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Human Trafficking Awareness Month

My name is Sarah J. and I am a member of Cape Cod PATH: People Against Trafficking Humans.

January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

So – what exactly is human trafficking? The Department of Homeland Security defines human trafficking as “a form of modern-day slavery, and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit human beings for some type of labor or commercial sex purpose.”

PATH is a local grass-roots taskforce whose mission is to end human trafficking on Cape Cod through education, outreach, and collaboration. We provide trainings to local organizations who are interested in learning more about our taskforce and the realities of Human Trafficking being a global and local issue that does affect our very own community. Unfortunately, there aren’t great statistics for Cape Cod trafficking cases, but it is happening here. The reason why statistics are low is that many survivors do not report for a multitude of reasons and some cases are charged as domestic violence and sexual assault and not as a trafficking case. This is true for even national and international cases.

PATH works with the community and organizations to provide outreach – to start conversations about this devastating reality and helping survivors. With donations from the public, we can provide resource bags to folks who identify as trafficking survivors.

 Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking. Traffickers will notice the vulnerabilities of those around them and know how to use that to their advantage. Traffickers may prey on immigrants and withhold their passports or other forms of identification making it near impossible for a victim to leave. At risk youth: runaways, those in the system (foster care, DCF custody, and juvenile justice system), LGBTQ+ individuals, and people with disabilities are also vulnerable populations that traffickers target.

People can be trafficked for forced labor, some examples may be childcare/nannies and other forms of domestic servitude, for little to no pay, limited days off, and working long hours. Another form of human trafficking is sexual exploitation. This is a more commonly talked about topic, especially with it making headlines and involving the Patriots owner, Robert Kraft. The Jeffrey Epstein case has also brought attention to trafficking survivors and the trauma that they have suffered at the ends of many powerful men.
Here are some signs that someone may need help:

  • there is a controlling person speaking for or on behalf of the individual;
  • there are marks, bruises, or other indications of physical abuse;
  • the person may be appearing fearful or submissive;
  • is isolating from friends, family, or other things they used to do;
  • there are new tattoos or other signs of gang affiliation;
  • there is a lack of control over personal schedule and doesn’t have access to money or forms of identification.

To report these suspicions, always report to your local police department first.
Here are some other numbers to call:
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement- Homeland Security Investigations Hotline: 1-866-347-2423
National Human Trafficking Resource Center: 1-888-3737-888 or text “INFO” or “HELP” or “BEFREE” to 233733