Attorney’s Role in Helping Human Trafficking Victims

Anoka County Court House

Anoka County Court House

Attorneys play a vital role in helping victims of human trafficking. Sometimes, when an attorney is working with domestic abuse victim, the victim might also be a victim of human trafficking. It is however important for an attorney to take the time to find out if his or her client is a victim of human trafficking.

The American Bar Association in it’s publication, Meeting the Legal Needs of Human Trafficking Victims: An Introduction for Domestic Violence Attorneys & Advocates of 2009 sheds light on how an attorney can screen their domestic abuse clients for victims of human trafficking. In the publication were highlighted questions that would better help an attorney in his or her service. The questions were divided into two parts for victims of United States residents and immigrants.

The association suggested the following 12 questions to its membersin screening clients for human trafficking.

  1. Have you ever been forced to work?
  2. Did anyone ever threaten to hurt you or your family if you did not work? Did anyone force you to cook or to clean the house?
  3. Were you lied to about the kind of work you would be doing?
  4. Did anyone take your money?
  5. What would have happened if you did not give that person your money? What did you fear would happen if you left? Were you ever forced to do something sexual for your abuser or someone else? Have you been involved in commercial sex?
  6. Did you know others in the same kind of situation as you were in?
  7. Were you able to keep your identification documents with you, or did someone take them from you?


These five questions are advised for use for immigrant clients:

  1. How did you enter the United States?
  2. Were you able to keep your passport, visa or identification with you, or did someone take it from you?
  3. Were you working to pay off a smuggler or other debt?
  4. Were you free to find another job to pay the debt,
  5. Were you forced to work at a certain place?


“Domestic violence attorneys have a unique opportunity to identify victims of human trafficking and to assist them in seeking legal relief. First, it is important to educate yourself on the dynamics and circumstances common to human trafficking situations,” it stated.

The association encouraged its members to learn the definition and the warning signs and understand that human trafficking occurs in contexts other than those most often depicted by the media.


Source: American Bar Association:

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