Medical Treatment of Victims of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence and Its Applicability to Victims of Human Trafficking. Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault as They Relate to Human Trafficking


Similar to human trafficking, the existence of domestic violence far preceded its recognition by healthcare professionals as a phenomenon that resulted in adverse health consequences that therefore needed to be addressed by them.  Despite the noteworthy differences between domestic violence and human trafficking, the victims of these crimes often suffer similar physical and mental health consequences, requiring heightened sensitivity by service providers.  Additionally, many adolescents and women are trafficked by individuals who they consider to be their boyfriends, fiancés, or lovers.  Adolescents and women may continue to have an intimate relationship with their trafficker as they are trafficked.  These relationships often mirror those in which there is intimate partner violence (Sheridan & VanPelt, 2005).

While the issues of domestic violence and human trafficking have received national focus relatively recently, attention to domestic violence precedes that given to human trafficking.  This longer period of attention has resulted in significant integration of protocols and procedures related to domestic violence into various healthcare settings.  In 1985, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists became the first national medical organization to recognize and address the issue of domestic violence (Jones & Horan, 1997), and in 1991, the American Medical Association launched a campaign against family violence (Office for Victims of Crime, 1998).  Although current practices and procedures for identifying, evaluating, and treating victims of domestic violence are not flawless, they provide an important foundation for the human trafficking field to learn from and build upon.

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