Human Trafficking

Human trafficking, a multibillion dollar industry, is modern-day slavery.  It involves the use of coercion, fraud, and force to obtain labor, commercial sex acts, or human organs through means of exploitation.

Human Trafficking Myths and Misconceptions

Myth:  Human trafficking is only sex trafficking.
Fact:  Human trafficking can include forced domestic, industrial, farm labor, sale of organs, and the sex industry.

Myth:  Human trafficking only involves individuals in or from other countries.
Fact:  Human trafficking occurs in the United States.  The majority of trafficking in the U.S. is sex trafficking. An estimated 75-85 percent of trafficking in the U.S. is in the sex trade [1].  The economic impact is large; a study focused on eight U.S. cities – Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Seattle, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. – found that the underground sex economy was worth an estimated $39.9-$290 million dollars [2].  More than 80 percent of sex trafficking victims in the U.S. are citizens [3].

Myth:  Human trafficking victims will attempt to seek help when in public.
Fact:  Human trafficking is often a hidden crime and victims may be afraid to come forward to receive help.  Victims may not be in possession of their legal identification documents and may be receiving threats or physical violence from their trafficker.

More than 25 percent of trafficking victims are seen by a medical professional but not identified as victims [3]. 

A medical provider must provide a safe environment where victims of human trafficking are free to speak and seek help.  Individuals who are being trafficked are victims, regardless of age or diagnosis, including addiction and mental health issues.  The basic needs of a human trafficking victim must first be addressed, a patient cannot progress with care until they feel safe, well fed, and can sleep soundly.  Your knowledge about available resources can encourage a victim that there is help.  Familiarize yourself with local resources for victims.  Victims will need to know there are resources to meet their immediate needs.  Some keywords to search for local resources are:

  • Restorative Care
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Transitional Housing

The Florida Board of Nursing now requires a two hour course on human trafficking.  For more information, take our class!

“Alongside aggressive criminal enforcement, we recognize that we must foster an environment in which victims are willing to speak without fear of reprisal, stigma, or punishment.”

~ Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, 2015


  1. National Human Trafficking Resource Center. NHTRC Web site.
  2. Dank M, Khan B, Downey PM, et al. Estimating the size and structure of the underground commercial sex economy in eight major US cities. Washington DC: Urban Institute; 2014. Accessed August 2017:
  3. Pardee M, Munro-Kramer M, Bigelow A, Dahlem G. Domestic minor sex trafficking: missed clinical opportunities. Clinical Advisor Web site. Published May 13, 2016. Accessed August 2017.