Often when we talk about human trafficking, the immediate thought is an elaborate kidnapping that has been specially crafted for months. The reality is, some traffickers can recruit someone in as little as 5 minutes, and that person will spend the rest of their life with the negative impacts of trafficking – and that’s if they are able to get out of the situation at all.
How Vulnerabilities are Exploited
In as little as 5 minutes, traffickers can spot vulnerabilities in their targets. They exploit these vulnerabilities for leverage to get them into the trade. Common vulnerabilities can include unstable living conditions, a history of domestic abuse, a caregiver or family member with a history of substance abuse, homelessness, a lack of documentation, poverty/economic needs, a history of sexual abuse, or drug or alcohol addiction (Polaris Project).
While all these vulnerabilities are highly impacting, one of the biggest emotions that is exploited is simply the need to belong. Many victims are brought into trafficking with the promises of wealth, love, or companionship. Once the vulnerability is identified, the trafficker will begin the grooming process. The trafficker will develop a relationship, build trust, and maybe even meet some of those needs for a small amount of time. This relationship might already exist, despite the depiction in movies, most women who are trafficked are forced into the trade by someone they know, often a family member or spouse. Leaving these situations is more complicated than simply escaping – many times they have built lives with or have formed deep and complex relationships with their traffickers. When the needs are not being met a victim of trafficking will stay for a number of reasons, one being fear of their trafficker or fear of law enforcement (Blue Campaign). There may also be other factors keeping them in contact with these people, including financial dependency or even manipulation. Traffickers use different tactics to convince victims they either aren’t being trafficked or they made the choice to be in the trade. In fact, many survivors don’t identify as being part of human trafficking at all.
What Happens Next?
Leaving the trade is incredibly difficult, and there are many hurdles a survivor has to overcome to rebuild their life.
That’s why Rethreaded exists. We help break the cycle for survivors of human trafficking who are unable to find employment because of past addictions, lengthy criminal records, lack of transportation, unstable housing, and so on. Mental health is another barrier for survivors that many workplaces don’t take into consideration. The survivors working at Rethreaded have experienced complex trauma that warrants specialized care. We work with survivors to ensure they have all the pieces they need for success so they can rebuild their lives and discover the person they were intended to be.
How do I Help?
If you see something, say something. If you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1 (888) 373-7888 or text “HELP” or “INFO” to 233733. We recommend taking these numbers and saving them in your phone in the event you need to contact the hotline without access to the internet.
We understand how easy it is to feel like the problem is too big for one person to make an impact, so we put together a list of 7 things you can do to help us in our mission to harness the power of business to create choice for 500 survivors of human trafficking by 2033.
- Shop our website for products handmade by survivors of human trafficking.
- Become a Donor by making a one-time donation or signing up for monthly recurring donations.
- Get Educated on human trafficking or become an advocate so you can use your influence to create change in the world.
- Volunteer for an upcoming work day to get hands-on with our mission and experience what Rethreaded is all about.
- Purchase Corporate Gifts for your employees or clients and show your company not only values those important relationships but also the community.
- Join a Giving Circle to become a beacon for change in the community and help uplift our mission.
- Host or Sponsor an Event at your home or at the Rethreaded Delores Barr Weaver Campus of Hope to bring more people to our mission. If you would like to host or sponsor an event, email firstname.lastname@example.org