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Level 1 Student Guidebook
WARNING The trafficking and sexual exploitation of young people is an extremely difficult issue dealing with mature subject matters. This curriculum is designed for grade levels 8 – 12 and must be delivered by an educator who has completed all the instructor requirements.
EASTERN Curriculum P.O. Box 498 Old Saybrook, CT 06475 USA 860-339-5387 EASTERNCurriculum.com
EASTERN Educator And Student Trafficking Education Resource Network Educational Curriculum Protecting American Students from Commercial Sexual Exploitation Level 1 Student Guidebook
The EASTERN Curriculum is designed to educate, equip and empower students on the dangers of Commercial Sexual Exploitation in America. This curriculum is designed to protect you and your friends by providing you with important information. The knowledge you are about to be given will guard you like a shield against anyone who wants to take advantage of you. Don't lose this Guidebook. Keep it somewhere safe; someplace where you can find it easily in the future. You may need it. First, read this true account of one young woman from New England. Her name is Beverly. Beverly’s Story . . . “I was 14 years old when a man made me sell myself. At that age, I was all about finding my own identity and doing anything to go against my parents. So when a man came into my life and gave me a lot of attention and listened to me when I complained about my parents, I didn’t care that he was ten years older than me. He told me I was mature for my age and told me I understood him better than anyone his own age. I didn’t know he was just trying soften me up by making me believe he loved me. I wanted to believe him so much. And it didn’t matter what my parents said. They didn’t understand me. HE was the only one who knew what I was thinking before I did. After six months, I thought I loved him, at least that is what he told me, so I did what I thought my heart was telling me and ran away to be with him. We ended up in Cleveland, Ohio. He told me we were going to meet the rest of his family. I didn’t know his family meant myself and three other girls. After I was introduced to them I was told what my role would be. I would go out to work that night and bring him back the money. He told me that’s how we were going to build our dream home. He always told me he loved me no matter what, but he needed to know how much I loved him by making sure I would do anything for him. So I did.
Section One The Law of the Land
What Is COMMERCIAL SEXUAL EXPLOITATION? Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a serious federal crime with penalties of up to imprisonment for life. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) criminalizes human trafficking and defines Commercial Sexual Exploitation as “severe forms of trafficking in persons” states that the crime is: “(A) sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or (B) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.” [U.S.C. §7102(8)] In short, human trafficking is modern-day slavery . . . and anyone under 18-years old who is involved with prostitution is a victim. Commercial Sexual Exploitation can occur when minors (under the age of 18) made to perform sexual acts anything with a commercial value. This is critical to separating the crime of trafficking from sexual assault, rape, or molestation crimes against underage victims. The term “commercial sex act” is defined in the TVPA as the giving or receiving of anything of value (money, drugs, shelter, food, clothes, etc.) to any person in exchange for a sex act. Importantly, the money or item of value provided for the sex act can be “given to or received by any person.” This means that the child can be the direct recipient of the money, food, and/or shelter, and the situation is defined as sex trafficking and, most importantly, the child is defined as a victim of domestic minor sex trafficking. This issue arises frequently in cases of homeless youth engaging in “survival sex” to secure food, housing, transportation, and other items of survival. In the absence of a trafficker/pimp selling the youth, the perpetrator paying for the sex act with food, a bed, or a ride can become the trafficker. The TVPA goes on to establish rights that underage victims of COMMERCIAL SEXUAL EXPLOITATION are entitled to, including: The right not to be detained in facilities inappropriate to their status as crime victims; The right to receive necessary medical care and other assistance; The right to be provided protection if a victim’s safety is at risk or if there is a danger of additional harm by recapture of the victim by a trafficker. These rights are not being provided uniformly across the United States as first responders and juvenile justice struggles to identify the victims and respond within a system ill-equipped to protect the victims of domestic minor sex trafficking. When the victim of trafficking is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident minor they often are placed in juvenile detention facilities or sent back to a home from which they are easily found and re-trafficked by their trafficker.
