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Spotlight on Services: Helping Survivors of Human Trafficking, Increasing Awareness

Written By: The Women’s Center staff

As National Slavery & Human Trafficking Awareness Month comes to a close, we want to reiterate that the need for all of us to come together to prevent human trafficking will remain strong. It’s important to educate ourselves and each other on how to identify the signs of this human rights violation, how to help prevent it, and how to support those who have been impacted by it.

What Is Considered Trafficking?

Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain labor or commercial sex. The purpose of human trafficking is always exploitation. Sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, providing, or obtaining of a person for a commercial sex act, in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, coercion, OR in which a person is induced to perform such an act and is under the age of 18. Trafficking victims can be any age, gender, race, or immigration status.

Common myths vs. the reality (provided by the Polaris Project):

Myth: Human trafficking only happens in illegal or underground industries.
Reality: Human trafficking cases have been reported and prosecuted in industries including restaurants, hospitality, cleaning services, construction, factories and more.

Myth: Only women and girls can be victims and survivors of sex trafficking.
Reality: One study estimates that as many as half of sex trafficking victims and survivors are male. Advocates believe that percentage may be even higher but that male victims are far less likely to be identified.

Myth: Human trafficking involves moving, traveling or transporting a person across state or national borders.
Reality: Human trafficking is often confused with human smuggling, which involves illegal border crossings. In fact, the crime of human trafficking does not require any movement whatsoever. Survivors can be recruited and trafficked in their own home towns, even their own homes.

Myth: People being trafficked are physically unable to leave their situations/locked in/held against their will.
Reality: That is sometimes the case. More often, however, people in trafficking situations stay for reasons that are more complicated. Some lack the basic necessities to physically get out – such as transportation or a safe place to live. Some are afraid for their safety. Some have been so effectively manipulated that they do not identify at that point as being under the control of another person.

The Women’s Center is proud to be a co-chair of the Waukesha County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force. As Waukesha’s oldest resource for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and trafficking, we have been supporting the community for 43 years. Our 24-Hour Hotline is available, always, at 262.542.3828. Experienced staff are available 24/7, with specific training in counseling and advocating for trafficking survivors.

To learn more about The Women’s Center’s mission and the work we do, visit twcwaukesha.org. If your business or organization is interested in having a staff member provide a training on these issues, call us at 262.547.4600.