Melissa McGraw, Director of Counseling Services at Safe Passage
What is Human Trafficking?
In June several domestic violence staff attended a training on human trafficking in Springfield. Domestic violence and rape crisis centers are seeing more and more victims of human trafficking entering shelters or seeking counseling services. And, yes, trafficking is occurring in DeKalb County.
Human trafficking may involve either sex trafficking or labor trafficking. It includes recruiting, harboring, or obtaining a person by force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude or the sex trade. There is an intersection between domestic violence and trafficking in that survivors of trafficking may be trafficked by an intimate partner or family member. Contrary to popular belief, victims of trafficking are not always immigrants from other countries. Victims of trafficking may not immediately identify that they are being trafficked. Advocates and counselors are learning to ask specific questions to help identify if their clients are not only victims of domestic violence or sexual assault but also may be victims of trafficking.
Trafficking survivors often present with significant trauma histories and symptoms as a result of their traumas. The counseling staff have worked to help these clients identify and process their feelings of shame and betrayal related to being trafficked by someone they thought they trusted and loved. This may be a long-term process that also involves connection to case management and legal services.
As a result of this training, Safe Passage has staff who are more equipped to identify and meet the unique needs of trafficking survivors.
If you’d like to learn more about trafficking and how to recognize and support survivors OR if you think you may be a victim of trafficking, call us 24/7 at 815-756-5228.