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Supporting Victims

The victim is at the center of any response to human trafficking.

Creating conditions of trust and respect will help victims reclaim their lives and move toward self-sufficiency and independence. All victims deserve to feel safe and supported, and when quality care, compassionate responses, and essential services are provided, not only will they recover from their victimization, but they are usually more capable and willing to present strong evidence and testimony in the prosecution of perpetrators, thereby helping to accomplish important justice and restitution goals.

Smart Practice: Key Characteristics of a Skilled Provider Working With Trauma Survivors

  • Understands that certain survivor behaviors are a response to trauma.
  • Is knowledgeable regarding the mental health [and substance abuse] effects of violence and in particular, sexual violence.
  • Is skilled and knowledgeable regarding trauma and trauma treatment.
  • Is able to provide culturally competent services and seeks supervision regarding cultural issues.
  • Is responsive to emergency mental health issues of clients.

Source: Helping Sexual Assault Survivors with Multiple Victimizations and Needs:  A Guide for Agencies Serving Sexual Assault Survivors (Davies, 2007)

In terms of supporting victims in the task force setting, it is important to strike a carefully measured balance in the relationship between the service provider and the victim in the interest of investigating the crime. As a partner in the collaborative process, the service provider does not serve as an agent in the interest of the law enforcement partners. There should not be an opportunity for the victim to perceive or conclude that the service being provided is only in the interest of investigatory needs.

Visit Faces of Human Trafficking to view related materials. View the Transcript.

Support to victims is never contingent on cooperation with law enforcement; however, advocating confidence in the work of law enforcement is important while working with the victim.


For additional information and tools, visit the Resource page for Chapter 4 Supporting Victims.