Issues and Barriers Affecting Service Delivery for Trafficked Persons

Now that you know the principles of a human rights approach and before describing the various services a trafficked person may need, it is important to understand the barriers that may impact communications between you and a potentially trafficked person.

In Module 3, you learned how people who have been trafficked are often too scared, too confused, too ashamed, or unable to come forward on their own, preventing them from seeking support, protection, and services.

My Story: I hate human trafficking and everything it has done to me. I can’t wrap my mind around it. I slept last night with sharp objects, anything sharp I could find, under my pillow – in case something might happen. When I got [out], I was humiliated and ashamed. I’m not embarrassed anymore. I have anger and frustration nowadays. I should have been able to go to work and be safe. I’m lucky I left

- Rebecca

A trafficked person may exhibit behaviours that are confusing or inconsistent. The chart below sets out a range of emotions that can be exhibited by a person who has been trafficked and the resulting impact the emotion may have on their behaviour or communication style.

Tailoring your approach to providing services to a trafficked person, based on the information in this chart, may assist you in providing sensitive and appropriate care.

Emotion Impact
Fear (of or for trafficker, of police/authorities, of deportation)
  • Reluctance to meet people, to be alone, to go outside
  • Anxiety
  • Shaking or heart racing
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Reluctance to accept services for fear of consequences for self or family
Shame and guilt
  • Difficulty making eye contact
  • Difficulty expressing thoughts or feelings, details of events and experiences
  • Reluctance to undergo interviews and physical exams
Lack of trust
  • Distrustful or suspicious of service providers' intentions
  • Reluctance to disclose information, or may provide false information
  • Difficulty establishing healthy relationships with support persons and others
Mistrust of self, low self-esteem
  • Difficulty making and trusting own decisions
  • Difficulty planning for future
  • Blames self for situation
Dependence and subservience
  • Reluctance to make decisions
  • Desire to please
  • Easily influenced
  • Difficulty asserting themselves

In the following video, Mary Pichette, Executive Director of Servants Anonymous in Surrey, B.C., and Rose Henry, an Aboriginal community consultant from the Coast Salish territory, give their perspectives on working with a person who may have been trafficked.

Perspectives on Working with a Trafficked Person

(Video runtime 04:02)

(Transcript for the Perspectives on Working with a Trafficked Person video.)


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