Building rapport with victims can be challenging. Setting the tone of that engagement from the outset is critical. The more law enforcement understands the factors that may influence a victim in their initial interactions, the more they can effectively partner with other task force members to address these factors in advance an interview, and respond in a supportive and comforting way.
The Victim’s Reality is Your Reality
Sometimes, when law enforcement first meets with a victim of trafficking, the victim may not act in a way law enforcement expects. Many victims do not identify as victims of anything, let alone as a victim of human trafficking. Other victims will protect their traffickers. Some victims are initially combative with law enforcement. Other victims are completely shut down and withdrawn and will not speak at all. It is important for law enforcement to expect the unexpected and not conclude that because an individual acts in a certain way, they are not a victim of human trafficking (See Section 4.1 on the role of trauma and utilizing a trauma-informed lens).