Within the past decade, the issue of human trafficking has become more recognized as media, victim rights movements, law enforcement, and communities grapple with the definitions of trafficking, the needs of survivors, and strategies around awareness and prevention. It affects people of all ages and genders and can occur both domestically and internationally. Victims are often targeted due to social inequities and poverty.
Coalitions have long been aware of and have worked to address the issue of trafficking as it intersects with sexual violence. Some coalitions are still developing tailored plans to effectively serve trafficking survivors, and others are already well on their way. As a movement, we continue to struggle to integrate trafficking survivors into mainstream services created for sexual assault victims. Coalitions understand this issue but are struggling to keep up with the evolving legislative trends and the demand from system partners to fill the service gaps. Many of us continue to struggle to fit trafficking into our scope of work. Local service providers don’t always have ways to identify survivors of trafficking or have the capacity to provide effective resources for them. Many coalitions, as discussed at the RSP Topical Meeting on Human Trafficking in June 2015, have identified a clear need to train our member programs so that we can better recognize, be accessible to, and serve trafficking survivors.
The Maine Trafficking & Exploitation Network has said,
We can’t think of trafficking as separate from other challenges such as response to child sexual abuse and early trauma, mental health needs, or drug use and addiction and we have to acknowledge that the infrastructure that prevents and responds to those challenges is the same one that will address trafficking needs.