Human trafficking exists in Virginia.
Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain labor or a commercial sex act. In Virginia, human trafficking is a crime and those who are trafficked are treated as criminals. Trafficking is a “hidden crime” because victims do not come forward due to a variety of barriers, including fear of their traffickers and law enforcement.
Due to lack of comprehensive data, we cannot say for sure how many victims of human trafficking exist in Virginia. Most data comes from calls made to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. However, many cases are not reported to the hotline or survivors reach out to services through alternative means. You can read more about Virginia’s statistics here.
Victims of human trafficking have experienced a heinous crime. Given the nature of trafficking, many victims need resources, services, and laws geared toward their specific situations. VCAHT advocates for trauma-informed, comprehensive policies and reform to ensure that survivors’ needs are being met by the state and beyond.
We are fighting for better laws and policies to protect trafficking victims.
Through legislation, we hope to provide the tools to create a safer, trauma-informed legal system that prioritizes and protects victims of human trafficking. You can help us by becoming an advocate for survivors and taking a stand against injustice.
Read about VCAHT’s priorities for this year’s session.
Toolkits for Advocates
VCAHT provides comprehensive toolkits for legislative advocacy.
Learn more about the myths and facts behind human trafficking.
Threats to Victims
Traffickers use harsh physical and psychological tactics including severe emotional and sexual abuse, threats against victims and loved ones, isolation from support networks, withholding immigration documents or threatening to expose immigration status, financial control, and physical harm to maintain control over their victims. These tactics can cause not only short-term pain and emotional trauma, but they can also leave victims with lasting conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, panic disorder, major depression, substance abuse, and more.
Many of these victims are forced to break the law, and instead of relieving victims, Virginia punishes them as criminals. This makes it harder to find places to live, get jobs, and have access to education.
We put survivors first.
Our team wants to ensure Virginia is providing the necessary resources and services survivors need through legislation and advocacy.
Support for Survivors
Survivors should not be criminalized for committing crimes that are due to their status as victims. Their victimization was not identified while they were moving through the system.
Vacatur is when the court overturns a conviction and dismisses the underlying charge. Victims carry criminal records with them for the rest of their lives. Vacatur is a form of relief a court may grant to victims (both minors and adults).
Expungement is the complete destruction or redaction of criminal records.
If survivors are not at fault for crimes they were forced to commit, then they should never have been arrested and charged. Vacatur and expungement would set the record straight and right past wrongs, allowing survivors to move on with their lives.