As October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, these weeks are an opportunity to mourn with those who have suffered tremendously, celebrate the lives of survivors, and reaffirm our goal of eradicating violence against the vulnerable in our society. While LifeWay Network focuses on the survivors of human trafficking, these two issues intersect frequently and it’s important to understand these connections :
Power and Control
Human trafficking and domestic violence rely on a totally skewed power dynamic: the trafficker or the abuser will use tactics that are designed to keep the other (usually female) person submissive. Traffickers will sometimes have the same intimate relationships with their victims that abusers do and both will use methods ranging from emotional manipulation to physical violence in order to keep them in line. Because traffickers and abusers will use the language of love in conjunction with these threats, manipulation, and violence, survivors can have difficulty leaving these relationships even if they are physically able to do so. The Power and Control Wheel developed by Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs demonstrates the different ways a trafficker or abuser maintains his or her power (click to enlarge). It’s not so simple as just walking out the door: these tactics can keep a survivor in a violent and/or exploitive relationship that she has been taught to perceive as intimate.
Survivors of both domestic violence and human trafficking do not fit one particular demographic, but they are often in vulnerable circumstances. Leaving an abuser or a trafficker is an enormous challenge because the survivor has been manipulated into thinking she or he is isolated with no one to turn to and no resources to fall back on. Resources can be difficult to find and the fears associated with leaving (stigma, shame, etc.) can feel insurmountable. Human trafficking and domestic violence are double tragedies in that they involve both harmful physical circumstances and deeply damaging emotional consequences.
The insidiousness of human trafficking and domestic violence is such that, to the untrained eye, they can often escape detection. Unless you have been taught to recognize the signs, it can be easy to not give a second thought to the tattoo that says “Daddy’s Little Girl” (sometimes a marker of someone who is being trafficked) or to someone’s inexplicable bruises and injuries. A critical component of our mission at LifeWay Network is educating the public and people in specific sectors (hospitals, hotels, etc.) to recognize those very signs and connect survivors with the resources they need.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month is crucial because it sheds light on an issue that is often buried. As we continue our fight against human trafficking, this is something we at LifeWay Network can get behind.
To learn more about Domestic Violence Awareness Month, click here.
To schedule an educational session for a group that cares about ending this kind of violence, click here.