OVC encourages local organizations to use these resources throughout the year at public awareness, education, and training events to promote and advance the cause of justice for victims of crime.
The series is intended to be used for outreach and education efforts of service providers, law enforcement, prosecutors, and others in the community. The series includes information about sex and labor trafficking, multidisciplinary approaches to serving victims of human trafficking, effective victim services, victims' legal needs, and voices of survivors.
Accompanying the video series is a discussion guide, four OVC Fact Sheets, and four posters that can be used to augment trainings and generate discussion. Download the complete Discussion Guide or the sections associated with each video below.
The Fact Sheets provide an introduction to human trafficking, information on the legal needs and rights of victims of human trafficking in the United States, information on the special considerations and needs of youth victims, and promising practices for building effective collaborations to address human trafficking.
The posters are designed to target specific audiences—service providers and allied professionals, law enforcement, the general public, and victims/survivors. Download the posters from the gallery on the right and customize them with information about your organization, training opportunities, or local service providers.
This 3-minute video is a preview of a 9-part video series that is designed to raise awareness of human trafficking.
This video introduces the issue of human trafficking—both sex and labor trafficking—in the United States in order to raise awareness and provide a foundation for further discussion and training.
Faces of Human Trafficking: An Introduction TRANSCRIPT
Bukola, Survivor Advocate: My trafficker was my husband. There was no way I could reach out to anybody for help.
Marq, Survivor Advocate: We’re scared. We’re scared to run. We’re scared to tell anybody what’s going on.
Jeri Williams, Co-founder, Survivor 2 Survivor: It was an incredibly violent situation. I felt like there was no way I could get out.
Niko, Survivor Advocate: It just...it was awful, the whole experience.
Linda, Survivor Advocate: I was full-time babysitter and house cleaning, cooking. I wasn’t getting paid. I was lied to. I was abused. I didn’t know I was a victim of human trafficking until I told my story.
Kathleen Morris, Anti-Trafficking Program Manager, International Rescue Committee: Human trafficking is really compelling someone to any form of work or service against their will.
Kate Crisham, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Western District of Washington State: Force, fraud, and coercion is really the crux of the crime.
James Fitzgerald, Lieutenant, Seattle Police Department: Human traffickers can be just about anyone from any walk of life. Owners of small businesses, the head of a household. A lot of the trafficking involves domestic servitude—hoteliers, restaurant owners, owners of massage parlors, agricultural farm owners.
Kate Crisham: It can be a trafficker who tells a woman, "I want to be your boyfriend. I love you, and if you love me, you’re going to go out and have sex for money." It can be kind of psychological like that or it can be more overt and more physical. It can be hitting, abusing, keeping them away from any support systems.
Miguel Keberlein, Supervisory Attorney, Illinois Migrant Legal Assistant Project: They may have their documents taken away from them—their passport and things like that—and they’re sort of held in a way that makes them fearful to complain. And if they do complain, and they are fired.
Kate Crisham: One myth about trafficking is that it involves people being smuggled in containers across borders. Smuggling is a crime against a border. Trafficking is a crime against a person.
Amy, Survivor Advocate: I still see this attitude of, "It’s just immigrants," or, "It’s just people in other countries." It happens to U.S. citizens so much more than people are aware.
Katherine Kaufka Walts, Director, Center for the Human Rights of Children, Loyola University of Chicago: There really is no one profile of a trafficked person. There are clearly themes or patterns, but if you look through the investigation reports, you’ll see cases that are very, very diverse.
Niko: Trafficking, it doesn’t know any boundaries. And it happens all over America. So I came from kind of a more privileged background, but I still...it still happened to me—and a male. The victim can be male, female, transgendered, anyone.
Kate Crisham: There is a myth out there—partly because of movies—that trafficking victims are chained up. And that’s not the case, but it doesn’t make the victim any less unable to leave. Oftentimes, they’re worried for their family members. Traffickers will often say, "I know people that will do things to them."
Amy: We need to understand that freedom of movement does not equal freedom of choice. Most of the time, being trapped is something we can’t see. It’s something that the trafficker pinpoints as a vulnerability and is able to use against the victim.
Niko: You’re initially brainwashed. And then, over a period of time, you become conditioned where you start to accept that this is all you can do.
Miguel Keberlein: The natural stakeholders in this issue are certainly law enforcement, legal advocates, social service providers. There’s other players involved as well.
Michelle Nasser, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Illinois: It is important to engage the community in human trafficking cases. Because victims often don’t self-identify, they don’t come forward to law enforcement.
Woman: Thank you! Buh-bye!
Mychell Mitchell, FBI Victim Specialist, Memphis, Tennessee: We try to make sure the community is educated regarding human trafficking, because those citizens in the community are the eyes and the ears.
Michelle Nasser: It’s medical workers. It’s educators. It’s personnel at homeless shelters.
James Fitzgerald: There has to be a support system within the community—psychological counseling, shelter, and vocational education—so they can reintegrate, become a healthy individual.
Kathleen Morris: We can’t do this alone. No one has the capacity to provide every single thing that a victim or survivor of human trafficking needs.
Miguel Keberlein: There’s an intentional effort to get everyone together so we know how to share resources, we know how to work together, and to make sure, at the end of the day, a victim becomes a survivor.
This video provides an overview of sex trafficking. It features survivors and professionals—including law enforcement, judges, and social service, legal, and health care providers—who share information on victim indicators, ways victims are often identified, how professionals may come into contact with victims of sex trafficking, and industries where sex trafficking is more common.