What Is the Extent of Human Trafficking in the United States? Contrary to a common assumption, human trafficking is not just a problem in other countries. Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and some U.S. territories. Victims of human trafficking can be anyone under 18-years-old or adults, U.S. citizens or foreign nationals, male or female. According to U.S. government estimates, thousands of men, women, and children are trafficked to the United States for the purposes of sexual and labor exploitation. An unknown number of U.S. citizens and legal residents are trafficked within the country primarily for sexual servitude and, to a lesser extent, forced labor. How Does Human Trafficking Affect Our Schools? Commercial Sexual Exploitation often involves students in Jr. High Schools and High Schools. Sex traffickers target young people because of their vulnerability and gullibility, as well as the market demand for young victims. Those who recruit minors into prostitution violate federal antitrafficking laws, even if there is no coercion or movement across state lines. Those at risk are not just high school student. There have been several cases of studies pimps recruiting victims as young as 12. Traffickers have been reported targeting their minor victims through telephone chat-lines, clubs, on the street, through friends, and at malls, as well as using girls to recruit other girls at schools and afterschool programs. What are Victims Rights and Needs? Victims have a legal right to be provided with immediate security, food, clothing, safe housing, medical attention, language interpretation, legal services, short- and long-term mental health counseling, living assistance and cash, assistance with legal status, and several other services focusing on restoring their lives.
"When I look back to when I was innocent, I was happy. I know my life will never be the same. I just want my kids to know what a beautiful woman is." Simone Human Trafficking Survivor
Myth Busting There are a lot of myths about human trafficking. We're going to put those to rest right now.... Myth Number One: Slavery ended. It didn't. Certainly legal slavery has ended around the world and has been denounced by the United Nations since 1948, but the enslavement of people has never gone away. In fact, slavery ― one person holding another in bondage for their personal gain ― may be more in practice today than at any point in human history. Myth Number Two: Trafficking occurs mostly in other countries, rarely in America. Wrong. The 2010 Trafficking In Persons Report (TIP), submitted annually by the US Department of State stated, "More U.S. citizens, both adult and children, are found in sex trafficking than labor trafficking; U.S. citizen child victims are often runaway and homeless youth." Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children told Congress, “When they hear the term “child trafficking,” most Americans think that it only happens somewhere else, in Southeast Asia or Central America. One police commander said to me, 'the only way not to find this problem in any community is simply not to look for it.'” Myth Number Three: Most victims in America are from other countries. Nope. The vast majority of victims in America are American. Again, Ernie Allen, told Congress Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children told Congress, “Even if people acknowledge that this crime happens in the United States, they assume the victims are foreign children brought into this country who are trafficked only in large cities. In fact, we have learned that most of the victims of domestic minor sex trafficking are American kids who initially leave home voluntarily and are being trafficked on Main Street USA." Myth Number Four: Trafficking occurs only in cities where minority victims from poor backgrounds are found. False. Human Trafficking doesn't care who you are. Many victims are from suburban or rural areas. Many, if not most, are NOT minorities. Its victims come from every ethnic and socioeconomic background. Myth Number Five: To be considered trafficking, victims must be taken from one place to another; across national borders, or across state lines. Totally Not True. While it often involves movement, trafficking does not require transporting or moving people to be considered a crime. Even though it has the word "trafficking" in it a person can be a victim of sex trafficking without ever leaving his/her home. It's a crime of exploitation not transportation. Myth Number Six: This is a victimless crime because most young women are prostitutes by choice and they make a lot of money. Dead wrong. If a pimp is involved in an act of commercial sexual exploitation, force, fraud, or coercion will eventually be used. His victims aren't getting paid because they are a kind of slave and slaves don't get paid.
