Sexual Assault and Prevention Awareness of Human Trafficking

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Source:  Joyce Williams, DNP, General Section Fellow

Human trafficking has received more visibility worldwide and is the fastest form of commerce nationally. Because it is such a lucrative business, preventative attempts are seen in many states. The Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report provides profit statistics for forced labor/labor trafficking and sex trafficking annually. In 2014, the State Department noted that human trafficking is the second-highest grossing criminal enterprise (2014 TIP Report), generating a profit of $32 billion every year.1

In 2007, Maryland established a task force to “serve as the lead investigative, prosecutorial, and victim services coordinating body for anti-human trafficking activity.”2 As the first forensic nurse to serve on the Victim’s Services Subcommittee, I am committed to improving the medical services for victims of trafficking. Two years ago, an attorney, social workers, an advocate, and I created a pilot training program for medical professionals. Since that time, we have piloted the training in several hospitals in Maryland. As a forensic nurse, I reach out to service organizations, schools of nursing, and interested community groups to educate them about the importance of the identification of victims and how to provide trauma-informed care.

Since the first training in 2015, forensic nurses have developed specific screening tools and interventions, along with comprehensive resources to guide the path for rescued persons. Currently, I am involved in a research project that will offer additional evidence in the identification of victims seeking medical care at health care locations.

1. U.S. State Department. (2014) TIP Report.

2. Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force. (n.d.).