I’m aware of trafficking, now what?

January is considered “Trafficking Awareness Month” or so the many e-mails and invites to special events are telling me. As a social worker and previously as a domestic violence/sexual assault advocate I have been inundated with trafficking discussions, forums, conferences, and trainings. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great. However I feel as though now I am fully “aware” of trafficking and that the social-work community as a whole is very “aware” of trafficking in the Duluth area. My question is what do I now do with this awareness to help survivors of the industry and to prevent such things from happening to new victims? What is currently being done by local sexual assault groups such as PAVSA to combat trafficking and how can a social worker, or anyone for that matter, jump in and help?

Please don’t infer that I am in any way downing the efforts to inform people about trafficking — the more who know the better. But I do feel like there is a lack of discussion about action steps, and as a person whose clients and own family members have been affected by this issue I’d like to know less how to make people aware and more about how to do something about it.


Mary Ness

about 9 years ago

The U.S. Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section reports 12 is the average age of entry into pornography and prostitution in the U.S.

St. Louis County is currently looking for foster homes for kids who have been trafficked. Call 726-2236 if you are interested in hearing more about becoming a foster parent.


about 9 years ago

I'm probably not the best one to answer, but the way I try to help is by speaking out when I can against pornography and rape culture and by advocating for something like the Nordic Model.


about 9 years ago

Here is an event that you may be interested in attending and a link to the Facebook page.

Sex Trafficking- Men Working to Repair the Harm

January 11 at 6:00pm at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Duluth 825 West College Street, Duluth, MN 55811


about 9 years ago

Thank you for expressing your interest in this matter. It is fantastic to hear that you're not only aware of the issue, but motivated to assist in the action steps being taken to eradicate this particular type of sexual violence. As an employee and advocate at PAVSA, I agree that those of us in the field are frequently reminded of this issue and the fact that there are quite a lot of events aimed at identifying and discussing sex trafficking, and at times  it can feel as though we're at a standstill. However, I can confirm that much of the action being taken to halt and prevent this issue is behind the scenes. 

PAVSA staff and advocates work to provide essential services and resources to victims of trafficking, educate the community about the topic, and partner with other agencies in order to ensure a comprehensive community response when serving victims of this crime. In addition to direct service and work within the community, we lobby for legislation that supports victims of trafficking rather than punishing them. 

While we have some funding to provide programming and leadership on this issue, the fact that it is a difficult crime to track or document makes it more difficult to receive funding. Unfortunately, many important issues need wide recognition and attention paid to them in order to gain enough momentum to make significant changes, and that is a main reason for creating so much awareness. While those of us working directly in this field may be quite involved and knowledgeable on the subject, the general public may not be as aware. 

While our highest priority is obviously assisting victims already being trafficked, and working to prevent others from the same, widespread awareness and education on the subject is necessary for our community to be able to gain the financial backing needed for housing, resources, and services needed by survivors of sex trafficking. On another level, awareness events can present an opportunity to reach victims of trafficking, linking them to services and information they may need.  

One of the most effective things you can do is talk about the issue, and hopefully this will contribute to a ripple effect of awareness in our community. In fact, by posting here, you've exemplified awareness-raising. Aside from creating a buzz around the issue, the fact that you are already an advocate is fantastic, as PAVSA can always utilize more volunteer advocates not only for direct service with trafficked individuals, but also to assist with events or fundraising that contribute to the cause. Your ideas and assistance are valuable and welcomed as we move forward in this fight to recognize and respond to sex trafficking.


about 9 years ago

Here is a link to an article from today's DNT outlining some recent local developments on the issue:

Advocates take step toward safe harbor in Duluth for victims of sex trafficking

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