Faces of Human Trafficking: An Introduction to Sex Trafficking TRANSCRIPT
Amy, Survivor Advocate: The world of a trafficking victim is constant fear, constant dehumanization, just feeling like you are not even a person anymore. I experienced sex trafficking. I was a single mom trying to finish college, and that was what eventually led me to an adult club. It wasn’t something I was comfortable with, but, feeling pretty desperate, I thought, "Let me just try it, see what happens." The second night was when I met my trafficker. He was giving me what I thought was a legitimate job offer. You know, he said, "Let’s go over to my business." But once I got in there, I was held against my will, and that was the process of beatings and rapes by multiple subjects, and held in there for over 12 hours. And because that process was methodical and designed to break me down, I was very much like a robot. I was going to do what he told me to do. It wasn’t so much that nobody noticed; it was they didn’t know what to look for or what to call it. Sex trafficking is the action of a perpetrator recruiting, transporting, maintaining, harboring through force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of exploitation.
Keith Bickford, Detective, Multnomah Sheriff’s Office, Oregon: Law enforcement can be very proactive when it comes to combating sex trafficking, especially if you know where to look.
James Fitzgerald, Lieutenant, Seattle Police Department: If you go on the Internet, street-level prostitution, massage parlors, that’s the most easily identifiable. That doesn’t mean that all those individuals are victims of human trafficking, but it’s an easy place to start.
Amy: I came in contact with a lot of law enforcement officials, and they just weren’t trained. Some of them were well-intentioned. What you’re really going to want to look at is other signs that indicate exploitation. I saw this in shelters; medical doctors as well ER—physicians. That’s why training is so important.
James Fitzgerald: One of our goals, then, is to try to find new, innovative ways of identifying victims, letting them know that there are people in law enforcement, human service providers, and the courts that would like to help them.
Kate Mogulescu, Supervising Attorney, Legal Aid Society of New York City: As a public defender, I started to look more critically at our representation of people charged with prostitution offenses. These clients weren’t identifying themselves as victims of trafficking, but many of them had been completely controlled and scripted by the force, fraud, and coercion that we understand to make up human trafficking. We had to do better in trying to address these clients’ needs so that people who may be in very dangerous, abusive, violent situations don’t have to continue in those situations, and that an arrest make their life worse.
Bailiff: Honorable Judge Theresa Pouley is now presiding.
James Fitzgerald: The idea here is not to prosecute the potential sex trafficking victims.
Hon. Theresa Pouley, Chief Judge, Tulalip Tribal Court, Washington State: That happens a lot. A person is convicted of crimes and then are eliminated from all the services that could actually help them escape the trafficking.
Alfred Tribble, FBI Special Agent, Houston, Texas: You don’t have to show any force, fraud, or coercion if they’re a minor. You’ve got to be very, very astute in establishing the age, because what is difficult in a lot of jurisdictions, the trafficking statutes may have a different age and consider the child as adult.
Keith Bickford: The gangs are heavily involved in sex trafficking and running girls and boys. We need to start talking more about the problem. Schools can help with that—youth groups, counselors, the teachers, the janitors, the school security—giving them a list of red flags of what to look for.
Melinda Giovengo, Executive Director, YouthCare, Seattle, Washington: Providers out there often miss the cues: young people who describe boyfriends significantly older, young people who have bruises and cigarette burns.
Sharon Cooper, M.D., CEO, Developmental & Forensic Pediatrics: Many times, offenders will brand victims. It’s a sign of ownership on their part, particularly if the tattoos are near the face and neck.
Melinda Giovengo: People who show up with a lot of cash that nobody knows where they’re getting it from or very expensive items.
Hon. Theresa Pouley: In a courtroom setting, you can see when somebody is exerting improper power or control over a person by their demeanor, by where they sit, by how they try to get to talk to a client. Just watching for those sorts of things probably is the way we identify it most often.
Marq: If we’re recognizing signs, we’re able to do something about it. My trafficking was for almost 8 years. He was a close friend of the family. The words were used: "If you tell, I’ll cut you. I’ll bust you in your head. I’ll bust you in your nose." Being a male and being sex trafficked, when you go to a person and say, "Hey, so-and-so is doing this to me,"—"Oh, we don’t believe you. Stop lying." We’re the victims. We need people to believe who the victims really are.
Sharon Cooper, M.D.: Health care providers need to become sensitized to the whole issue of sex trafficking victimization.
Melinda Giovengo: Women who come in with multiple STDs, multiple unwanted pregnancies.
Sharon Cooper, M.D.: If they’re brought into an emergency room setting, the injuries may be the fairly classic intimate partner violence injuries. As a health care provider, if you fail to identify and recognize this type of patient, you may very well fail to have saved their life.
Melinda Giovengo: The best way to get people in is to be available, to make sure that they know and that you are over-providing them with resources. "Here’s my card, and if you need something, just call anytime, day or night, and we’ll make sure we can get you some help."
Teen: I’m good. How are you?
Melinda Giovengo: You can create a robust approach that allows an individual to be addressed from all dimensions. Help them deal with their legal situations. Help them find safe places to live and get the kind of therapy that they need to move forward.
Amy: Having the resources available, allowing the victim to choose but giving her support to do so, is important.
Melinda Giovengo: Coming together, we can help foster their recovery from the kind of traumatic events that they have suffered.
