How to recognize and help survivors of human trafficking
Mount Clemens, Mich. – January 19, 2023 – Turning Point, an agency whose mission is to empower survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence, and human trafficking through comprehensive services and resources, is joining in the national recognition of January as National Human Trafficking Prevention Month following the 2022 launch of its formal Human Trafficking Program. Sharman Davenport, Ph.D., President and CEO of Turning Point, notes that human trafficking often looks differently than most people expect.
“Many cases of human trafficking, like domestic and sexual violence, go unreported and unacknowledged because the trafficking is being done by a loved one or other trusted person,” Davenport said. “By offering services to help survivors of human trafficking, we aim to not only provide them with the resources they need to establish independence and get back on their feet safely, but also to raise awareness of the realities of human trafficking and how to help survivors.”
Human trafficking is defined as a person being compelled against their will by force, fraud or coercion into commercial sex acts or into labor or service, and it affects men, women and children. Importantly, trafficking is much more common and diverse than people think and is more complicated than what’s portrayed in popular television or movies. While these sensationalized stories capture attention, they dilute the real experiences of those being trafficked for sex or other labor who may love or trust the person trafficking them. Often individuals cannot quit because they are being threatened and exploited.
Rescue attempts can make things worse for survivors of trafficking by increasing threats to them or their families.
“People often ask us ‘how do I help someone I think may be being trafficked?’ and the most important thing anyone in the community can do is to give the person the information to our hotline so they can reach out when it is safe for them to do so,” Davenport said. “People who have been exploited and traumatized need to gain control over their lives and safety. Our hotline can be reached 24 hours a day at 586-463-6990.”
Although there are differences between domestic violence and human trafficking, traffickers practice many of the same behaviors as domestic violence abusers to exert power over others. The goal for both a trafficker and an abuser is to make a victim feel shamed, worthless, and totally dependent physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. Some questions to consider when evaluating a potential trafficking situation include: does the person report that they are working against their will? Are they working and living in the same space involuntarily? Are they working but cannot escape the situation?
As with its traditional services, Turning Point’s Human Trafficking Program provides individualized survivor-centered and trauma informed support for survivors during their healing process, including outreach, counseling, advocacy, housing, financial counseling, and job-searching assistance. Additional services are planned as the program expands. In addition to the hotline, referrals for the Human Trafficking Program are accepted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Turning Point
Turning Point provides comprehensive, free, and confidential programs for domestic violence, sexual violence, and human trafficking survivors, their loved ones, and the community. Services include a 24-hour hotline, emergency shelter, housing, trauma advocacy/counseling, personal protection order assistance, legal advocacy, forensic nurse exams, first response advocacy, prevention, and community education. Second Hand Rose, another Turning Point service, provides survivors with gently used items while providing an opportunity for the community to donate and shop. Serving Metro Detroit for more than 43 years, Turning Point has helped over 125,000 survivors. Visit www.turningpointmacomb.org for more information.