One of the most dangerous aspects for victims of human trafficking is isolation. Trapped in a world where they are exploited for sex, labor, or other abuses, victims often rightly believe no one will even notice if they disappear.
The need for human lifelines in our communities is what motivated Beth Hassett to get involved in the movement to prevent violence against women, as she explains in this week’s episode of our Patchwork podcast.
Hassett is the CEO of WEAVE, an OVW grantee that supports survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and sex trafficking. She witnessed the devastation of violence against women when one of her sorority sisters was sexually assaulted in college. Her friend dropped out of school and Beth never saw or heard from her again.
Through her work today, Beth reports that for victims of human trafficking, there are many aspects of daily life that need to be addressed for them to feel safe to escape to a place of safety.
Shelter, food and a way to sustain themselves are essential parts of a plan that help them escape the control of the trafficker on what can become a difficult and dangerous journey to a better life.
While “safety” is technically within the reach of a victim of human trafficking by calling for help and taking refuge in a shelter, it is often very difficult and dangerous to achieve – and to maintain.
Escape from human trafficking means breaking the bonds from somebody who controls another person through psychological and emotional means. Long-term success is often measured by how much stability the victim of human trafficking can achieve over time to become a survivor.
Much more help is needed to keep that victim away from the trafficker who is profiting from their exploitation, as Beth explains. The trafficker sees their victim as a source of income and they often can lure the person back because they typically have provided everything the victim needs for basic survival. Helping victims of human trafficking regain control of their lives by getting a job is often a first critical step on their path to becoming a survivor who can support themselves.
Emergency housing is temporary, for instance, and victims are often very frightened when they don't know what comes next in terms of employment, transportation and other keys to independence. While Beth’s team addresses the issue in California, WEAVE is like so many other organizations across the nation that OVW supports to provide a safe place for victims to turn to get resources, build skillsets, and do what it takes to make freedom from human trafficking permanent.
At OVW we are proud to support organizations like WEAVE that provide access to services that help reduce domestic violence and sexual assault in communities. We are committed to raising awareness and understanding about violence against women which includes the intersection of domestic violence and trafficking. As Beth explains the two don’t exist in silos. I hope you tune in and enjoy hearing from Beth in our first episode of Patchwork.