Myth Number Seven: Victims are kidnapped. Wrong again. While kidnapping for CSE does occur ― it's extremely rare. Pimps/traffickers do everything possible to remain invisible. Kidnapping a girl is bad for "business." It's far easier to recruit or coerce victims; even romance and seduce them. Pimps are skilled at seduction and are on the lookout for vulnerable girls. Such girls are the ones with lower self-esteem, with family and/or peer problems, and that appear shy and submissive. Once spotted, pimps employ strategies not unlike methods used to recondition soldiers in prison camps: a honeymoon period of "wooing" occurs, with pimps' spending money on the girl, taking her to nightclubs and other "sophisticated" parties, making the girl fall madly in love with him. Next comes the part where he starts isolation tactics, pulling her away from family and friends creating a rift between them and her. Then he employs tactics of fear - usually fear that she will lose him or displease him, and sometimes even fear of physical violence to her and to her family. To keep his approval she will likely turn a few tricks like he asks, and thus receive lavish praise from him. At this point his work becomes relatively easy, as her behavior of turning tricks will severely damage her fragile self-esteem and she will begin to see herself as a "whore" or "hooker". She quickly becomes convinced that she is worthless, and is utterly grateful that her boyfriend, now pimp, even wants to be around her. She will willingly hand over all of her money, and put up with violence and abuse just to keep in relationship with him. Young girls and women that are trafficked into the sex trade have different stories, but the end result is the same: the dehumanization and victimization of those helpless to change their circumstances. Myth Number Eight: Human Trafficking in America is new. Sorry. It's really old. Reports of non-slavery related CSE go back to at least to 1843. That year, American author Richard Dana wrote this in his journal, "I observed that there were a great many girls of from 8 or 10 to 12 or 14 years of age in the street and going in and out of the houses. The greater part of the women in this course of life are victims of seduction, from other places, and from respectable situations in life, who come or are enticed by cunning." Then, in 1910 the White-Slave Traffic Act of 1910, otherwise known as The Mann Act, was passed to address prostitution, immorality, and human trafficking. "People don’t realize what you go through, what you come in contact with, what you experience. There’s so much that people don’t know – like just the raw, nasty putrid shit of it. Your living conditions, the lack of food, clothing, everything. The way you’re spoken to, the way you’re treated. You’re beaten . . . You don’t do that to a dog. It’s more than just overcoming a drug addiction. There’s how it affects your mental health, your physical health, your finances – everything. You literally have to pick yourself up and pick up little tiny slivers of what’s left of your life. And you have to do it gracefully. And you have to do it with pride and you have to keep your head up. You have to just ignore all the crap you hear people saying about you. And to do that by yourself is not an easy thing. You just can’t stop caring. You just can’t stop because it’s a hard thing to do. There’s only a select few people that seem to be on our side and want to fight the same battle we do." Danita Human Trafficking Survivor
It's Not Just About Sex
Commercial Sexual Exploitation is one of several crimes often placed within the realm of human trafficking. Other major forms of trafficking include: Forced Labor Considered to be the largest sector of human trafficking in the world, forced labor is defined in various ways, but certain factors are common among its practice. Victims are induced into slave-like exploitation through fraud, force, or coercion; they receive little or no pay; they are subject to physical, sexual, and psychological intimidation and abuse; and they are not free to leave their situation. Forced labor is found in almost every sector of agriculture, manufacturing, domestics, and nearly every business activity in which unskilled labor is needed to generate a profit. “Human trafficking is a heinous international crime,” stated the US Department of Homeland Security. “It is unfortunately flourishing due to the current global financial crisis. With global demand for labor decreasing, impoverished workers find themselves taking greater risks than before in order to survive. The result: ‘a recipe for greater forced labor of migrant workers and commercial sexual exploitation of women in prostitution.’” Domestic Servitude Within international Forced Labor, Domestic Servitude is an enormous sector of human trafficking. Its victims ― of both sexes and all ages ― are often forced into grueling service as house servants, housekeepers, as well as care givers for children, the elderly, and the ill. Not limited to just one activity, they are frequently called upon to perform any duty the family keeping them insists upon. They are rarely allowed to leave the particular premises in which they are imprisoned or seen by those from the outside. With the “masters of the house” controlling every aspect of their lives, they often experience ongoing sexual abuse. Child Soldiering Armed conflicts pervade human history. Boys and girls used forcibly used as soldiers has been as common as war itself ― both historically and contemporarily. Susceptible because of their age, poverty, and lack of education, children are recruited by manipulation, force, or threats. Often abducted at school, on the streets, or at home, they are inadequately trained, treated harshly, and rapidly pushed into combat. Once forced into service, they are used in battle, for sexual purposes, as spies, or to clear landmines. Forced Marriage In many parts of the world, it is common for a young girl to be promised ― sold ― into marriage with a much older man. Money changes hands and the family is pleased to have one less mouth to feed, especially in cultures which do not value female lives as highly as males. No matter how old she is, her childhood is over. Forced into constant domestic service, she will no longer be educated, allowed to develop freely, or even have access to basic healthcare. She is expected to become pregnant almost immediately, even at an early age. She is now the property of her husband. With her freedom gone, the course of her life has been hijacked.
Organ Harvesting Increasingly, medical science advances our ability to save and improve lives by using body parts from other humans. Since the early 1970s, when drugs were developed to control the body’s rejection of foreign objects, organ transplantation has developed from being an experimental procedure performed in a few advanced medical centers, to a fairly common operation performed in hospitals and clinics throughout the world. This rapid spread of transplant capabilities has created a global scarcity of transplantable human organs. Looking at the market for human body parts from a completely inhuman perspective, is there really a shortage? In 2011, the global population was estimated to reach seven billion people. From organized crime's perspective that equates to seven billion human factories potentially producing body parts for those who need them and are willing to pay for them. In their view, there is no supply problem. This only presents the problems of acquisition and distribution, which like all forms of human trafficking is solved in large part by the Internet where the trade in human flesh is carried out with little risk of exposure.
