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The Link Between Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking

Written by Madison Pigford


October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and it can show us the important links between the abuse of domestic violence and human trafficking. It is not uncommon for people who are victims of trafficking to have previously experienced some form of intimate partner violence.


There have been cases all over the world, including the United States, where people are lured into marriages or relationships before being trafficked. A UNICEF study showed that almost 70% of adult female trafficking victims experienced domestic violence prior to being trafficked.


It is important to note that many times, it can be difficult to identify abuse within domestic violence due to the normalization of this type of violence. There have been countless recorded cases where people have been promised love or a relationship, but then that promise is used to coerce the victim into trafficking. This is the perfect example of the intersection of domestic violence and trafficking.


In addition to sex trafficking, many people experiencing this type of partner abuse also are subjugated to labor trafficking. They are forced to work in family-owned businesses or small businesses to perform manual labor. This labor trafficking is also brought on by means of coercion.


When hearing all this, we need to remember why the link between these two things are important. Studies show that domestic violence can propel people into a cycle of trauma that makes them more vulnerable to being trafficked. Recognizing the warning signs of domestic violence can be an important tool to help combat trafficking.


Red Flags of Domestic Violence Include:

  • Showing extreme jealousy when partner wants to spend time with friends/family

  • Insulting, demeaning, or shaming partner

  • Preventing partner from making their own life decisions (work, school, etc.)

  • Controlling all finances making their partner depend on them

  • Pressuring partner into sexual acts

  • Pressuring partner to use drugs or alcohol

  • Threatening harm if partner does not comply with demands


If you or anyone you know believes they are a victim of domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 for help.


Y4A works to help bring awareness to topics such as this that can lead to violence of trafficking. We work to educate the public through student leaders to help raise awareness and combat trafficking.



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