2024 Equity Challenge Day 10: Anti-Trafficking: A Health Crisis

Our fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time… The change we seek will not come easy, but we can draw strength from the movements of the past.

President Barack Obama

▶ LISTEN TO DAY 10 – 6:54

Trigger Warning: Please note that today’s material has themes and examples of human trafficking, sexual assault, and violence. Please take care of yourself as you go through today’s email. If you are a survivor and need support, you can receive free, confidential help with Avalon Healing Center through their 24-hour hotline at 313-474-SAFE

Today’s entry was written by Avalon Healing Center, one of our Equity Challenge Community Group Partner Organizations. Learn more about Avalon Healing Center at the bottom of today’s email.

Every year, thousands of people experience abuse in the form of human trafficking. However, there are many misconceptions and myths around the subject. Human trafficking is the unlawful act of transporting or coercing people to benefit from their service, typically seen as forced labor or sexual exploitation. According to US law, trafficking must include a perpetrator forcing, defrauding, or coercing a victim to provide sexual acts or labor services against their will.

There are many misperceptions and myths about human trafficking. A few of them include:

  • Myth: Only women and girls can be victims and survivors of sex trafficking.
  • Reality: Men and boys are also victimized by sex traffickers. LGBTQ boys and young men are seen as particularly vulnerable to trafficking.
  • Myth: All commercial sex is human trafficking.
  • Reality: Adults may engage in commercial sex acts without participating in human trafficking. In adult cases, the Polaris Project notes that force, fraud or coercion must be present for the situation to be identified as trafficking. According to the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act established in 2000, minors engaged in commercial sex acts is considered a trafficking case regardless of the presence of force, fraud or coercion.

Human trafficking affects all of us, however, survivors are disproportionately women and girls of color. According to a two-year national review by Rights 4 Girls:

  • 94% of sex trafficking victims were female.
  • 40% were Black
  • 24% were Latinx.
  • In Cook County, Illinois, 66% of sex trafficking victims were black women between 2012-2016. In Nebraska, 50% of the individuals sold online for sex are Black, though Black people comprise only 5% of the general population.

Perpetrators of human trafficking leverage power and control over their victims to create a cycle of abuse. The Human Trafficking Power and Control wheel was created an anti-trafficking educational tool to help explain how this happens.

It’s important to understand that trafficking is an urgent health crisis impacting individuals across the globe. Survivors of trafficking face health issues like mental trauma, physical trauma, isolation, and lack of independence (Administration for Children and Families).

Anti-Trafficking advocacy efforts have pushed the federal government to focus on stopping trafficking and humanizing the survivors. To do this, we all must listen and look at the complete picture. As community members and agencies, we can offer support to those who are currently in a human trafficking situation as well as those who are survivors.

Avalon inspires healing and empowerment for those affected by sexual violence through free and immediate comprehensive services promoting public awareness and advancing social change. Please see Avalon’s call to action in the resources below for ways you can support anti-trafficking work.






  • Learning how to recognize key indicators of human trafficking is a helpful way to be a supportive ally. If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free hotline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-373-7888. Below are some common indicators to help recognize human trafficking. Please note, not all the listed indicators are present in every trafficking situation and the absence or presence of any indicator isn’t necessarily proof of trafficking.
    • Does the person feel disconnected from family, friends, community, organizations, or houses of worship?
    • Has a child stopped attending school?
    • Has this person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
    • Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?
    • Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
    • Does this person have bruises in various stages of healing?
    • Is this person fearful, submissive, or timid?
    • Does this person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?
    • Does this person appear to be coached on what to say?
    • Is this person living in unstable living conditions? Is this person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?
  • Continue to educate both yourself and your social circles while advocating that your workplace, organizations, etc. learn about trafficking while keeping resources readily available. The Blue Campaign is a great place to access free workplace resources.
  • Join us this Friday for our Community Action Friday project at Avalon Healing Center. This project will include a learning session on anti-trafficking. You can get more information and sign up on our volunteer portal.

Reflect And Share

  1. What is something you learned today? How will that impact you moving forward?
  2. Have you found yourself believing any of the myths about human trafficking? How has today’s content debunked those myths?
  3. How can you support anti-trafficking work?


Start the conversation. Send the tweet. Share your story. Make the Facebook post. Sharing what you learn and experience with your family, friends, and co-workers is the first step toward allyship.

Join thousands in conversation by using hashtag #EquityChallenge or #TakeTheEC24