"You know sometimes I sit here and think, 'maybe I was a victim of my own devices.' Had my life become just that unimaginable that I really was looking for someone to take control and tell me what to do and how to do it, who to be? Is there a day when judgment will come for me and condemn me once again? Have I sinned? Was it all my fault? Then I talk to someone on the streets or think back to conversations in jail with other girls who are streetwise, and even they tell me that there is a reason for me to tell my story. They say what happened to me isn't right and that they’re sad to hear me speak of such things. They cry and can't get over my story and want me to tell more of it to them and others, like little kids waiting for the reader to turn the page. I think, well then there is a reason why I am so open about it and why I think people should listen. Though it feels like so often like I am screaming at the top of my lungs and no one hears me and no one cares to listen. If they are interested in my raw and unedited details of this whole ordeal then maybe there is a reason for me to pursue this and keep on truckin'. Otherwise there are so many days that go by and I think that this is going to get me nowhere and that my story is useless." Marie Human Trafficking Survivor
Red Flags For Commercial Sexual Exploitation You didn’t ask for this, but it’s yours. If a car crashed in front of you and no one else was around, you wouldn’t just walk away. You would call 911 and try to help the people involved. Trouble is, car crashes are obvious. You don’t have to wonder if you’ve seen one or not. If a friend or someone you know is being exploited for sex, it’s not so easy to spot. It’s a car crash that’s trying to hide, but it’s just as dangerous . So you have to know what to look for. Once you know what it looks like, you might just be able to save someone’s life. The following is a list of warning signs for Commercial Sexual Exploitation or potentially abusive relationships. They are presented as guidelines and cues to pay attention to, not as judgments on the worth of the other person. No one determining factor can be made if a young woman (or man) is a victim of commercial sexual exploitation. In determining the potential victim’s status, it is essential to ask questions in a nonjudgmental manner. Let the person know it is safe to tell you the truth. Keep in mind this is a victim, not a criminal suspect. To begin, there may be trouble if: She has visible signs of abuse, including unexplained bruises, black eyes, cuts, or marks. She has behaviors consistent with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, such as fear, anxiety, or hyper-vigilance. There is a change in her physical appearance, including but not limited to: o New, expensive clothes o Sexually suggestive clothes, either being worn or found hidden o Always has at least one change of clothes. o Frequent changes of the color or style of her hair. o Suggestive make up. o New piercings. She has a tattoo which she is reluctant to explain. o She may have been tattooed (or branded) by a pimp. Girls are often tattooed on the neck, chest or arms with their pimp’s name. She appears exhausted. She wants to sleep during the day and is awake at night. She has unexplainable absences from her home or residential program; for example: The victim goes on the run on Friday and returns on Sunday night. She is gone for a length of time and reports that she was in New York City or some other major city. She runs away with relative frequency and will not disclose where she has been. She has one or more multiple cell phones which she hides and which ring at all hours of the day and night. She uses language from ‘the life,’ such as referring to her boyfriend as ‘daddy’ or using her own street name. She is involved with a male who has one or more the following characteristics: o He is older than her. o He goes by a street name, and she does not know his real name. o He always lots of cash on him, but she does not know how he makes a living. o He is controlling or even violent toward her. o He buys her a cell phone, clothes, jewelry, etc. She has a history of multiple Sexually Transmitted Infections and/or pregnancies.
RED FLAGS Continued She has or is knowledgeable about contraceptives of all kinds. She is frequently truant from school. She has an interest in pornography, ‘exotic dancing,’ or other parts of the commercial sex industry. She has new friends, not from her traditional circle, but who are often much older than her. She becomes disconnected from: o Previous friends. o Previous interests, hobbies, sports, etc. o Family and caregivers. She loses interest in all ‘age appropriate’ activities. If online exploitation is occurring, there may be signs of the following: o She becomes interested in computers and online communications, such as adding a video camera to her computer. o She spends large amounts of time online, especially behind closed doors and late at night. o Pornography or links to pornographic sites are found on her computer. o She reacts quickly to turn off the computer or monitor when someone walks in the room. o She becomes emotionally and socially detached and withdrawn. o She has multiple online accounts or uses someone else’s to several social networking or ‘dating’ sites. o She has a sexually explicit online profile on multiple social networking or ‘dating’ websites. o She frequents or monitors internet chat rooms or classified ads, such as Backpage.com.