This video provides an overview of labor trafficking. It features survivors and professionals—including law enforcement, judges, social service, legal and health care providers—who share information on victim indicators, ways victims are often identified, how professionals may come into contact with victims of labor trafficking, and industries where labor trafficking is more common.
Faces of Human Trafficking: An Introduction to Labor Trafficking TRANSCRIPT
Lydia, Survivor Advocate: I am a labor trafficking survivor. I came as a religious visa, so I was there for this leader. I was not given a salary. I was told to take care of their grandchildren. I was with them 24 hours, so I was sleeping in the same room with the children. I got out from this situation in 2003. And then I was scared to be undocumented. When I came to Damayan, they treated you as a warm family.
Leah Obias, Campaigns Coordinator, Damayan Migrant Workers Association: Damayan is an organization of Filipino migrant workers. The people that we serve work as nannies, elderly caregivers, house cleaners, personal assistants, and other work in private households. We’re really looking to reach workers who maybe have experienced trafficking or who are in the best position to meet trafficked workers. Labor trafficking is when one person holds or obtains another person in coerced or forced labor. It’s the individual employer or trafficker who’s forcing, coercing, manipulating a worker, so the indicators that we see are usually of threats, passport and other identification theft. It’s usually restricted movement, restricted communication.
Robert Canino, Regional Attorney, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: For a case of trafficking, what we’re usually going to be looking for are signs that the workers don’t have a freedom to move about. They aren’t getting paid for the work that they’re performing. Maybe they don’t have identifying documents. They’re being made to live in substandard living conditions. They may be skilled or unskilled laborers, young or old, male or female.
Woman: I never heard them complain. You know, it didn’t cross my mind that they were being abused.
Man: When you’d ask the boys, "How’s it going," none of them ever said, "Well, this happened to me, or this happened to me," or whatever.
Robert Canino: We had a case, and it involved the apparent exploitation of American workers, and they were adults with intellectual disabilities. They were transported from Texas to a turkey processing plant in Iowa. For approximately 35 years, these adults were working for a company, for at least 40 hours per week, but only being paid $65 a month. They were hidden away from much of the world. These men were punished in cruel ways. And so, after 35 or 40 years of blood, sweat, and tears, when these men were finally rescued, they had nothing to show for it. What we find in a case like that, even involving people with intellectual disabilities, is that the things that make them vulnerable are the very same things that you might see in a case involving foreign workers.
Miguel Keberlein, Supervisory Attorney, Illinois Migrant Legal Assistant Project: The same type of force and coercion that a shackle would be is the same kind of mental anguish they’re going through with some of the things that a trafficker might threaten them with.
Keith Bickford, Detective, Multnomah Sheriff’s Office, Oregon: In order to build any kind of relationship, you have to go out to them.
Woman: ...taking this information back and utilizing your strengths...
Keith Bickford: I’m talking about everything from working with the social service providers, the clinics, the churches—anywhere where labor trafficking victims may go for strength or for help, that’s where law enforcement should be reaching out and proving that we’re serious about helping.
Miguel Keberlein: The Illinois Migrant Legal Assistance Project provides free legal services to migrant and seasonal farm workers. When we do specific outreach, we go to labor camps. Many times they have basic questions like, "Where is there a church that might have a service in Spanish?" And those open up lines of communication and talk with us.
¿Es mas duro trabajando empaquedora que en la cosecha o no?
Usually, by the second or third time, you’ll get a sense of, are there some deeper issues here that are going on?
Julie Gray, Former ICE Special Agent: I think it all starts by being a good listener and letting them know that you are going to try to do whatever you can to help.
Ronny, Survivor Advocate: I met my trafficker back in my country, Dominican Republic. They offer us job in United States working in hotels. When we came here, what happened is, there was not such a job like that. They got us a job in DVD manufacturing company. We already invest a lot of money to come, so we had to accept the job, and we did. But he treated us like we were no one. We were living in a one-bedroom apartment, and it was three people living there. My paycheck every week was, like, $39. When we were in that situation, people could see us. We were hard-working in that company. Nobody noticed anything. And then we met Catholic Charity person, and we explained her our situation, so she contacted one agent from ICE.
Julie Gray: Ronny had so many concerns. That was the biggest trust barrier to get over—to let him know that I am genuinely concerned for you and your friends and coworkers and for your families.
Ronny: They made it all possible to bring my wife and my two kids. I got a job, thanks to the people that were out there to help me. But they changed our lives. I mean, they save us. And I can tell you now because I’m a survivor of human trafficking, yeah.
This video highlights task force and other multidisciplinary initiatives, demonstrating the collaborations needed to serve victims of trafficking effectively, bring traffickers to justice, and build the community's capacity.
Faces of Human Trafficking: A Multidisciplinary Approach TRANSCRIPT:
Kate Crisham, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Western District of Washington State: Collaboration is essential to helping trafficking victims. Our task force is known as WashACT—the Washington Advisory Committee on Trafficking. We do have really strong relationships between law enforcement, the prosecutor’s office, and social service agencies who are directly serving victims. We wanted to talk about the Freedom Network.
Kathleen Morris, Anti-Trafficking Program Manager, International Rescue Committee: Having us all work together equally and recognizing equal partnership has been important to boosting victim services.
Kate Crisham: For many years, law enforcement and social service agencies sometimes were, at the very best, kind of a bit wary of each other. When you work in partnership, you’re willing to kind of break through some of those natural barriers, and that has really been essential for us with reaching out to the victims to building the great cases that we’ve been able to do.
