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  • Writer's pictureKim Westfall, Founder

5 Reasons Trafficking Survivors Need Legal Support

Updated: Jun 22, 2021

“Why would a survivor need a legal team,” someone asked our team.

You’ve heard us say that rescue is just the beginning of freedom. A survivor faces huge hurdles after rescue and before true freedom, let alone healing. Every survivor’s first steps to freedom include tackling some legal affairs. Just like most of us need help when it comes to legal matters, survivors need support, too. Every survivors’ situation is as unique as she is, but here are a few common legal issues survivors face before they can start their healing journey:

#1 Protection - survivors may need a restraining order or protection order against their trafficker. We know of many situations where a survivor escaped while her trafficker was still out there, sometimes in the same city. Survivors may need an attorney to make sure her enslaver is legally required to stay away. #2 Paperwork to Get Home - A huge number of Romanian survivors were smuggled into a different country in Europe. When this happens, her trafficker usually confiscates all of her identification and personal documents. She doesn’t get those back when she escapes. Legal teams can aid survivors in getting documents like passports to make sure she can go home to heal. #3 Criminal Record Relief - Too often, survivors are treated as criminals. One study showed that 91% of trafficking survivors had been arrested at least once. Survivors may need their records cleared or amended to make sure they’re able to go home AND get access to the support and employment they need to rebuild their lives. #4 Pressing Charges - If a survivor wants to report and press charges against her trafficker, she will need counsel to represent her. Only a tiny fraction of survivors take this step. Many are still afraid of their traffickers and their syndicates and would prefer to stay away. The sad reality is that traffickers are rarely brought to justice no matter who presses charges against them. #5 Defense Against Traffickers - Traffickers are unthinkably cruel. Multiple times over the past few months, we have had to defend survivors whose traffickers are suing them or trying to get them back into their clutches. These survivors had already been free for a year or more. When a trafficker comes back to terrorize a survivor, they need a strong team to keep them free and defeat the attack. At Uncaged, we are committed to making sure every survivor who gets free can stay free. That’s why our First Steps to Freedom for survivors include legal fees and support for legal issues. We cannot leave survivors vulnerable when they need protection the most. We’re raising an army that will stand between survivors and their traffickers. Together we say, “she was never yours, and you can never touch her again.” Join us today in making sure survivors get the support they need. Together, we can equip her to take her First Steps to Freedom.

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