How it Happens

Kayti was just 11 years old when her dad sold her for sex for the first time in a US town. After years of abuse, she shares what she lived through and how she finally escaped. Watch the video below.


Checklist for a Trauma-informed Approach to Interactions With Survivors of Human Trafficking*

Be aware if the individual appears shut down or disconnected; this may be a sign that the person is overwhelmed.

  • Have materials available that may support regulation of affect and impulses during meetings, conversation, or testimony.

  • Check in to make sure the survivor is hearing and understanding your statements or questions and provide frequent breaks.

  • Be aware that changes in memory do not necessarily indicate falsehood or storytelling, but may be indicative of a trauma response.

  • Try to hold interviews or other key conversations at a time when the survivor feels most stable and safe.

  • Help break down tasks concretely; assume that even small tasks may feel overwhelming. Support the survivor in accessing help with task completion.

  • Focus on the facts of experiences, rather than getting caught up in the individual’s emotional response or perception of events in making determinations about criminality.

  • Be aware of the often confusing nature of the individual’s relationships with the perpetrators; be conscious of not making assumptions.

  • Don’t take strong reactions personally; be very aware of managing your own emotional responses.

  • Provide opportunities for control and empowerment whenever possible.

  • Be aware of the importance of physical as well as emotional supports.


*Adapted from Justice Resource Institute, Utilizing Trauma-Informed Approaches to Trafficking-related Work.