Kathleen Morris: Having law enforcement partners who say, "We can’t do our work without service providers," really does show the rest of the community that we work with that we’re equally respected.
Woman: They’re a tremendous resource for us.
James Fitzgerald, Lieutenant, Seattle Police Department: For me, 35 years in law enforcement, the key to any success is relationship-building. I’ve met some of our collaborative individuals on a one-on-one basis. You can’t move forward unless you know the problems that your partners experience—what are some of the pitfalls, the road bumps? So establishing those individual relationships are very important.
Michelle Nasser, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Illinois: The ultimate goal of our task force here in Chicago is to raise awareness and to provide more services for the victims and to successfully prosecute the cases. One of the necessary goals along the way is to be able to provide appropriate services for the victims.
Mychell Mitchell, FBI Victim Specialist, Memphis, Tennessee: It’s all about planning to serve.
Woman: ...really having a good response from our law enforcement partners...
Mychell Mitchell: Looking at your challenges, looking at your area of expertise, and working together.
Michelle Nasser: We need to have trust between the NGOs and law enforcement so that NGOs feel comfortable coming to law enforcement when their client has given them consent to report the crime and to begin developing a prosecutable case.
Jack Blakey, Chief, Special Prosecutions Bureau, Cook County State’s Attorney Office: It builds a mutual respect for the differing roles but also the common mission that we have to serve survivors of human trafficking.
Ronny: I experienced labor trafficking. We were really scared. We were uncertain what’s going to happen. The first day that we arrived in Biloxi, we didn’t have money to buy food. And then we met social worker. An agent from ICE start interviewing us, asking questions about the case and all those things that we went through. But our case was already open in Kansas, and they start helping us. Because we provide enough information of what they did to us, they went to jail for years and years.
Stephanie Pratt, Victims of Crime Program Coordinator, Office of Crime Victims Advocacy, Washington State: Collaborations across states and across the U.S.—and actually beyond that—are really important because we can learn what’s worked in other states or other areas or territories, what hasn’t. We can learn from certain experts in certain fields, so as not to duplicate efforts that maybe weren’t really effective, and maybe try new and innovative ideas.
Jack Blakey: You really want to have a close working relationship between your prosecutors and your investigators. And by the same token, because our targets are, by definition, multijurisdictional, if we don’t have a close working relationship with our federal partners, we’re only going to see a piece of the puzzle.
Chris Newlin, Executive Director, National Children’s Advocacy Center: The more that we can help share information and communicate with one another and coordinate our efforts, then I think the better off we can be, as far as effectively developing operational plans on how to work better together.
Jack Blakey: If you see something, say something. But in order to do that, you have to be able to recognize what you’re seeing and you have to be able to know who to call. We’ve tried to have targeted outreach for specific stakeholders in the community— school professionals, emergency room professionals, cable and utility providers, truckers who are working the interstate highways, beat officers, highway patrol officers. Then the cases will come to us and to the task force. Very often, our best outcome is a victim recovery. Even if we can’t prosecute the case, we can actually give that survivor an opportunity to escape the cycle of violence. In order to do that, they need a variety of services, whether it be mental health, educational, vocational, psychological help, legal help, immigration help, or the expungement of prior records. They’re incredibly important for helping our survivors start a new part of their life.
This video includes information on the importance of providing victim-centered, trauma-informed services to meet the wide array of needs experienced by trafficking victims. Coordination and collaboration are critical in responding to the diverse population of trafficking survivors, as no one provider can meet all of the needs of all types of trafficking victims.
Faces of Human Trafficking: Effective Victim Services TRANSCRIPT
Jeri Williams, Co-founder, Survivor 2 Survivor: My first husband was incredibly violent. I left him and I moved to Portland. A young lady moved in with me to babysit my kids. Her brother was in a gang. I got jumped into the gang by being raped by all of them, and so then I was forced out onto the streets from 8 o’clock at night till 5 in the morning, 7 days a week. I felt like there was no way I could get out. I had to have engagements with 15 people a night before I could come home. I got into the West Women’s Shelter in northwest Portland. They worked with me. I had a psychiatrist. I had a caseworker. I had a counselor. And I got sent to this organization. It was run by survivors who were also the counselors. It was people saying that, "I see you and I care," because when you’re out on the streets, people look right through you like you’re invisible. And that was the thing I think that turned things around for me most.
Maja Hasic, Director, Anti-Human Trafficking Program, Tapestri, Atlanta, Georgia: The needs of trafficking victims are so great, it really takes a village to provide a full array of services to one victim. You’re relying on your relationship with domestic violence shelters. You’re sometimes relying on homeless shelters, because not many domestic violence shelters, at this time, tailor to the needs of male victims.
Kathleen Morris, Anti-Trafficking Program Manager, International Rescue Committee: It’s really important for us to provide comprehensive services to all victims of human trafficking, regardless of immigration status, background, age, gender.
Maja Hasic: The way that we provide comprehensive case management is through victim-centered approach, which means that we allow the client to tell us what their goals are and what their priorities are.
Stephanie Pratt, Victims of Crime Program Coordinator, Office of Crime Victims Advocacy, Washington State: The Victims of Crime Act provides funding to our service providers. What we really try to do is to work with our crime victim service centers in engaging individuals, building trust and rapport, being aware of the dynamics of human trafficking. And then they can provide not only support and assistance, but they can also provide emergency financial assistance to individuals that need services to help keep them safe.
