What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Survivors do not need to be moved from one location to another for it to be considered human trafficking. There are clear intersections between sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and human trafficking, with many traffickers being the survivor’s partner or loved one.
Heartly House serves as co-chair for the Frederick County Human Trafficking Response Team where we facilitate training and education to various audiences on human trafficking. The collaborative work of the response team allows us to be part of the prevention of and trauma-informed response to trafficking incidents in Frederick County.
If you’d like to have Heartly House give a presentation to your organization or group on human trafficking, please contact Jenn Metcalf at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You want to stop participating in selling or trading sex but feel scared or are unable to leave.
You don’t want to or are reluctant to engage in selling sex, but someone is pressuring you into it.
You live where you work or are transported between home and work.
Your parent, family member or partner asks you to perform sexual acts in return for housing, food, clothes, hormone treatment, and other necessities.
Your parent, family member, or partner will not allow you to meet with or speak to others alone.
Your parent, family member, or partner monitors your movement, spending, and communication.
Your earnings are confiscated or held by others, or you are indebted to another individual.
Stages of Grooming
Once the trafficker has assessed the person’s vulnerabilities and needs, they fulfill that need. They later use the survivor’s dependence on the trafficker to exploit them.
Traffickers will create a sense of dependency between themselves and the survivor so that other individuals do not influence the survivor to leave. They can directly or indirectly force the survivor to stop seeing friends or loved ones and monitor all their movements.
The trafficker will slowly exploit the survivor, like asking them to have sex with a friend once as a quick way to make money. The trafficker may say the survivor “owes” the trafficker for filling a past or present need, making the survivor feel as though they cannot say no.
Many traffickers do not use physical force to maintain control of survivors, but rather use verbal and emotional manipulation tactics by keeping them isolated and dependent on the trafficker. Some examples include forcing the survivor to take drugs and then providing money for their addiction only if they have sex with others, or by pretending to love the survivor and withholding love if they do not have sex with others.
Preventing Human Trafficking
Issues of transphobia, homophobia, classism, racism, and sexism cause certain individuals to be at higher risk of being trafficked than others. This is because traffickers prey on individuals who are desperate to meet their basic needs. In order to prevent human trafficking, we need to ensure that individuals feel supported in their community and are meeting their basic needs such as having access to appropriate housing, food, clothes, hormone treatment, etc.
child sex trafficking victims have been involved in the child welfare system in some way, such as foster care, juvinile justice systems, and others.
of youth who have been trafficked or engaged in survival sex, did so while homeless
of homeless youth identify as LGBTQIA+, as compared to 7% of the general population
of traffickers are immediate family and boyfriends
of homeless youth reported being offered work opportunities that turned out to be fraudulent, scams, or sex trafficking.
Stats from: Covenant House, Loyola University’s Modern Slavery Research Project, University of Pennsylvania, Polaris Project, Thorn.org
Interested in Learning more?
Our online resources can help you to understand, identify, and prevent abuse.