Human trafficking can happen to anyone. Join VA’s Care Management and Social Work Services to recognize Jan. 11 as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Together, we can help identify, intervene and support those impacted by trafficking.

What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking is defined as the exploitation of another person for labor, domestic servitude or commercial sexual activity by force, fraud or coercion.

Data is hard to capture primarily because the individual either lacks awareness of victimization or fears to report it. Human trafficking victims are referenced as “hidden in plain sight.”

Human trafficking and the Veteran community

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased human trafficking by more than 40% nationwide. These changes have increased the risk of exploitation among the Veteran community. Family life stressors, economic distress and limits in community resources have produced new vulnerabilities.

Veterans may experience risks that lead to exploitation, including poverty, homelessness, unemployment, existing trauma and other critical social determinants of health.

In addition to shared experiences of abuse and manipulation, intimate partner violence (IPV) is a demonstrated risk factor to increase an individual’s vulnerability to trafficking. Coercive control and power imbalance are documented interactions involving IPV and human trafficking.

These changes have the potential to markedly increase the risk of human trafficking both during and after the pandemic.

Learn more. Get help. Report trafficking.

Everyone plays an essential role in ending human trafficking. Here are several next steps you can take to learn more, get help or report trafficking:

  1.  Wear blue Jan. 11 to support National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
  2.  Educate yourself and learn to recognize the signs of human trafficking.
  3. Talk to your VA provider about concerns about your health or safety.
  4.  Contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline for help or to report trafficking. Call 1-888-373-7888 or text BEFREE to 23373.

Learn more about human trafficking, explore these links.

Links will take you outside VA websites. VA is not responsible for their content. These links do not constitute an endorsement of the non-VA websites or their sponsors.

By Amy Ashcraft is the Intimate Partner Violence Assistance program coordinator; Katie Papke is the national program coordinator for Social Work, Intimate Partner Violence Assistance

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Published on Jan. 10, 2022

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