Woman: I try not to think about it so much.
Jordan Greenbaum, M.D., Medical Director, Atlanta Children’s Advocacy Center: The hardest thing about providing services is maintaining the correct attitude in trying not to re-traumatize, while still obtaining necessary information. And saying, "You do not have to answer any of these questions if you feel uncomfortable," is really important, because they haven’t had control up to this point.
Kathleen Morris: Providing culturally appropriate services for our clients is so important, and to try to bring to them people who understand different cultures, who speak their language, really can help build trust.
Bukola, Survivor Advocate: My trafficker, he promised marriage, and we had actually taken the step by doing a traditional marriage. After I became pregnant, his attitude just changed. When we’d go to church on a Sunday, I would tell women I see that I could braid hair, and they would come to the house to have their hair braided, so he found out that I was good at it. Then, he decided to exploit me by taking the money. I was there without enough food. I couldn’t go out at will. I was confined in the house just braiding hair, and sometimes for up to 14 hours. A public health nurse always come to the house to visit, and I got connected with that through the WIC program. I didn’t have the courage to say anything to her. But when it was time for me to make the jump, I had to call her, and she said, "The first step is to go to the shelter." And I stayed there for 8 months with my son.
Alia El-Sawi, HIS Victim Assistance Specialist, Atlanta, Georgia: If the victim understands that they have support from the beginning, they trust and are accepting of the resources that you’re offering them.
Bukola: I was referred to a support group for immigrant women and refugees. That support group really helped me because I saw many other women in my shoes sharing their story. And some of them have gotten help, and that was really uplifting and encouraging for me.
Kathleen Morris: Comprehensive services and intensive case management and trauma-informed care all are really incredibly important in this work.
Alia El-Sawi: Understand that you’re never going to deal with a victim that’s ever like another.
Maja Hasic: We give them an array of choices and we allow them to make that choice, and that leads to self-sufficiency.
Bukola: It’s important to completely give survivors their power back by helping them. If they want to go to school, to go to school. If they want to start a trade or do their own business, to be able to start something on their own.
Kathleen Morris: The value in being able to stay with somebody long-term is really to be able to truly see them reach a point where they no longer need services. The end goal is allowing someone to create the life that they want that’s free from abuse and exploitation.
This video highlights the specific vulnerabilities, risk factors, and needs of youth, with a focus on the diverse range of professionals who are in a position to identify exploited youth and connect them with appropriate services.
Faces of Human Trafficking: Focus on Youth TRANSCRIPT
Suamhirs, Survivor Advocate Human trafficking is a crime that takes away souls, that take away memories. My trafficker was someone who knew my family. I was given specific instructions: "You’re going to do what I ask you to do. If you not, your mom and your three brothers in Honduras are going to die." So I allowed one crime to happen so another crime wouldn’t. A neighbor reported that so many people were coming in and out of the house. Then, that’s how I was rescued. Most people didn’t understand what was I going through.
Jordan Greenbaum, M.D., Medical Director, Atlanta Children’s Advocacy Center Boys are traditionally under-recognized and underserved. They don’t have specific residential treatment homes where they can go. They may go to shelters, but they don’t have the same services that girls do. And I think, across the country, more and more, there’s an awareness that this absolutely has to be addressed.
Niko, Survivor Advocate I was kicked out of my parents’ home because of my sexual orientation, and, in a lot of ways, it really conditioned me for being very vulnerable.
Sharon Cooper, M.D., CEO, Developmental & Forensic Pediatrics It took a long time for us to understand that actually these were exploited youth—typically, very vulnerable youth who have been in foster care, or homeless or runaway youth. And once we began to understand how easily they could be groomed and recruited by offenders, we then began to recognize that these were children who were being exploited.
Katherine Kaufka Walts, Director, Center for the Human Rights of Children, Loyola University Chicago Children who have been trafficked—both for actually sex and labor trafficking—are more vulnerable for a variety of reasons. Obviously their age, their developmental capacity. They’re more easily manipulated, and traffickers know that.
Linda, Survivor Advocate I was born in Ecuador. When I was 16, my step-sisters told my dad that it would be a good idea if I will come here. They say, "She could help with one baby while I work, and then she will go to school in the afternoon." I never end up going to school. I was home 24 hours with the baby, and then, little by little, she started telling me to cook, to clean. I wasn’t getting paid. I was monitored, everything that I did. I felt trapped without, like, no exit. They made me feel that they were doing something great by giving me food and giving me a place to live, and the way that I had to pay them back is doing everything for them.
Katherine Kaufka Walts There are professionals that are already working in the field with trafficking victims—child welfare agencies, child protection workers, juvenile justice professionals, including attorneys, judges, guardian ad litems, court-appointed special attorneys, case managers, social workers or foster care systems, school counselors. Some victims of trafficking are going to school. In fact, their traffickers pick them up at the end of the day.
Melinda Giovengo, Executive Director, YouthCare, Seattle, Washington Any young person is vulnerable, and one of the biggest predictive variables is a young person who has been sexually abused.
Chris Newlin, Executive Director, National Children’s Advocacy Center Child sexual abuse, human trafficking—most people, you know, think of them as separate, and I think there’s much more overlap.
Woman Before we talk about the reason that you’re here today, I want to tell you a couple of things.
