Asian Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence Leads Innovative Approaches to Advocacy for Victims of Human Trafficking

logo, Asian Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic ViolenceFor several years, the Department of Health and Human Services has been working to respond to human trafficking: the inhumane victimization of millions of women, men and children that has long been invisible from the public eye[1]. This commitment was strengthened with leadership from President Obama, with the Presidential Proclamation that declared January National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Prior to the President’s Proclamation, however, the Asian Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence (APIIDV), a resource center supported by the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, has been working on this issue. Asian advocates in the U.S. have pioneered services to victims of human trafficking since 2000, forging pathways to safety, re-integration into community, economic empowerment, and healing. For more than 10 years, APIIDV has led innovative approaches to educate advocates on the complex social and economic factors behind human trafficking, helping the domestic violence field to better assist victims. Over the past year alone, APIIDV has offered training and technical assistance to over 300 individuals, non-profit organizations, and federal employees.

Complementing the interactive trainings led by APIIDV, the APIIDV website features a host of resources dedicated to expanding awareness. Given the overlap between gender-based violence and human trafficking, these resources are valuable tools for domestic violence service providers and advocates to inform their work, particularly in serving Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Trafficking: Considerations & Recommendations for Battered Women’s Advocates, examines the data behind what we know about human trafficking, and offers an analysis of how the culture of violence against women plays a significant role in victimizing women and girls (similar to risk factors for domestic violence). This Technical Assistance Brief helps domestic violence programs navigate the implications of serving trafficked women, with regards to arrest, custody and release, legal representation and investigation, endangerment and confidentiality, shelter, medical records and care, and complex trauma. It also explains how human trafficking is fueled by demands for cheap, exploitable labor and the impunity of male demands for commercial sex. Health Issues Affecting Trafficked Individuals provides an overview of the types of medical challenges faced by victims of human trafficking; health care professionals will find this guide helpful in understanding how to begin to identify the various health complications experienced by victims.

As this important issue begins to receive the attention it deserves, APIIDV shares its expertise through collaborations with state domestic violence coalitions, community-based-organizations and community leaders to provide training to those in positions to help. “Of the many types of gender-based violence that women and girls are vulnerable to, nothing exposes the nexus of their entrapment, exploitation and oppression like trafficking,” says Chic Dabby, Director of the Asian Pacific Islander Institute for Domestic Violence. Resolved to put an end to this violence, APIIDV will continue to serve as a national leader in building knowledge to serve and empower human trafficking victims.

For more information on the Asian Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence and to request training or technical assistance, visit their webpage.

To learn more about how the Family Violence and Prevention Services Program (FVPSP) supports national resource centers like APIIDV, visit the FVPSP webpage.


[1] According to the Department of State, as many as 27 million women, men and children worldwide are victims of human trafficking. See: 2012 Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report.