There is a misunderstanding surrounding human trafficking in that it only exists in third-world countries or impoverished communities; however, it is far more prevalent than most might think. Human trafficking is the number one crime in Orange County but often goes unnoticed due to the lack of media attention it receives. It encapsulates both labor and sexual exploitation, the movement of individuals as a commodity. Many survivors find themselves in an instance of human trafficking typically by fraud, coercion, and in many cases force.
Human trafficking entails many different forms of exploitation; whether it be forced labor, trafficking individuals for sexual exploitation, debt bondage, and many other schemes. Forced Labor has been found in countless industries, including fabric and textile, agriculture, mining, and in manufacturing of numerous goods. Some survivors have been coerced with false pretenses of more money or a better life. Sex Trafficking takes many forms as well with many victims being exploited and trafficked both locally and internationally. Survivors are exploited and controlled by organized crime and a significant margin by their own families. Many survivors are typically not given basic human rights and are forced to work long hours due to threats of either detention, violence, or in many cases death.
The issue of human trafficking is becoming more and more prevalent, which is why it is increasingly important for agencies like WTLC to raise awareness and provide support.
WTLC offers programming and services for survivors of domestic violence and/or human trafficking. Our goal is to empower these individuals in their journeys and provide them with the support they need to succeed in life. Oftentimes, human trafficking is seen as taboo and survivors are stigmatized; which makes it increasingly difficult for them to seek help or refuge. At WTLC, we offer an array of services to assist these individuals in breaking down those barriers and reclaiming their lives. We offer emergency shelter stays and longer-transitional living facilities for individuals seeking safety and protection.
In addition, we have a support group for youth called RISE that creates a safe space for survivors to come together and speak about their experiences. This group is also open to youth who do not identify as survivors of HT and serves as a form of empowerment for these individuals as well. Last, but certainly not least, we are in the midst of implementing a 40-hr Human Trafficking Advocacy Training for professionals looking to provide services for HT survivors. Our goal as an agency is to increase visibility on this prevailing issue and help disrupt the cycle of violence and exploitation.
For more information please reach out to our Helpline (877) 531-5522.