*Part Four of a four-part series  

 ~by Amy Lynn Burch 

 Originally published on June 15, 2012 @ 3:02pm 

 

The modern day variant of human slavery known as human trafficking continues to thrive within the United States as well as on a global level.  Law enforcement officials are a critical element in combating human trafficking at the local level with effective intervention strategies having the potential to halt trafficking on a broader scale.   With the United States being one of the primary destination countries for human trafficking, it is paramount that local law enforcement take seriously the challenge to identity and stop the proliferation of the selling of human beings, particularly women children, for sexual purposes. A well trained and knowledgeable police force who understands the plight of victims and what they have suffered is essential in providing intervention. A multi-agency and interdisciplinary strategy with a vision toward rescue and recovery begins with you. Take serious your responsibility that victims are protected and those responsible are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. 

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The particular needs of sex trafficking victims include: immediate medical care for physical and psychological injuries suffered while in captivity; treatment for sexually transmitted diseases obtained while in captivity; life skills training of which they were robbed while in captivity, particularly for those children who have grown into adulthood while held captive in sexual slavery; job skills training; literacy; and childcare for those who have given birth while in captivity.  All of these needs must be addressed in the short-term as well as the long-term and available resources for the victim to obtain. The common obstacle to those victims coming of a lifestyle of abuse is money and available resources.  Victims exiting sexual slavery have no financial resources with which to receive services.  It is for this reason that advocacy intervention must occur on behalf of victims by providing the needs through public and private intervention.  Make no mistake, this is not someone else’s problem to solve!  The challenge of restoring humanity to victims is the responsibility of us all. 

One of the greatest challenges for victims of sexual exploitation due to human trafficking is the restoration of dignity which may not be tangible but is no less a need.  For the victims of sexual exploitation, the stigma of being labeled “damaged goods” by a society that fails to understand the helplessness involved in human trafficking can seem insurmountable.  It is for this reason that public awareness campaigns move beyond the mere “knowing” of victims and their plight into active and tangible intervention strategies that are well funded and well established nationwide to combat the stigma that victims face on a daily bases.  Public education regarding the reality of human trafficking and its criminal enslavement of human beings is essential in aiding and integrating the abused back into society in a meaningful and stigma-free manner.

 

Victim Needs and Services

Trafficking victims have a unique set of needs that require a multidisciplinary approach to rescue and recovery. The four general areas of need are: immediate assistance with housing, food, and clothing; mental health assistance to include counseling; income assistance to include cash and income; and legal status for those trafficked from other countries (DoD TIP).  Aside from intuition and human compassion for the needs of victims, knowing where to turn for help at the local and Federal level is your greatest tool in combating trafficking. Following is a list credible organization’s which offer aid to address the needs of victims:

 

Ayuda, Inc.

1736 Columbia Road, NW

Washington, DC 20009

Phone: (202) 387-2870

 

Boat People SOS

6400 Arlington Blvd., Suite 640

Falls Church, VA 22042-2336

Phone: (703) 538-2190

Email: bpsos@bpsos.org

 

Break the Chain Campaign

733 15th Street, NW Suite 1020

Washington, DC 20005

Phone: (202) 234-9382

Email: joy@ips-dc.org

 

Commonwealth Catholic Charities

1512 Willow Lawn DriveP.O. Box 6565

Richmond, VA 23230

Phone (804) 285-5900

 

Courtney’s House

P.O. Box 48626

Washington, D.C. 20002

Phone: (202) 525-1426

 

Covenant House

Administrative Offices

2001 Mississippi Avenue, SE

Washington, DC 20020

Phone: (202) 610-9600

 

Polaris Project

Washington, D.C. Office

P.O. Box 53315

Washington, D.C. 20009

Phone: (202) 745-1001

 

Project HOPE International

4410 Massachusetts Ave, Suite 210

Washington, DC 20008

Phone: (202)330-2800

Email: info@phi-ngo.org

 

Virginia Poverty Law Center

700 East Franklin Street, Suite 14T1

Richmond, VA 23219

Phone: (804) 782-9430 

 

© Amy Lynn Burch 2008 – 2012 

 All Rights Reserved

 No part of this work or webpage or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the author, unless otherwise indicated by the author for stand-alone materials.

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