January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month

January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month – an important time to reflect on the resilience of trafficking survivors and recognize the efforts of those who work tirelessly to prevent and eliminate this inhumane and devastating form of abuse and exploitation.

Human trafficking involves exploiting a person for labor, services, or commercial sex. In a 2017 report, the International Labour Organization found that on any given day in 2016, an estimated 25 million people are subjected to human trafficking and forced labor. Considered one of the fastest growing illegal industries in the world, human trafficking generates an estimated $150 billion annually in illicit profits (DOI).

More than 20 years ago, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) put into law the United States’ commitment to combating human trafficking domestically and internationally. In 2010, President Obama declared January “National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month” to bring attention to the problem. Presidential proclamations not only raise the profile of the issue, but are also snapshots of global trends and challenges, and significant U.S. anti-trafficking policy achievements. Some highlights include (State.gov):

This year during National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the Department’s Office of Law Enforcement and Security’s Victim Assistance Program is bringing attention to the heightened vulnerability of persons with disabilities to trafficking victimization. These individuals are often overlooked as potential victims and may not know how to seek help.

According to the U.S. Department of Interior, in spite of the fact that statistics about human trafficking crimes against individuals with disabilities are limited, the National Human Trafficking Hotline was able to document 2,116 potential victims who had a pre-existing health concern or disability immediately prior to their trafficking situation (including a possible physical disability, mental health diagnosis, substance use concern, or intellectual/developmental disability) between January 2015 to December 2017. Also, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics emphasized the vulnerability of persons with disabilities in a report examining victimization in non-fatal crimes (including rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault). Specifically, the report found that from 2017 to 2019, the rate of violent victimization in these crimes against persons with disabilities was more than 4 times the rate for persons without disabilities.”

According to DOJ’s Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center, several factors may contribute to an increased risk of being trafficked for persons with disabilities, including:

  • Caregivers who take care of the basic needs of individuals with disabilities can take advantage of this dependency and force them into trafficking.
  • Some individuals with disabilities may have difficulties with communication and/or speech, making it difficult for them to seek help.
  • People with disabilities may be sheltered and isolated and therefore crave connections and relationships, resulting in their being persuaded to engage in commercial sex or forced labor in exchange for money or friendship.
  • People with disabilities may be desensitized to physical touch due to isolation or an abundance of medical procedures related to their disability. They may be unaware of their right to object to unwanted touching and unaware of their rights as crime victims.

To report your concerns about a potential trafficking situation or get help for a person who may be a victim, contact the following helplines:

National Human Trafficking Hotline – this confidential hotline connects victims with support and services, provides information, and receives tips about potential trafficking situations.


If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, please dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunications relay services.

Text: 233733


 StrongHearts Native Helpline – an anonymous and confidential domestic violence, dating violence and sexual violence helpline for Native Americans and Alaska Natives that is available 24/7, 365 days a year, offering culturally appropriate support and advocacy.

1-844-7NATIVE (1-844-762-8483)




www.state.gov/national-human-trafficking-prevention month/

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