January marks National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, an important time to honor victims, become educated, and learn how to spot indicators of potential trafficking situations.
“Human Trafficking, “trafficking in persons,” and “modern slavery” are umbrella terms used to refer to both sex and labor trafficking. Additionally, the elements of the crime can involve involuntary servitude, slavery, or practices like slavery, debt bondage, or forced labor. It is important to note that human trafficking can include but does not require movement. People may be victims regardless of whether they were born into a state of servitude, exploited in their hometown, transported to the exploitative situation, previously consented to work for a trafficker, or participated in a crime as a direct result of being trafficked.
The International Institute of Buffalo’s Survivor Support Department provides a myriad of services to help survivors. In addition to core case management services, these include a specialized medical advocate collaborating with individuals to access healthcare, as most are prevented from having access during their exploitation. Specialized programming identifies minor victims of labor trafficking, and our transitional housing program locates and maintains safe housing for survivors.
In 2021, the Western District of New York’s Anti-Trafficking Task Force, co-facilitated by the Institute, secured a $1.5 million grant to continue assisting victims of trafficking. The goals of the project include improving a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, and proactive approach to combatting human trafficking within the community with a focus on trauma-informed services for survivors and client-centered investigations and prosecutions.
If you are a survivor of human trafficking and need assistance, help is available by calling IIB at (716) 222-3890, or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 at any time.