Do No Harm When Working with Trafficked Persons

Each encounter with a trafficked person can have a positive or negative effect on their health and well-being. Treat all contact with a trafficked person as a potential step towards improving their life, and:

  • Consider the impact of your actions. Even with the best intentions, it is important to consider the possible harmful impact your words and actions may have on a trafficked person. This may require re-thinking your initial response if it might negatively impact the trafficked person’s safety, trust, or emotional state.
  • Avoid re-traumatizing the person. Recounting the details of their experiences can lead to significant physical, psychological, and social stress, or even cause them to relapse into a state of trauma.
  • Only make promises you can keep. People who have been trafficked are used to broken promises. It is important to break this cycle. Set realistic expectations and boundaries and acknowledge areas where additional support may be required.
  • Stop if necessary. If you have any reason to believe that carrying out an interview or conducting an examination or procedure will negatively impact the trafficked person, stop — at least for the time being.
  • Use caution when speaking to the media. Human trafficking may be sensationalized by the media. Use caution when speaking about a specific situation that may involve human trafficking. It is best not to talk to the media unless you have specific permission to do so from the trafficked person. For more information, see the publication If the Media Calls: A Guide for Crime Victims & Survivors by the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime.

My Story: Many people have told me that I shouldn’t feel guilty and that it was not my fault, but deep down inside of me I have a hard time believing that I could not have stopped the series of events from rolling out the way they did.  I now just think of what would’ve happened had I not gotten [away] that day.

- Leann


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