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Justice for Victims. Justice for All.
Office for Victims of Crime
2013 OVC Report to the Nation: Fiscal Years 2011-2012 'Transforming Today's Vision into Tomorrow's Reality'
Report to the Nation Home  |  Message From the Director  |  Exhibits

Human Trafficking

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Human trafficking, recognized as modern-day slavery, dehumanizes and traumatizes victims and shocks communities when it is discovered. Yet it is a fact of life for an estimated 20 million people around the world at any given time.12 OVC has played a critical role in supporting victims of this heinous crime since the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, which authorized funding for OVC to support the victim services field in developing and enhancing trauma-informed, culturally appropriate services for trafficking victims. Most projects and activities are supported through grant programs, frequently in coordination with the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).

  • The Services for Victims of Human Trafficking Program awards funding for victim-serving organizations to provide either comprehensive services, including shelter, advocacy, and health care, or specialized legal or mental health services. From the inception of OVC's trafficking victim services programs in January 2003, through June 2012, OVC grantees provided services to more than 4,700 individuals who were identified as victims or potential victims of trafficking.
  • Since 2003, OVC has partnered with BJA to support the joint efforts of law enforcement agencies and victim service providers to identify, rescue, and assist trafficking victims. Three years ago, OVC and BJA developed the Enhanced Collaborative Model To Combat Human Trafficking, which requires law enforcement and victim organizations in the same region to demonstrate a coordinated, victim-centered community response to trafficking cases. In FYs 2011 and 2012, partnerships were formed between 13 OVC-supported organizations and 13 BJA-funded agencies to better serve trafficking victims.

Altogether, during FYs 2011 and 2012, OVC intensified its efforts on behalf of trafficking victims, announcing new initiatives, expanding existing programs, and awarding more than $12 million to grantees to serve this vulnerable population. Furthermore, as human trafficking begins to emerge from the shadows, the Nation is redoubling its efforts to combat the crime and meet the many needs of its victims. In September 2012, the Obama Administration announced new initiatives to expand services and legal assistance for victims, including the Partnership for Freedom public-private initiative, which will award $6 million to encourage local communities to find innovative ways to help trafficking victims. The initiative is being led by Humanity United and DOJ, with OVC and other agencies working with Humanity United to forge an effective partnership.


Legal Services a High Priority for Serving Trafficking Victims

In addition to basic necessities such as food and shelter, OVC emphasizes the importance of ensuring victims' access to justice through comprehensive, no-cost legal assistance. OVC's Services for Victims of Human Trafficking Program supports legal assistance related to immigration issues as part of its comprehensive services model, as well as legal services through its specialized model. In FYs 2011 and 2012, under the specialized model, OVC funded four legal providers based in New York, Texas, Colorado, and California to serve trafficking victims in geographic areas encompassing 12 states.

OVC announced new initiatives in 2012 intended to help ensure that legal assistance becomes more widely available to crime victims. Through the Legal Assistance Capacity Building Initiative, OVC TTAC, with the National Crime Victim Law Institute as primary consultant, will collaborate with legally and professionally affiliated organizations to build the capacity of attorneys who are willing to provide pro bono legal assistance to victims. Legal assistance to victims of all forms of trafficking will be a key component of assistance. Under the Wraparound Victim Legal Assistance Network Demonstration Project, OVC is supporting six jurisdictions as they establish comprehensive legal assistance networks to provide essential legal assistance for crime victims, including victims of trafficking.

Support for Trafficked Domestic Minors Changes Lives

In 2009, OVC funded organizations in New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco under the Domestic Minor Victims of Human Trafficking Demonstration Project to implement a comprehensive strategy for serving trafficking victims under age 18 who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. The 3-year project is intended to identify promising practices for providing wraparound services to young victims of forced labor or sex trafficking, including commercial sexual exploitation. The strategy centers on providing intensive case management for every victim in the program, with the goal of integrating each one into a stable living environment. In Chicago, for example, the Salvation Army's STOP–IT Initiative successfully builds relationships with victims of sex trafficking, helps them plan safe exits, and coordinates medical services, job training, and housing services to help them begin new lives.

Of Special Interest

  • OVC launched the OVC/BJA Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy Task Force and Operations e-Guide in 2011 as a comprehensive resource on task force development, revitalization, practical tips, and lessons learned. It incorporates links to many tools, trainings, and other valuable resources for victim service providers, law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors. The guide receives more than 500 visits each month and will be continually revised to incorporate the latest information and promising practices.
  • OVC supports an array of capacity-building projects to strengthen the skills of practitioners and improve the accessibility of services, including training and technical assistance. In FYs 2011 and 2012, for instance, OVC TTAC supported practitioners who serve trafficking victims through customized trainings and consultations covering specific types of trafficking and local methods of working cases. OVC and BJA cohosted Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force Regional Training Forums in three geographically diverse areas in 2011, tailoring each event to meet local needs.
  • Through the Services for Victims of Human Trafficking Program, OVC supports Safe Horizon in New York in its broad-based efforts to serve victims of trafficking. The results not only demonstrate the effectiveness of victim-centered services, but also the resilience of the human heart. Recently, a client completed intensive therapy, found employment, and is completing her GED, with plans to apply to a top university. This survivor attributes her strength and self-esteem to the staff and services of Safe Horizon's Anti-Trafficking Program, and says, "I am finally free . . . to start building my dreams."

12 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2012. Vienna, Austria, 2012.