How Do I Identify a Victim of Human Trafficking? Has unexplained absences from school for a period of time, and is therefore a truant Demonstrates an inability to attend school on a regular basis Chronically runs away from home Makes references to frequent travel to other cities Exhibits bruises or other physical trauma, withdrawn behavior, depression, or fear Lacks control over her or his schedule or identification documents Is hungry-malnourished or inappropriately dressed (based on weather conditions or surroundings) Shows signs of drug addiction Demonstrates a sudden change in attire, behavior, or material possessions (e.g., has expensive items) Makes references to sexual situations that are beyond age-specific norms Has a “boyfriend” who is noticeably older (10+ years) Makes references to terminology of the commercial sex industry that are beyond age specific norms; engages in promiscuous behavior and may be labeled “fast” by peers.
You may be seeing signs of Commercial Sexual Exploitation if you know someone who is involved with someone who: Abuses alcohol or drugs. Has a history of trouble with the law, get into fights, or break and destroy property. Doesn't go work or go to school. Blames your friend for how they treat them, or for anything bad that happens. Abuses siblings, other family members, children or pets. Puts people down, including family and friends, or calls them names. Is always angry at someone or something. Tries to isolate the person you know and controls who they see or where they go. Nags them or forces them to be sexual when you don’t want to be. Cheats on them or have lots of partners. Is physically rough with your friend (push, shove, pull, yank, squeeze, restrain). Takes their money or takes advantage of them in other ways. Accuses them of flirting or “coming on” to others or accuses them of cheating. Doesn't listen to the person you know or shows no interest in their opinions or feelings. . .things always have to be done their way. Ignores them, gives them the silent treatment, or hang up on them. Abandons them places. Makes them call or contact them frequently or at specific times. Lies to them, doesn't show up when promise, maybe even disappears for days. Makes vulgar comments about others in your presence Blames all arguments and problems on them. Tells them how to dress or act. Threatens your friend if they ever leave or break 'the rules.' Experiences extreme mood swings. . .tells them they are the greatest one minute and rips them apart the next minute. Tells them to shut up or tells them they're dumb, slut, ho, stupid, fat, etc. (directly or indirectly). Compares your friend to others. Some other Signs might include: Your friend is afraid to leave the person. They feel tied down, like they always have to check-in. They are afraid to make decisions or bring up certain subjects so that the other person won’t get mad. Your friend tells herself that if she just tries harder and 'loves him' enough that everything will be just fine. The person you know is crying a lot, being depressed or unhappy. She is worrying and obsessing about how to please 'please him' and keep him happy.
Signs of physical or emotional abuse getting worse over time. These can include evidence or talk of: Pinch / Squeeze Push / Shove Shake / Jerk Slap Bite Push / Shake / Slap that bruises Punch / Hit Kick Choke Throwing objects Targeted physical blows to specific parts of the body Use of household objects as weapons Throwing person Restraining and physical blows Abuse that requires medical treatment Abuse that results in lacerations, broken bones, internal injuries, or miscarriage Use of conventional weapons Abuse that leads to disfigurement or disability Murder Signs of emotional and psychological abuse can include: Making insults Joking constantly/awkwardly about habits Ignoring partner’s feelings Withholding approval as punishment Yelling Name-calling Calling partner a “sell-out” Repeated insults / labeling Threatening to “out” partner Humiliation in private Ridiculing partner’s gender identity Humiliation in public Blaming partner for all faults Threats of violence / retaliation Putting down partner’s abilities to act on own behalf Hiding/destroying partner’s adaptive equipment Demanding all of partner’s attention / restricting contact with others Unpredictable consequences of actions Attacking sense of reality Murder
Signs of Sexual Abuse can include: Sexist jokes Sexual objectification Jealousy Minimizing partner’s feelings and needs regarding sex Criticizing partner sexually Unwanted touch Withholding sex and affection Sexual labels like “whore” or “frigid” Always demanding sex Forcing partner to commit humiliating sexual acts Cheating Forcing partner to watch sexual acts with others Demanding sex with threats Forcing sex Forcing sex with others Forcing uncomfortable sex Forcing sex after beatings Sadism Murder Are you being abused? Are you frightened by your partner’s temper? Are you afraid to disagree? Are you constantly apologizing for your partner’s behavior, especially when he or she has treated you badly? Do you have to justify everything you do, everywhere you go, and everyone you see just to avoid your partner’s anger? Does your partner put you down, but then tell you that he or she loves you? Have you ever been hit, kicked, shoved or had things thrown at you? Do you not see friends or family because of your partner’s jealousy? Have you ever been forced to have sex? Are you afraid to break up because your partner has threatened to hurt you or himself or herself? Has your partner ever threatened your life or the life of someone close to you?
