As awareness about human trafficking has grown, many states have now begun to pass legislation requiring healthcare providers to complete continuing education on the topic prior to license renewal. These guidelines are changing rapidly, but attempts have been made to collate all requirements and can be found here. Most training requirements require or encourage a focus on trauma-informed care as well as a general understanding of human trafficking to assist with screening and response. It is essential focus to not only on individual healthcare providers, but on facility-level and society-level responses as illustrated below in the socioecological model.
All of these approaches recognize that health care providers may encouter victims of human trafficking while they are still being trafficked. Many victims are abused or injured during their exploitation. Victims may decide on their own to seek out healthcare or are forced to by their traffickers in order to return to work more quickly.
Case Studies Spotlight on Human Trafficking in America
Ashley was 16 years old and living in foster care in Minnesota. She connected with a man who promised to take care of her and be her boyfriend. He sent her bus tickets to join him in California. She ran away from foster care to be with him. When she arrived he forced her to sell sex. If she refused he beat her into compliance. Eventually Ashley decided to confide in a customer who took her to a hotel in a different city. At the hotel Ashely met a man who offered to protect her. He told her she would sell sex for him, but he would not beat her up. Ashley wanted his protection so she agreed. He took her and two other victims to cities across the U.S. She was sold for sex in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Illinois, and Texas. However, he didn’t keep his promise to Ashley. He took all the money she earned, beat her, and gave her drugs. He was arrested one night after getting into a fight. He pled guilty to sex trafficking and was sentenced to 15 years.
* Individual’s name has been changed for their protection