Have you ever wondered how trafficking survivors can move on and live a healthy, productive life after they’ve been rescued from exploitation?
Last year, we shared what happens to trafficking survivors after they’ve been rescued. In an exclusive interview from the post, we spoke with a city’s director of all its trafficking victim shelters.
“Sharla,” as we called her, shared with us that finding a good job can be difficult for survivors because of multiple issues that affect them—issues like previous convictions and trauma.
Because of this, many businesses have started to focus on advocating for and increasing employee awareness of trafficking survivors. Advocates say one of the most helpful things businesses can do is hire trafficking survivors.
Why it is important for businesses to hire trafficking survivors
The reality is, businesses that hire trafficking survivors provide them with a long term solution to their post-trafficked lives in ways that they truly need.
A common critique of some anti-trafficking nonprofits is that they only truly provide short term assistance, and don’t allow survivors to have upward mobility that gives them access to an increase in living standards. In effect, this means that the nonprofits perpetuate the problem they are attempting to fix, instead of providing long term solutions.
Of course, anti-trafficking nonprofits and survivors’ shelter programs have different purposes for those who have escaped exploitation. And of course, it’s been reported that survivors can grow and thrive in the long term after working with people like Sharla.
But clearly, a 9 to 12-month stay at a survivor shelter is a short term solution. The shelter stay is important and necessary because it will help a trafficking survivor get back on their feet, but the story doesn’t end there.
Survivors can’t live shelters for the rest of their life, so this is where businesses taking initiative comes into play.
Why is it helpful when businesses make the decision to hire trafficking survivors?
1. For financial freedom
One of the more obvious but basic reasons a business hiring a trafficking survivor is helpful is for the survivor’s financial security.
A business that hires a trafficking survivor gives them an opportunity to take back control of their life—access to money that’ll pay for food, shelter, education that could permit greater workplace opportunities, and more. Everyone needs to pay the bills, including survivors of trafficking.
2. To keep the survivor from returning to their trafficker
There’s more than just money to be gained from survivors getting good, solid jobs with reputable businesses—they can also gain their freedom in new ways.
“Annie,” the head of an Illinois-based anti-trafficking nonprofit, recently explained to us how employing survivors does more than allowing them to pay the bills and buy what they need, it helps them discover who they are as individuals apart from abuse and avoid going back to their exploiters.
“A piece of the equation that many people don’t understand is that trafficking survivors sometimes go back to their trafficker if they are unable to provide for themselves. While they may have been treated awfully and forced to do unspeakable things against their will, at least their basic needs were being met,” Annie said.
3. For their mental wellness
Annie also spoke about the importance of work being something that leads to a healthier mental state—something every person should be mindful of, especially those who have suffered serious abuses.
“Work gives these men and women a reason to get up in the morning. Receiving a check every two weeks helps reinforce that they are contributing to society… greater self-worth, confidence—all such important things that businesses provide a survivor when they hire.”
Helping survivors, one job at a time
Businesses have the ability to make a difference for trafficking survivors in so many ways, and when they step up to employ those who have been exploited, they’re helping them live a better life.
They not only provide practical resources, but inspire hope and confidence that give trafficking survivors autonomy and freedom that they have never known. Providing employment for survivors can serve to undo some of the “lifetime cost” of being trafficked.
But what if you don’t own a business, and can’t hire a sex trafficking survivor? There’s great news—you can still help to stop the demand for sexual exploitation through refusing to click on porn.
Do your part: refuse to click porn
The porn industry is tied inescapably to sex trafficking. No, not every video and image on every porn site is trafficking-related, but exploitative images and videos are often indistinguishable from consensual content.
Porn is a risk factor that has been connected to heavy involvement in sex trafficking. It normalizes the actions trafficking victims are forced into, it desensitizes victims of sex trafficking to those actions, and it’s used as “advertising” by both pimps and traffickers. Clicking, downloading, or consuming videos and images sends the message that we accept sexual entertainment at the cost of sexual exploitation, and earns advertising dollars that fund increased trafficking and exploitation.
Not clicking isn’t always easy, since porn is everywhere and so many people struggle, but it’s an action that we can all take, and it’s an action that matters.