[Excerpt] The United States is one of the largest markets and destinations for human trafficking victims in the world.1 If staff at your health care organization have not yet encountered a human trafficking victim, very likely they will. Knowing how to identify victims of human trafficking, when to involve law enforcement, and what community resources are available to help the individual is important information for all health care professionals.
Over a 10-year period (2007-2017), the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) received 40,200 reports of human trafficking cases in the U.S., with the greatest number of reports coming from California (1,305), Texas (792), Florida (604), Ohio (365) and New York (333).2 Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world and is the second-largest source of income for organized crime.1
Identifying and helping victims of human trafficking can be difficult and can further endanger the victim. Most human trafficking victims or their families have been threatened with harm if the victim reveals their exploitation. In some cases, victims from different countries or cultures don’t realize that their exploitation is unusual or criminal. Also, some human trafficking victims have bonded with their exploiter, a condition called trauma bonding that is similar to Stockholm syndrome. Victims may keep silent about their exploitation from shame or fear of being humiliated. Since medical care is occasionally necessary for trafficking victims, health care professionals are in a unique position to help these unfortunate victims.1
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