HELPING A FRIEND WHO IS BEING ABUSED Many students are victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation each year. If you are concerned about a friend, perhaps you feel the problem will work itself out. This is very unlikely. This crime against young people usually continues and often gets worse over time if no action is taken to stop it. You can help your friend by being honest about your concerns. Say something. Things that might be keeping you from saying something: It can’t really be that serious. Acts of commercial sexual exploitation are rarely a one-time occurrence and usually escalate in frequency and severity. It can seriously affect the victim’s health and well-being. This is something you must take seriously. My friend must be doing something to cause this. A victim commercial sexual exploitation is never to blame for another person’s choice to use violence against her/him. Selling someone or forcing them to do something they don't want to do is never acceptable. If it’s so bad, why doesn’t she just leave? For most of us, a decision to end a relationship is not easy. Your friend’s emotional ties to her trafficker - or lets' be honest, her pimp - may be strong, supporting the hope that the violence will end. Perhaps your friend doesn’t know about available resources, or maybe social and justice systems may have been unhelpful in the past. Perhaps when your friend has tried to end the relationship in the past, herpartner may have used violence to stop her/him. These are just some of the many compelling reasons that may keep someone in an abusive relationship. I shouldn’t get involved in a private matter. This is not a “personal problem”. It is a crime with serious repercussions for your friend, your friend’s partner, and your entire community. I've met him. I really don’t think he could hurt anyone. Men who are guilty of Commercial Sexual Exploitation are not violent in other relationships and can be charming in social situations, yet be extremely abusive and violent in private. The abusive person must be sick. Using violence and abuse is a learned behavior, not a mental illness. People who use violence and abuse to control their partners choose such behavior; viewing them as “sick” wrongly excuses them from taking responsibility for it. I think the abusive person has a drinking problem. Could that be the cause of violence? Alcohol or drug use may intensify violent behavior, but it does not cause violence or abuse. People who engage in abusive behavior typically make excuses for their violence, claiming a loss of control due to alcohol/drug use or extreme stress. Acting abusively, however, does not represent a loss of control, but a way of achieving it. How can my friend still care for someone who abuses her? Chances are, pimp is not always abusive. She may show remorse for the violence after it happens and promise to change. Your friend may understandably hope for such changes. Their relationship probably involves good times, bad times, and in-between times. If my friend wanted my help, she would ask for it. Your friend may not feel comfortable confiding in you, feeling you may not understand her situation. Talk to her about the abusive behaviors you have noticed, tell your friend no one deserves to be treated in that way, and ask her how you can help.
What You Can Do to Help:
Say something. Lend a listening ear. Tell your friend that you care and are willing to listen. Don’t force the issue, but allow your friend to confide in you at her own pace. Never blame your friend for what is happening or underestimate her fear of potential danger. Focus on supporting your friend’s right to make her own decisions. Become informed. Find out all the facts you can about commercial sexual exploitation. Contact the police or call the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 888-373-7888. Guide your friend to community services. Gather information about trafficking victims services and programs in your area. These programs offer safety, advocacy, support, legal information, and other needed services. If your friend asks for advice on what she should do, share the information you’ve gathered. Let your friend know your she is not alone and people are available to help. Encourage her to seek the assistance of trafficking victim advocates. Assure her that they will keep information confidential. If your friend decides to get out. Help her make a plan to be safe. She may want to call a local victim services to help create a “safety plan.” Human trafficking assistance programs can help her look at her options and make a plan to be as safe as possible. Victims of commercial sexual exploitation may face the greater risk when they try to end the abusive relationship. If the abusive person has lost control, he may become very dangerous. Focus on her strengths. Your friend has probably continually been told by the abusive person that she is a bad person, a bad student, or a bad friend. Your friend may believe she can’t do anything right and that there really is something wrong with her. Give her emotional support. Help her examine her strengths and skills. Emphasize that she deserves a life that is free from abuse, exploitation, and violence.
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