Chris Newlin We need to have a well-coordinated response that cares for the well-being of the child. At Child Advocacy Centers, we always are looking at the possibility that other things may have occurred. The specific purpose of the forensic interview is to gather as much factual information—from the child’s perspective—and it’s part of a broader multidisciplinary team related to the investigation. Children who were in our treatment program last year, on average, had 8.5 different victimizations. Not until we really find out what the child has experienced can we truly provide them help.
Heather Stockdale, Executive Director, Georgia Cares There are many challenges in serving this population. People don’t understand the complex nature of this victimization.
Niko To describe the relationship between the trafficker and a victim is a domestic violence situation. There’s this connection to the abuser.
Jordan Greenbaum, M.D. In many cases, children will return to the trafficker, and they’re not ready to get out of the life at that point, and it may be months before they are—years even. But if we can establish some trust with the child, maybe that’ll make them open up next time and bring them a little bit closer to making the decision to leave.
Heather Stockdale The types of services that these victims need, of course, are trauma-informed, are comprehensive. They need time in therapy to understand their victimization.
Chris Newlin Making sure we connect them with a safe place to live but also a quality of inter-treatment therapy is absolutely critical for their viability in the long term.
Katherine Kaufka Walts One of the challenges for them is integrating back into a school system and accessing, often, specialized services to make sure that their needs are being addressed, particularly with large gaps in schooling. For foreign national children, there are clearly language barriers, so they would need English as Second Language classes in addition to mainstream education. There may be guardianship issues, so these children are navigating many different systems and different legal processes.
Melinda Giovengo Finding ways that young people can engage with communities where they can learn new skills is important. And re-engaging them with their communities of origin. Native American, the African-American and faith-based community is just tremendous in terms of helping us support our young people moving forward.
Suamhirs, Survivor Advocate Once I found the power of my story, I decided to become an advocate. I have shared my story as a way for people to be inspired to make change, as a way for people to become advocates, just like my CASA for me. Marcos, my court-appointed special advocate—he came into my life 2 days before my 18th birthday.
Marco Mares, Court Appointed Special Advocate His spirit just wasn’t there. You could see it in his eyes. And my first instinct was to try to cheer this kid up.
Suamhirs He spoke Spanish. He really came into my life and really helped me. If it wasn’t for his help and support, I wouldn’t be the advocate I am today.
Heather Stockdale We don’t have evidence-based practices for the field of trafficking yet, but we need to borrow from other fields that have seen success. And it’s working with those providers to understand what some of those unique and specialized needs of a trafficked youth might be within their existing successful system.
Melinda Giovengo And we have to remember that it is the individual child’s journey.
Marco Mares Suamhirs is a success, and having gone through everything he went through and him being the person he is now, I’m just glad that he’s able to help others.
This video details the array of comprehensive legal needs a victim of human trafficking may have, including issues of immigration, family law, housing, bankruptcy, employment law, public benefits access, criminal defense, rights enforcement, and civil actions.
Faces of Human Trafficking: Legal Needs and Rights of Victims TRANSCRIPT
Amy, Survivor Advocate: There’s a whole lot of legal needs that survivors have in so many areas—debt and bankruptcy, housing issues, criminal history issues—that are continuously impeding victims’ lives to move forward and get jobs and get housing and get financial aid.
Kate Mogulescu, Supervising Attorney, Legal Aid Society of New York City: The injustice of the criminalization of victims of trafficking is something that is so important that we remedy. New York was the first state in the country to pass a vacating convictions law for survivors of trafficking to have their criminal records virtually erased, if they can show that they were arrested and convicted of crimes because they were trafficked. In terms of legal services, civil/criminal collaboration is incredibly important. We work very carefully with immigration lawyers, with general civil legal services lawyers that deal with housing, with family law.
Jenifer Rodriguez, Managing Attorney, Migrant Farm Worker Division, Colorado Legal Services: Sometimes we have filed civil actions on their behalf. Sometimes it’s involved dealing with their immigration status. Sometimes it’s, you know, accessing medical care.
Robert Canino, Regional Attorney, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: To combat trafficking, the EEOC has a unique ability to leverage the anti-discrimination in employment laws of the United States.
Lucila Rosas, Administrative Judge, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: We can take individual charges of victims, or an organization can file a charge on behalf of a group. Oftentimes, they want to do a complaint anonymous.
Robert Canino: We’re going to seek for them compensatory damages for the emotional harm they suffered.
Lucila Rosas: Cases come to us in various ways. One is through collaboration with other agencies and interagency groups like Department of Labor, Department of Justice.
Carl Smith, Acting Regional Administrator, Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor: The labor law that we enforce that’s most frequently involved in trafficking is the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires individuals to be paid a minimum wage and overtime. It’s our responsibility to ensure that they receive the wages that they should’ve been paid.
Mychell Mitchell, FBI Victim Specialist, Memphis, Tennessee: It’s important that victims are notified regarding their rights. Victims have a right to timely notifications. Victims have a right to be heard in court. Victims have a right to be treated with dignity and respect, and a right to privacy.
Kathleen Morris, Anti-Trafficking Program Manager, International Rescue Committee: A tremendous number of our clients do not have legal immigration status in the United States, and it’s something that they generally are very concerned about when they come into our services.
Lucila Rosas: The whole threat of deportation gets taken away if they learn that there are visas that they could apply for in order to work in the United States and to stay here legally. We can certify that they are a victim of trafficking and they have been helpful in our investigation of that crime. And then that victim can apply for a T visa or a U visa.
