Medical Treatment of Victims of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence and Its Applicability to Victims of Human Trafficking. Introduction


In 2008, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation within the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services sponsored the National Symposium on the Health Needs of Human Trafficking Victims.  This symposium was designed to bring healthcare workers and members of the anti-human trafficking community together to discuss identification of and service provision to victims of human trafficking in medical settings.  One of the major issue areas identified during the symposium was the importance of learning from and building on best practices used by medical providers working with similar, marginalized populations.  Particular attention was paid to the efforts and ways that protocols and procedures have been established for victims of domestic violence, and whether they can be applied to or modified for victims of human trafficking.

This issue brief examines the procedures and protocols that currently exist for assessing and treating victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in healthcare settings in an effort to evaluate their applicability to victims of human trafficking.  Given the similar trauma experienced by victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking, the procedures and protocols for domestic violence and sexual assault offer the best foundation on which to learn from and build proper response systems for victims of human trafficking.  Since the procedures and protocols related to domestic violence and sexual assault typically focus on the sexual nature of the offense, this issue brief will primarily focus on victims of sex trafficking as well as victims of labor trafficking who are sexually assaulted.

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