We Are All the First Line of Defense: Recognizing Human Trafficking

By: Jocelyne Terilli

Human trafficking is everywhere, in many forms, every day.  This dangerous criminal activity is often in plain sight, yet lurks in the shadows and on the fringes and goes undetected if you don’t know the signs.  We’re committed to helping raise awareness of the signs of human trafficking.  Knowledge is power and we are all on the first line of defense to help victims of human trafficking.

Common myths surround human trafficking:

  1. Sex trafficking is the only form of human trafficking
  2. Human trafficking only occurs when people are smuggled in from other countries
  3. Victims of human trafficking will always immediately seek out help.

The truth is sobering and usually much worse.

  • Victims are often recruited by people they know, sometimes in their own families and because of systematic abuse by their captor, are unlikely to seek out help.
  • Trafficking occurs primarily in the sex industry but also in restaurants, hotels, farms, and manufacturing plants as labor trafficking. According to Polaris, a global leader in fighting modern slavery, labor trafficking reports increased by 47% in the U.S. in 2016.
    • Polaris estimates there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking worldwide
  • The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children believes that 1 in 5 missing children are actually child sex trafficking victims.

We all must be vigilant and know the signs to look for.



Victims are often under multiple forms of abuse and are traumatized by their oppressor, which can limit their ability to ask for outside help. It is up to everyone to look for and recognize signs, question situations, and take action to call the appropriate authorities.

How Sirchie Helps Law Enforcement to Address Human Trafficking:

We are committed #publicsafetypartners and #policepartners.  With our extensive history in supporting evidence collection with training, products, and vehicle solutions, we continue to work with states and other jurisdictions to create evidence collection kits for sexual assault and other criminal activities that include human trafficking.

Our available resources include:

Training for Law Enforcement, District Attorneys, and Health Care Professionals including:

  • Our free webinar: “Sexual Assault Investigation Best Practices: the PST Method.”Learn how law enforcement and SANE nurses are vital in the process of preserving and collecting evidence in sexual assault cases.  Please contact us for access to this recording.
  • A new training class held August 8-10 “Sexual Assault, Abuse Documentation and Photography” to give law enforcement, SANE nurses, and district attorneys a common platform of skills and understanding built through hands-on exercises.
  • Our blog post for helping victims or assault: How to View Aged/Faded Bruises and Contusions

Solutions for Examining Victims of Assault including:

  • New and updated sexual assault evidence collection kits:
    • Pediatric Sexual Assault Kit: For SANE-P forensic nurses, this kit was developed with SANE nurses and based on the new Alaska State Pediatric Kit. Sex crimes against children require special attention and this kit helps SANE-P nurses perform their mission in these difficult situations.
    • Suspect Sexual Assault Kit:Proper evidence collection from a possible suspect in sexual assault examinations can be key to establishing culpability or innocence by linking the perpetrator and victim physiologically in the case. All necessary components for a complete and thorough processing of the suspect are included.
    • Sexual Assault Victim Evidence Collection KitDeveloped with input from practicing SANE-A forensic nurses, this Victim Evidence Collection kit incorporates best practices and contains all the necessary forms and medical tools to conduct a thorough yet compassionate sexual assault examination.
    • Sirchie Custom Kits: Modern kits built to your department or jurisdiction’s needs.
  • Alternate Light Source kits: Using their natural fluorescent properties, physiological fluids can be found using UV light
  • Our new Forensic Swab Dryer to quick dry evidence swabs and more importantly, help preserve the integrity of the investigation.

Combating human trafficking takes the efforts of everyone: law enforcement, health care professionals, social workers, and everyday citizens.  A team effort where everyone is aware of the problem, looking for the signs of victims, and alerting law enforcement can only help to give the victims a chance to break away and succeed in life.

More resources to help combat human trafficking:

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