Jenifer Rodriguez: In the Migrant Farm Worker Division, we work with victims of labor trafficking. My experience is with sheep herders.
Victor, Survivor Advocate: [speaking Spanish] I came in with a work visa called the visa H2A. As soon as we got here, I went to my employer, and they took all of my documents. There was fear, complete fear, because every day there was yelling, abuse, even pushing. It was complete fear very—humiliating. We got in touch with the attorneys from Colorado Legal Services. They helped us with clothes, food, and the money for almost three months’ rent. We’ve also had help for physical, I mean, psychological health with doctors since we found ourselves in such a depressing situation.
Jenifer Rodriguez: We were able to apply for a T visa for him. He was granted a T visa. He was able to bring his family members over here. They are now here living with him.
Victor: [speaking Spanish] And my sense of tranquility comes from the fact that we have a work permit. And this is what makes me feel more secure.
Robert Canino: We have laws in this country that protect us, whether we’re citizens, whether we’re authorized to work, whether we’re permanent residents, and even the undocumented. It’s our responsibility to provide them a remedy, because not only have they lost wages, they’ve lost an entire quality of life.
This video features survivors, service providers, prosecutors, and local law enforcement who have worked on human trafficking cases that have ended with a successful prosecution. They stress the importance of proactive cases and collecting various kinds of evidence rather than relying solely on victim testimony.
Faces of Human Trafficking: The Victim-Centered Case TRANSCRIPT
Alfred Tribble, Jr., FBI Special Agent, Houston Texas: The collaborative effort, the collection of evidence, the insertion of undercovers, and surveillance are keys to human trafficking investigations.
Jack Blakey, Chief, Special Prosecutions Bureau, Cook County State’s Attorney Office: If you can combine the lessons of organized crime with domestic violence and sexual assault, you really have the approach that’s required to successfully work these cases.
Anita Alvarez, Cook County Sheriff’s Attorney: These types of cases need to be victim-centered but not victim-built. Yes, we need to focus on that victim, and that victim should be the center of that case, but we can’t solely rely on that victim to help us make the case.
Suamhirs , Survivor Advocate: As victims or survivors, we have been through a great deal of trauma in our lives.
Keith Bickford, Detective, Multnomah Sheriff’s Office, Oregon: We start from the beginning and go very slowly, accepting the fact that one interview is not going to get all your answers.
Alia El-Sawi, HIS Victim Assistance Specialist, Atlanta, Georgia: A lot of times, if we have a minor involved, we have a forensic interview specialist.
Interviewer: José, have a seat, please.
Sharon Cooper, M.D., CEO, Developmental & Forensic Pediatrics: A forensic interviewer is a person who has been trained on how to ask questions in a non-leading fashion about how they have been victimized, and to make sure that we get as much information that would be relevant to the court with respect to what has happened to that person.
Keith Bickford: There’s a lot of trauma. There’s also a lot of memory problems, and the understanding of that is very important, too.
Kate Crisham, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Western District of Washington State: We consult with victims every step of the prosecution. We work with social service agencies in partnership.
Moderator: So, I think it was a great meeting. There was some good back and forth, and it got people, I think, thinking about what clients actually need.
Michelle Nasser, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Illinois: In order to have a successful prosecution, it involves detection of the crime, investigation, prosecution, and providing appropriate services to the victims. And for all four of those stages, it’s really important for the state and federal and local law enforcement to be able to work together.
James Fitzgerald, Lieutenant, Seattle Police Department: In our john sting, during the actual arrests, officers will want to know more from the john—if their goal was to find an underage victim, if they can identify a pimp—so give us investigative leads.
Alfred Tribble, Jr.: You’ve got everybody discussing the same leads and sharing information.
Amy, Survivor Advocate: The code enforcement and the health inspectors that already have a lawful ability to enter the businesses—they can be trained in human trafficking and look for signs without intimidating the managers and potential victims that might be in there as well.
Alfred Tribble, Jr.: They can go into an establishment with a lot less paperwork and start looking.
Michelle Nasser: We look for other corroborative evidence. Those can be weapons. It can be photos. We have found charts, which are almost the equivalent of drug ledgers, where the victims are writing down dates for the clients where they are going to go engage in a commercial sex act. Because sometimes a trafficking case is hard to make, there are other charges that either can be an addition or a replacement to a trafficking charge. There can be a child pornography charge, kidnapping charges, immigration charges, extortion charges, felon in possession of a firearm. Those charges can ensure that that evidence gets into trial. Oftentimes, the defendant will post their victims on online advertisements. We can get electronic evidence in that form that also helps to corroborate the victim.
Jack Blakey: One of the cases that we’ve worked in the task force is Operation Little Girl Lost, which was the first use of the Illinois Safe Children’s Act wiretap provision.
Anita Alvarez: And we saw victims in that particular operation—one as young as 12.
Jack Blakey: By having that insider view of electronic surveillance, were able to charge 10 individuals, and that case resulted in positive outcomes without a single victim having to testify.
Keith Bickford: Looking for labor trafficking is a lot more difficult than I thought it was going to be. You have to expand and step outside of the boundaries a little bit. I try not to show up in uniform or in a patrol car. Try to avoid interrogative type of questioning. You want to try to make them understand that they’re your main priority. Until the victim feels safe, they’re not going to be very helpful as a witness, so your case is going to be difficult to put together.
Alia El-Sawi, HIS Victim Assistance Specialist, Atlanta, Georgia: We see that a lot of the victims fear testifying in court because they fear that, what if the trafficker’s released? And they fear reprisal.
