Assistance for Victims of Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is a crime. According to the United States Department of Justice, it is the second largest international criminal industry, second only to the drug trade. Any person, regardless of race, sexuality, gender, ethnicity, or immigration status may be a victim of this crime.
Victims who are trafficked are forced to work against their will, often in prostitution, massage parlors and escort services, erotic dancing establishments, pornography, and sweatshops/factories. Human trafficking has even been found to exist in legitimate industries such as agriculture, construction, domestic work, hotels, restaurants, and many other enterprises. Some are forced, tricked, or coerced into marriage; others into begging and peddling. Human trafficking victims often suffer physical and psychological abuse at the hands of their traffickers, resulting in health problems, mental illness, and addiction. The need for assistance and treatment among victims is great.
Help for Victims of Human Trafficking
If you are a victim of human trafficking, you may be eligible for services in New York State that will assist with shelter, food, medical care, protection and legal assistance. If you are a victim of human trafficking and an immigrant, you may be eligible for services as well as help from the federal government with adjusting your immigration status. If you are a US Citizen, or a child of one, you may be eligible for Public Assistance Benefits and can connect with a Human Trafficking Liaison.
There are providers in New York State that will help victims of human trafficking become secure, independent individuals. View list of New York State Human Trafficking Providers. Outside of New York State, victims are encouraged to call the Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888, which will help with locating resources within your community. You can also text “HELP” to 233733 (BeFree).
If you are experiencing an emergency, please contact your local police department or dial 911.
New York State Response to Human Trafficking
The crime of human trafficking is astounding in its breadth and in the depth of need it creates for victims. Under New York State Law trafficking is an act of forced labor or sexual servitude under specific means, for the benefit of the perpetrator. Any law enforcement agent can make a referral for services if he or she believes a person to be trafficked. In 2015, Governor Cuomo signed a law that will allow established social and legal service providers to also make referrals to the New York State confirmation process.
Through OTDA, New York State funds the Response to Human Trafficking Program (RHTP), which provides case management and referral services to adult foreign-born, New York State confirmed trafficked persons who, by virtue of the lack of an eligible immigration status are therefore not otherwise eligible for any mainstream benefits and/or services. The focus is on those who would otherwise have no access to needed services: those who have not yet been certified by the federal government and those that are beginning to work in coordination with an investigation or prosecution and have been confirmed as a victim by OTDA/BRIA and DCJS. Services may include shelter/rental assistance, health assessment, medical care, mental health counseling, legal services, food assistance and other identified service needs.
If you are interested in training on recognizing the signs of human trafficking, or how the New York State referral process works, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assistance for Law Enforcement
The RHTP service system can assist local law enforcement in their pursuit of prosecutions of traffickers while also providing victims with the support necessary to regain their lives and return home and/or seek lawful immigration status in the U.S.
OTDA works closely with our partner agency Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to train local law enforcement and assist on investigations and prosecutions.
Interagency Task Force
The Interagency Task Force (ITF) on Human Trafficking is co-chaired by the Commissioner of OTDA. The Task Force continues to meet and share best practices on serving vulnerable populations at risk of trafficking. The Task Force released a poster to heighten awareness among the general public, and we continue to support the efforts of all state agencies involved in the task force to eliminate the scourge of human trafficking in our state. View Human Trafficking Poster.
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