Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking: The Crisis Women Pay for

 In Amara In The News

Human trafficking is a major concern of world governments and communities. Hundreds upon hundreds of humans are trafficked widely. In the 1990s, the definition of human smuggling and trafficking were not well defined not until the United Nations (2000) adopted the global definition for human trafficking. The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons. Using the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, or deception, the abuse of power or a position of vulnerability, or the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for exploitation. 

The United States Congress has passed an act to make human trafficking a crime and provide provisions for victims of trafficking crimes, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) (2000). It thrives in the international enterprise earning large throughout time. It is the world’s third-largest organized crime industry. In the United States, it is estimated the cases of trafficking suggested that traffickers earned $1 million to $8 million over 6 years. While globally the estimate is from $7 billion to $12 billion annually. Many victims are targeted in countries with troubled political and economic instability, the women and children are taken in as the most vulnerable based on the victimization of their poverty level. “Konrad (2002) reports that many victims “cross national borders in search of what they believe is legitimate work, but which turns out to be a form of virtual slavery or indentured servitude to employers who use them as prostitutes or in hard labour.” 

From the protection project, 2002, it is said within the United States it is estimated each year between 50,000 and 100,000 women are trafficked. The majority of these women come to the US who are originally from Southeast Asia, Latin America, and newly independent states. (Busch, et al., 2004). These women are exploited into the sex industry including prostitution, strip clubs, massage parlors, and other variety of work that includes sex services. Likely these victims of human trafficking in the US are the average age 20 years old. 

Women are the likely victims of human trafficking and intimate partner violence. They are given a lesser privilege status which places them at high risk for violence. Critics are suggesting one of the reasons behind it is Women are subjected to violence by their intimate partners to maintain a patriarchal system. A system in which men and women are divided. Not far off on society today but it is believed that if this system continues then women will experience higher rates of intimate partner violence. It is until a society built into the idea of gender-based quality for women. As for women in human trafficking, they experienced similar circumstances. Patriarchal structure societies exist in countries where women are trafficked, which relates to them being a potential target for this crime. 

Social penalties for abusers of intimate partner violence do not outweigh the benefits of the abuse to the perpetrators, in other words, the effects of the penalties are undervalued. Devaluing the problem of this crime and its society leaves many victims at risk. Similar to human trafficking, it leaves the crime of human trafficking less risky than drug or weaponry smuggling. Not grasping the attention of many people and letting it go over their heads. Penalties for human trafficking in other countries are viewed as less harsh than for trafficking illegal drugs.

The parallel between intimate partner violence and human trafficking is how perpetrators intend to gain control and power over the victims. It is strategy perpetrators use to achieve their objectives over the victim. With intimate partner violence or domestic violence, it comes in a cycle where it may start sweet and then intensity. It is a cycle used by perpetrators to again gain control and maintain power over their victims. Domestic violence experts recognize eight strategies that perpetrators of intern partner abuse used to gain control and power (Busch, et al., 2004). It can range from, threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, economic abuse, physical abuse, children, etc. Similar tactics on human trafficking where their traffickers use strategies like I mentioned to gain power and control says, researchers. In addition, is exploding women financially. Women are forced into prostitution, held hostage, and in situations where they are repeatedly violated by their traffickers. Often a victim’s trafficker throws threats and intimidation on them as a way to not allow them to escape. 

About every time, women who are in domestic violent relationships tend to suffer from mental health as a result of suffering physical, psychological, and emotional abuse. The effects of it can come across a victim having battered spouse syndrome. It is when a victim has suffered repeated violence. Whether that be physical, psychological, emotional, or sexual. This results in leaving the victim traumatized and scarred for some time. Violence in the lives of these women puts them at higher risk of substance abuse, suicide, low rates of resilience, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Victims of trafficking also suffer from such states and have exposure to illnesses, STDs, drug and alcohol addiction, or even death. A trafficked women’s life in say prostitution is extremely enclosed from the world. Almost as if she is being a hostage, her life is of extreme dependency, kept a secret, and exploited.  Their life as a victim of trafficking is the acceptance of occupational hazards, always being on edge. 

When the law is in the life of a person of either domestic violence or human trafficking, it can go not as you expected. In the 1990s, law enforcement began to shift their perspective regarding domestic violence by developing mandatory arrests and enforcing protection orders. It was done so because law enforcement and prosecutors would not interfere with a married couple having problems since it was seen as a “private family matter.” However, the dynamics have changed since what was seen before as a family matter is now seen as a crime, the battering of a woman. 

Attention to the issue of human trafficking can be done by politicians, academics, and the community to recognize the impact it has done on its community and resident. Once the attention is clear and many people are aware of human trafficking as a pressing social condition then immediate action is to be done instead of shadowing over the culture of human trafficking. Where it was once kept hidden from the public and passed over in believing the victim of trafficking was simply a whore who wanted to sell sex. 

Although the dialogue between the police and the community has led to changes in attitudes regarding the correlation between human trafficking victims and the police, it is still in dispute. Some communities including large police departments still do not have the widespread human trafficking training or specialty units to address the trafficking situation. It can result in some local law-enforcement officials not believing that human trafficking is a problem within their community. 

