We are often asked how a trafficking survivor is identified and how they find Gray Haven.
Someone who is experiencing exploitation, whether for labor or sex trafficking, may not know they are victims of a crime. A trafficker may perpetuate ideas that they chose this lifestyle or that no one will care about them. Repeated lies about the risk of being arrested are also used to ensure someone sees their plight as the only acceptable reality. Deception is key here. Trafficking victims rarely know that human trafficking is a global issue that communities and governments are prioritizing as a major human rights issue, so it makes sense they wouldn’t identify themselves as a victim. While we don’t want someone to live with a victim mindset, but a mindset that they are valuable and strong, it is important for each person to realize what was done to them was wrong and not their fault--a mountain each survivor must overcome in their own way with strong support from a qualified organization and other healthy relationships.
Someone who is being trafficked for sex is often controlled by someone and that person can take on a role very similar to that of a romantic relationship. Because of this reality the person being victimized may interpret their experience to be domestic violence. They may perceive this person as an intimate partner who is abusing them.
This is why it’s so important for us in the anti-trafficking field to strengthen our relationships with anti-domestic and sexual violence programs to increase identification of someone caught in a trafficking situation.
Many states have domestic and sexual hotlines where someone can receive support in a safe way--hopefully able to leave a dangerous and harmful situation of violence. Hotlines like the one managed by the the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance are distributed are available in communities across Virginia leading to increased possibilities a trafficking survivor may call seeking help.
This is why we have teamed up with the VSDVAA to introduce protocols to screen for trafficking indicators and work with Gray Haven to remove the barriers that prevent identification.
With this partnership we will be able to give trafficking survivors a direct line of access to freedom.
Here at Gray Haven we have a vision to disrupt the flow of human trafficking and slavery so that no one is enslaved and every survivor is free. A key element of ending slavery is collaborating with any and everyone who has a touchpoint with trafficking survivors.