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

07/30/2008

While the needs are relatively similar regardless of whether someone is an international or domestic victim, adult or minor, one point is clear-the magnitude of these needs varies for each victim depending on his or her circumstances.

For example, international victims often express a greater and more urgent need to obtain employment than domestic victims do. This is reportedly the result of their desire to send money back home to support their families.

Additionally, while obtaining identification documents (e.g., passports, birth certificates, drivers licenses) is reported to be an important need for all victims in order to access services, it is especially important for international victims to have some form of identification or legal documentation on hand. One service provider told of an incident where a client was removed from public transportation and placed in detention because the client did not have any identification on his/her person and had not yet received his/her certification letter indicating he/she was a victim of human trafficking. This experience exacerbated the clients situation and need for ongoing legal assistance.

Legal assistance is one other area where there are differences in degree or type of need between international and domestic victims. While both have legal needs, international victims, often in the U.S. illegally, have more complex legal needs usually related to their immigration status. This includes needing representation at deportation hearings, assistance with applications for T visas and derivative visas, and renewal applications.

While it is not necessarily unique to domestic victims, service providers report that domestic victims often present with serious substance abuse issues. Some providers report that while international victims also need assistance with similar problems, they are less likely to admit they have a problem out of shame, fear of stigma, or denial that their substance abuse constitutes a problem. In some cases, the service providers do not want to indicate this as a need of international victims for fear access to treatment records will be subpoenaed and used against the victim in a legal case (criminal, civil, or immigration).

Regardless of the victim, law enforcement and service providers stress that it is not so much the type of needs that vary by victim, but the duration of services required to address those needs and the level of difficulty obtaining such services.

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