Addressing the Needs of Victims of Human Trafficking: Challenges, Barriers, and Promising Practices. Common Needs


When service providers and law enforcement personnel were asked to describe the needs of victims of human trafficking, a common response was, what dont they need. The table on the next page shows the responses given by those service providers participating in the study.(1) The safety needs of victims were identified as the first priority by all of those working with victims. According to law enforcement and providers, screening for safety needs (for both the victims and providers) is part of every assessment they conduct. Safety needs are often met when the next priority need for (safe) emergency housing is addressed. Other emergency needs include food and clothing and, for international victims, translation services to avoid feelings of isolation and to facilitate communication regarding other needs.

Once emergency needs are met, other needs that present themselves in the short- and long-term need to be met. These include housing (transitional and permanent for adults, and foster care or permanent placement for minors), legal assistance (e.g., help in understanding legal rights, legal representation and, for international victims, assistance with filing T-visa applications, and immigration petitions), and advocacy (e.g., assistance retrieving identification documents, completing applications, attending appointments, and navigating the different U.S. systems, including criminal justice, child welfare, immigration, human services, transportation, etc.).

Additionally, service providers and law enforcement note that most victims also need health screening (tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy), vaccinations/immunizations, medical treatment for physical injuries, and dental care. Other service needs include child care (for both adults and minors with children), education (GED assistance, enrollment in school, technical training/certification), life skills training (including assisting some international victims with operation of basic household appliances, using public transportation, using a telephone, mailing a letter, etc.), job training, finding employment, financial management, and where appropriate, family reunification or repatriation.

In addition to the above service needs, service providers report that all victims of trafficking have some type of mental health need.(2) Specifically, service providers indicated that as a result of the trauma experienced, victims need trauma counseling and for domestic minor victims in particular, they often need anger management, conflict resolution, and family counseling.

Needs of Victims of Human Trafficking
  International Domestic Minors
Adults Minors
Safety X X X
Housing X X X
Food/Clothing X X X
Translation X X  
Legal Guardianship   X X
Transitional housing X   X
Long-term housing X   X
Permanency placement   X  
Legal assistance X   X
Translation X X X
Medical care X X X
Mental health/counseling X X X
Substance abuse treatment     X*
Transportation X   X
Life skills X X X
Education X X X
Financial assistance/management X   X
Job training/employment X X X
Child care X X X
Reunification/repatriation X X X
* While substance abuse treatment may be a need for international victims,
it was only identified as a need for domestic minor victims

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