Many trafficking overcomers don’t know what human trafficking is or that they have lived through it until well after the fact. Frequently, people do not discover that the horror they lived through has a label until years or decades later. Sometimes, awareness comes through a social media or blog post that clues them in. Other times, it is a presentation at church, on the news, or a volunteer training from a local safe home. Occasionally, awareness comes through services such as therapy, chemical dependency treatment, trauma recovery coaching, or guidance through a social service agency.
Whatever it is, that initial experience of recognition can bring with it a flood of emotions- validation, relief, anger, denial, grief, tears of all kinds, or the desire to learn more, connect, and heal in new ways.
If you identify with what you read below and need support, Love Powered Life offers a free support group for survivors of human trafficking. If you are the partner or loved one of someone who has been trafficked, my dear friend and colleague (Heather Tuba) offers a free support group for family members who live with trauma survivors.
First, contrary to popular belief, human trafficking has nothing to do with travel or crossing borders- that is human smuggling, which is an entirely different crime.
The most important thing to remember about human trafficking is that it uses force, fraud, or coercion to exploit people for sex, services, or labor. In addition, anytime a child under the age of 18 is involved in a commercial sexual act it is considered sex trafficking.
What is Force? Force is making someone do something against their will. In sex trafficking, this could look like being locked in a room, guarded, not allowed to come and go as you please, being kept from resources (money or identification) to leave, etc.
What is Fraud? Legal Dictionary defines fraud as “the intentional use of deceit, a trick or some dishonest means to deprive another of his/her/its money, property or a legal right.” In human trafficking, this could look like false promises of an income, love, or better life with the actual intent of exploiting you for sex, services, or labor.
What is Coercion? Legal Dictionary defines coercion as “the intimidation of a victim to compel the individual to do some act against his or her will by the use of psychological pressure, physical force, or threats.” In human trafficking, this might look like threatening to harm someone’s family members or pets, beatings or threats of torture, etc.
Human traffickers use force, fraud, and coercion to exploit vulnerabilities in people for their own gain. There is nothing wrong with having vulnerabilities- we all have areas of our lives where we are susceptible to being hurt, tempted, assaulted or used. The problem is with the traffickers, who prey on and exploit those vulnerabilities for their own gain.
Human trafficking might look like forced prostitution, being lent to family members as a trade for goods/drugs or services, forced participation in pornography, any forced sexual act for profit, indentured servitude, or working for little or no pay in order to pay off a debt. Human trafficking can also look like many other things- the key component being the dynamic of force, fraud, and/or coercion. In essence, human trafficking is modern day slavery.
If you or someone you love has lived through something that could be human trafficking, or you are not sure, feel free to contact me for a free email consultation.
If you have realized that you are a survivor of some form of human trafficking, please know that you are not alone and you are worthy of support. It is my honor and privilege to walk with you on your healing journey, as you discover a greater love, safety, and freedom than you have ever imagined.