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Human Trafficking in South Dakota

Did you know that only 1-3% of trafficked victims are identified and human trafficking has become the 2nd largest criminal industry in the world (and growing)?

On February 8, SDAHO hosted Wagner Larson Silva from Call to Freedom to bring human trafficking awareness to healthcare professionals. Silva provided an overview on the definition and what type of trafficking is happening in South Dakota. In respect to healthcare professionals, she discussed red flags or indicators in the healthcare setting and described current services available to trafficking victims and survivors. Some indicators of a possible victim include tattoos indicating ownership, does not possess identification documents or money, evidence of controlling or dominating relationship, to name a few. In addition, Silva addressed several physical and mental health signs to look for when assessing patients.

According to Silva, the best way to identify and help a trafficking situation is to be educated on how it happens, understand relationship dynamics and have the ability to identify red flags. If you feel a patient may be in a controlled environment and needs help, she recommended the following questions be asked:

  • Has anyone threatened to hurt you or your family if you refused to what they asked?
  • Does someone else control access to transportation or not allow you to come and go as you please?
  • Is someone else in control of your personal identification or other documents?
  • Are you not permitted to use the phone or other communication devices; restricted or isolated from family or friends?
Silva provided steps on how to help children and adults that have been identified as being trafficked and shared resources available to aid in response. To listen to the entire presentation, click here (available to SDAHO members only).

Call to Freedom provides supportive services for victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. By creating a strong network of frontline providers who offer safe housing, mental health counseling, medical assistance, chemical dependency, transportation and other supportive services. To learn more about Call to Freedom visit https://calltofreedom.org/.

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