Suamhirs: My trafficker was my godmother. Going through the whole court process was not easy. One, it’s because I have to be in front of my godmother once again, and, two, because someone was trying to defend her. She was taken to jail, so she has two life—two consecutive life sentences. I needed someone to help me and guide me and be my advocate in court and help me navigate through the process.
Kate Crisham: Part of a victim-centered approach is working with the victim throughout the entire prosecution. The last thing we want is for a victim to feel re-traumatized. We may reach a resolution where a sentence may be less than a defendant would receive at trial, but it’s appropriate to keep the victim from having to experience testifying.
The concluding video in this series features survivors of human trafficking who are resilient, thriving members of their communities. They share insight on the support systems, services, and personal journeys that helped them persevere, with words of encouragement for others who were or may still be in situations of human trafficking.
Faces of Human Trafficking: Now That We Are Free TRANSCRIPT
Suamhirs, Survivor Advocate: Being a survivor is a continuous thing. We need to provide them with tools, coping skills to continue working on themselves. We really need to help people, in that transition time, find themselves, and that’s when people come into their lives and say, "Well, can I help you? Can I walk the walk with you and help you find out who you are again? What do you want to do in life? What do you want to be in life, now that you’re free, that you own your body?"
Amy, Survivor Advocate: Having a long‐term support system of people who have been there, now, for years, has been why I’ve been able to do as well as I’ve done. It’s that long term that’s important.
Ronny, Survivor Advocate: Services are so necessary, especially when you’re trying to come out of that situation, because you don’t have anything. Those services, in my case, helped me a lot.
Jeri Williams, Co‐founder, Survivor 2 Survivor: Art therapy works as a non‐traditional therapy that helps Native Americans through culturally connecting to your traditional ways. And the biggest piece that’s helped me was my spiritual piece. I had to have my spirit back. The biggest part of that was getting to know who I was. I went to becoming an organizer and fighting for people’s rights. Now I manage grants that go out to—in capacity building—to communities of color and immigrant refugee communities. My children are grown. I have nine grandchildren. I have seven grandsons and two granddaughters. My life is incredible and I feel good about myself. I know who I am.
Niko, Survivor Advocate: The biggest thing that I went through was therapy and acceptance. Acceptance that the abuse that I went through, I didn’t deserve; that I didn’t bring that on myself. I relocated out to Los Angeles for graduate school in psychology. I wanted to work with, not just the victim, but the whole victim support network—family members, friends, whoever is in their support network.
Marq, Survivor Advocate: Being a male survivor, that’s what’s needed: support. Being able to understand that it happens to everybody, you know, not just the male or the female, but to everybody. If others can see that there are male survivors, and that’s it’s okay to tell, then maybe we can get additional help out and get the word out that we’re here to help.
Victor, Survivor Advocate: [speaking Spanish] As humans and as people, we should give each other, like, a moral value and say that we are important. We are as important as them. If you have documents or if you don’t have documents, here in the United States, we have rights and there institutions that will support and help us. And so don’t stay quiet. Reach out; speak out about any kind of mistreatment or abuse. Try to communicate with those people, because if you can’t communicate, then nobody knows what is happening.
Linda, Survivor Advocate: I was a victim of human trafficking. I’m happy that I got good guidance. I work in a bank. I’m currently the operation supervisor branch manager. I created a very simple program all about banking. I was able to help these people that didn’t know the basics of banking. They felt that I helped them a lot, and that was a good experience for me.
Lydia: Hi! [speaking Filipino]
Lydia, Survivor Advocate: I want to help my community.
Lydia: Get paid for the overtime. So us at Damayan community...
Lydia: I came out from the darkness. I think that’s very powerful to meet the workers, to encourage them to really to know their rights and to be part of this community.
Amy: I never thought that what I went through would be useful. The courts have found, when they have taken any cases... Now I’m in my last year of law school and enjoying being a mom and helping train law enforcement and using negative experiences that I’ve been through to put it to something useful.
Bukola, Survivor Advocate: As a journalist, I am just one the few people who not only can write but can actually put their experiences together in a book, because writing the book was both therapeutic and challenging. I’m glad to have a second chance, and that is why I have dedicated my life to these efforts to help other victims. If you have not walked in their shoes, you have no idea what they are going through.
Suamhirs: We need to focus on the person first, because once they have a reason to be survivors, that’s when they love themselves again. They have self‐worth, and then they’re resilient and they continue—they want to continue with life.
Ronny: For a person that have been through human trafficking situation, I recommend: think about what you want, what you want to do in life. There are a lot of things out there for you. It’s never late. It’s never late. There will be a lot of people out there to help you.
On January 14, 2014, OVC debuted the "Faces of Human Trafficking" public service announcement (PSA), which is highlighted in the 2014 National Crime Victims' Rights Week Resource Guide. The goal of the PSA is to raise public awareness of human trafficking and highlight that survivors of this crime have very diverse backgrounds and experiences. The PSA is also available in Spanish, Thai, Hindi, and Tagalog.
View the PSA on OVC's YouTube page, and educate others on this issue by sharing it.
This 30-second PSA on human trafficking is one of three PSAs produced with OVC funding as part of the 2013 National Crime Victims' Rights Week Resource Guide. The message of this PSA is that young people are being trafficked for sex in our cities, towns, and neighborhoods.
View the PSA on OVC's YouTube page, and educate others on this issue by sharing it.