You may not imagine yourself not being in that position. As being a member of the community and not recognizing the signs of domestic violence or human trafficking. That it is unlikely, or it seems unreal for you to imagine such a thing. It was such old news. A little heads up, it’s never been old just hidden. People refuse for there to be a disturbance of normality in society. A man taking dominance over a woman is not unheard of, so it just makes it harder to catch. However, I say it’s our fault. We turned the opposite direction when we find something strange in a relationship that isn’t ours. Our own business deserves privacy so why interfere with someone else’s. 

You do not know what that person or woman is battling right now. Perhaps it’s a project from work, perhaps it’s the stress from finishing up the last semester, or it is hoping to not end up dead in their home. The trauma could be immense and hard for someone to achieve support by doing it alone. There’s important not to leave these women in the dark. If there is to be change then it needs to come from every one of us. Change in society, behavior, culture, or economy is to be a continuum. 

I mentioned previously how human trafficking victims are sent from their country to cross the border over to the U.S. yeah there are many cases where human trafficking victims come from the inside of our country. “According to a special report from the U.S. Department of Justice, 83% of victims of confirmed sex-trafficking incidents were identified as U.S. citizens (Banks and Kyckelhahn 2011).” That is because human trafficking within the US can happen anywhere. That includes both illicit and legal industries, hospitality, traveling sale crew, janitorial service, construction, restaurants, salon services, massage parlors, fairs and carnivals, and daycares. 

 The first people to help identify which victims are subject to human trafficking are emergency providers. Emergency providers include physicians, health workers, nurses, and other essential staff. How this is done is the nature of emergency medicine allows there to be some interaction between a victim of human trafficking with all the different demographics with the emergency providers. Victims of human trafficking would come for regular healthcare checkups. Most of the time they wouldn’t come alone but with their traffickers with all the appropriate documents and answers to all questions asked by emergency providers. Therefore, traffic victims would rarely self-identify or report their abuse to them. The stigma where victims of human trafficking do not feel as if they will get the proper treatment they expect. If they are to reveal themselves as victims, they may come as shameful or guilty. They are in the belief of being arrested or retaliated against. As law-enforcement officials need to identify what human trafficking or domestic violence can look like out in the open, emergency providers need to have the proper training. Understanding what to look for in recognizing a potential victim of human trafficking. To recognize indicators can help them be alerted to the possibility of their patient being a potential trafficked victim.  

The keyword here is to grab the “attention” of law enforcement, grab the “attention” of the residents of the community, and grab the “attention” of emergency healthcare providers. The topic of human trafficking has gained attention from both the media and within the healthcare disciplines. As for law-enforcement officials, it is important for them to not take into account that victims are not to be attacked for what they do. It is for survival, the survival I’m trying to provide for themselves or their families. The same goes for victims in domestic violent relationships. Law-enforcement officials should not have the idea believing if they want to escape an abusive relationship then all she needs to do is walk out of it. Walking out of an abusive relationship is the most dangerous stage of all stages. The same goes for both situations of human trafficking and domestic violent relationship, once they’ve escaped then their perpetrator has lost all control of them and will do anything to get them back. It’s important for law-enforcement officials to not come forward to victims of human trafficking or domestic violence as close-minded. As if they chose this life to begin with. 

The same goes for residents of the community, to not have family, friends, neighbors, business owners, and politicians believe the life they are victims are in is the life they created for themselves. A solution anyone in the community can do is find the proper healthcare in the area. Healthcare centers are consumer-driven and patient center organizations that serve as comprehensive or cost-effective primary health care. They serve everyone regardless of the ability to pay. The next step can be to have victims and supporters help locate the proper legal resources for victims. Finding the right legal outcome for these victims can help them have a sense of control and power that their trafficker or perpetrator took away from them. 

As for local emergency providers, developing a safety plan is a crucial component during patient visits and can occur while the victim is experiencing trafficking, during the process of leaving the trafficking situation, and when the victim has left. This is usually done either by a case manager or a mental health provider, definitely can emergency providers contact and connect victims to mental health providers to create a safety plan for them. Also, it is important for the provider’s knowledge that the affected patient is in the best position to assess their safety level. Within the safety plan, it could include the assets of current risk, preparation or strategies to avoid sets of harm, and an outline of options for responding when safety is threatened or compromised. I think it’s highly important for victims of either domestic violence or human trafficking to have a safety plan for themselves since they have been violated of it for so long. Taking the first steps to having a better life is better than allowing the harm to them to continue. 

As a society, there are many resources and support we can do to draw the attention of these victims. They are not in a life of their choice but one against their will. They require people who will listen to them. It is they who need to find the trust in you before they share their story in hopes they will get the help they deserve.  


Busch, N. B., Fong, R., & Williamson, J. (2004). Human trafficking and domestic violence: Comparisons in research methodology, needs and strategies. Journal of Social Work Research and Evaluation, 5(2), 137-147.

Coverdale, J. H., Gordon, M. R., & Nguyen, P. T. (Eds.). (2020). Human trafficking: a treatment guide for mental health professionals (First). American Psychiatric Association Publishing. Retrieved May 9, 2022, from INSERT-MISSING-URL.

Roe-Sepowitz, D. E., Hickle, K. E., Dahlstedt, J., & Gallagher, J. (2014). Victim or whore: the similarities and differences between victim’s experiences of domestic violence and sex trafficking. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 24(8), 883–898.

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