "numbness leaving them unable to feel." Others describe difficulty sleeping, and feeling easily startled, on guard, worthless, being trapped, paranoid, and ashamed. Some report turning their anger and rage inward to thoughts of suicide and suicide attempts. Women describe multiple attempts at self-injury through drug overdoses, abuse of pills, engaging in high-risk behavior (i.e., not using condoms), walking in front of moving cars, self-cutting, wrist slitting, and attempts to poison and hang themselves.
  • Lack of skills for independent living.  Survivors of trafficking often lack the basic skills necessary to live independently in US society. They may not understand English, how to use US currency or the role of government agencies, police, the courts, or banks. Some may not be able to make inquiries, exercise choice, make purchases, grocery shop, and take public transportation.                                  Where do the survivors go? Who helps them?
  • The Trafficking Act has released significant federal dollars into local communities to develop such             services, administered largely through the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of                Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and the Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women             (OVAW) and Office for Victims of Crime. Funding is available to conduct community outreach where           trafficking survivors may dwell, to train public and community personnel who may encounter                     trafficking survivors and to provide human services, such as case management, legal assistance,             benefits advocacy, housing and employment assistance. In 2005, the Department of Health and              Human Services awarded approximately $3.2 million in grants to more than a dozen organizations for      services to assist certain trafficking survivors and to promote greater outreach efforts.
  • There are nongovernmental and governmental organizations that help to serve the survivors of human trafficking.  Some organizations focus on research, training, and public policy initiatives, others offer legal assistance and conduct litigation, while still others provide human services such as case management, counseling, outreach, shelter, and employment assistance.
  • Under the Trafficking Act, trafficking survivors can receive federal assistance for refugees, such as Medicaid, Refugee Cash Assistance, housing, Food Stamps and longer-term services, but only if they are willing to participate in the prosecution of the trafficker. (Human Right Quarterly, 2007)