Training as A Pathway to Accessing Services
Our March round of community trainings are complete! This month, STOP-IT trained 106 people in the communities of Joliet, Des Plaines, Dekalb and Aurora on how to respond to human trafficking.
Today marked our last March community training in collaboration with Educational Advocacy and Consulting in Aurora, where we trained over 55 people from a variety of backgrounds. Our community trainings comprehensively lay the foundation for communities who are new to the issue by discussing real life situations of trafficking pertinent to their local context, by exploring ways to collaborate with a multidisciplinary team, and by outlining processes to help folks critically determine how to create task forces like ours in their own community.
Why train so many people of so many backgrounds and disciplines?
Unfortunately, human trafficking is frequently misrepresented or sensationalized in the media. Communities often perceive human trafficking as taking place in far-away lands and perpetrated by complete strangers who kidnap young girls through brute force to compel them to engage in commercial sex. Often, this messaging is reinforced by imagery of chains, ropes, and locked doors. While this scenario may take place on rare occasions, it is not common. Furthermore, it causes very real instances of trafficking to be overlooked by people looking for the more dramatic examples, because it paints only one narrow picture. In reality, this nuanced crime more often involves invisible chains, such as threats of harm, deception and psychological coercion to compel individuals into many types of forced labor or commercial sex. Responsible public awareness, messaging and training are crucial to further the general public knowledge about both sex and labor trafficking, to address stereotypes, to debunk common myths and misperceptions, and to resist re-exploitation of survivor experiences.
STOP-IT places value on awareness like this so that folks who may encounter survivors are better able to recognize them. As our eyes are opened to the wide variety of labor and sex trafficking scenarios that take place in all our communities, we become more likely to identify a situation of exploitation. In turn, this leads to the crime being reported, which ultimately leads to more survivors receiving the support that they need and want. Our program has been able to assist various individuals because they were identified as a survivor of trafficking due to information received after trainings and awareness events.
So what do our trainings cover? We discuss the legal definition of trafficking, the ways that people enter a trafficking situation, the tactics that traffickers use to maintain power and control over a survivor, and the red flags that generally present in a trafficking situation. Attendees are then given tools for how to respond (and what not to do), how to be trauma-informed, how to safety plan, and how to connect to the appropriate resources.
Once folks are able to recognize red flags and indicators, we turn toward how folks may be able to better collaborate to combat trafficking. A wide variety of stakeholders, including community centers, churches, hospitals, clinics, schools, nonprofit organizations serving people experiencing homelessness, youth, people experiencing domestic violence and sexual assault, immigrant populations, and workers’ rights centers can be better trained to be able to recognize human trafficking within their own settings and to recognize the value of working together.
Thus far, we have seen participation from social service providers, educators, law enforcement, as well as concerned community members. Across the board, people have stated that they are troubled knowing that human trafficking exists in their communities and that they would like to find practical ways to take action.
Our March round of community trainings may be complete, but we are far from done just yet!
We are looking forward to training more communities in the near future, including at our April training in Lake County! Register here: https://htcommunitytraininglakecounty.eventbrite.com
Want to bring a training to your community? Reach out to us as email@example.com!