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What is Human Trafficking?

Human Trafficking is widespread and occurs in the United States, California, and here in Monterey County. As it is one of the largest criminal industries in the world and the fastest-growing, we focus on victims. Traffickers do not discriminate; they target the young and the old, men and women, and people from all social-economic backgrounds. Homeless and foster care youth are among those at the highest risk of being trafficked. Young girls are the most common victims.  We see human trafficking victims every day as they are found in places familiar like city streets, strip clubs, massage businesses, hotels, and motels. We also see trafficking in places we never expect like factories, construction, truck stops, domestic work, farming and landscape, and janitorial services.

In January 2023, California Attorney General Rob Bonta informed Californians of the support services offered in the state and released new directions to assist trafficking survivors in obtaining exoneration for offenses that occurred because of their trafficking.  Follow the link to read the full statement.

Human Trafficking

Types of Human Trafficking are:

Labor Trafficking

Recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of the person for labor or services through the use of force fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage debt bondage or slavery.

Sex Trafficking

Sex Trafficking is the force, fraud or coercion to cause a commercial sex act. The coercion can be subtle, overt and/or psychological. Sex trafficking, as well as all Human Trafficking is a part of modern day slavery.

Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) is a range of crimes and activities involving the sexual abuse or exploitation of a child for the financial benefit of any person or in exchange for anything of value.

human trafficking victims

ywca-mcSince 2017, the YWCA of Monterey County has been serving victims of Human trafficking through a trauma informed approach, focusing on safety, trustworthiness and transparency, peer support collaboration and mutuality, empowerment voice and choice, and cultural historical and gender issues.

YWCA-MC works to ensure the needs of our clients are met.  Immediate needs are assessed and services vary but can include: emergency shelter, legal advocacy access to medical services, assistance with reconnecting clients with their family and connections to mental health treatment plans. YWCA-MC is working to stop Human Trafficking in Monterey.

We Help Human Trafficking Victims Take Control of their Lives

Housing Referrals
Participants are assessed for referrals to
local and out of county safe house program

Case Management
Participants are monitored by specialized
case management personnel
Transitional housing case management is
provided upon qualification

Supportive Counseling/Therapy
Participants have access to on-site and
off-site counseling referrals. Alternative therapeutic settings including equine therapy, art therapy and yoga

Addiction Treatment/Services
AOD counseling
Celebrate Recovery sessions Workshops
Weekly courses and activities are provided for self-healing, growth, and life enrichment

Emergency Fund Assistance
Legal Fees
Medical Needs
Relocation Assistance
Court Preparation

Education/Job Training
All participants are assisted with educational
and/or job placement

Volunteer opportunities and community involvement

Know the Red Flags of a Human Trafficking Victim

LIVING HEALTH: Evidence of being controlled. Not free to leave or come and go as she/he wishes. Responds with rehearsed answers. Lacks control of own money or identification

MENTAL HEALTH: Avoids eye contact. Defensive or argumentative.  Mistrust of individuals displaying compassion. Bonded with her/his abuser, in spite of experiencing physical or sexual violence.

PHYSICAL HEALTH:Tattoos or scarring of trafficker’s name and/or symbols on the victim’s body.  Visible signs of sexual violence, physical restraint, confinement or torture.  Malnourished, exhausted, sleep deprived and poor hygiene.

If you see the red flags, ask these questions:

What kind of work do you do?
Do you live with your employer?
Do you get paid?
Can you leave your job if you need to?
Have you or your family been hurt or threatened if you tried to leave?
Where do you sleep and eat?
Are you in debt to your employer?
Do you have your ID and/or Passport? If not, who has them?

Trafficking Myths VS. Reality

MYTH: Human Trafficking involves movement from one country to another.
REALITY: Human Trafficking need not involve movement, it happens domestically.

MYTH: Human Trafficking involves young women.
REALITY: 80% of trafficking victims are female and 50% are children, but men and women of all ages are trafficked.

MYTH: Traffickers are members of criminal organizations.
REALITY: Traffickers may be part of large criminal organizations, gangs, or drug cartels; human trafficking is the second leading criminal enterprise, second only to the drug trade. Other traffickers are small business owners and individuals. Some trafficking is done by family members of the victims.

MYTH: Trafficking survivors are not U.S. Citizens.
REALITY: 80% of human trafficking survivors in the United States are U.S. Citizens. Most human trafficking in the U.S. occurs in New York, California, and Florida.

MYTH: Human Trafficking is not taking place in my neighborhood.
REALITY: It can and often does. It is hidden in plain sight in our neighborhoods.