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New State Agency for Trafficking Survivors? Lawmakers Discuss

Some people who are rescued may not want to admit it. That may be why a state agency wouldn't work.

STATE HOUSE--People who are being used against their will for labor or in the sex trade, may not want to get help. The reasons for that were discussed this week in a hearing at the Indiana state house. The discussion is whether to create a new state agency to help adults who have been trafficked.

"From what I have seen in investigations, most people, men and women who have been trafficked, do not want to admit that status," said Denise Robinson, an attorney with the state attorney general's office. 

"With labor trafficking, which is probably in Indiana our largest component number of victims, you have cultural issues. You have language barriers, immigration issues," said Robinson. With people who are being forced into the sex trade and are rescued, the problems can be much more complex.

"You have deep-seated psychological issues, where many truly believe they are not a victim," said Robinson. That may be because they have been in the trade a long time.

"The saddest thing I've heard in some of my investigations has been, as bad as it has been with my trafficker, it's better than where I came from. It's better than what it was before." Robinson said other people may be ashamed because of the stigma that goes with being a survivor of sex trafficking.

She said she fears that creating a new state agency that mandates people to be in the system, if they are rescued from human trafficking, may not help people.

"I simply don't know how we take some one who's just been caught up in that and mandate it through a state agency."

It was suggested earlier this week by Rep. Sharon Negele (R-Attica) that a new agency might help adult survivors, where Child Services helps child survivors.

Robinson said she does believe the state needs a "clearing house", a single point where people who are still being trafficked, or may have recently been rescued, can go to find a list of all the services and service providers in the state.

"Right now we have disparate agencies doing their thing and doing it well, but...very few people know what they're doing."

Robinson pointed out that some of those agencies are faith-based, and that she would not want to see a situation where a state referral couldn't be to one of the faith-based organization, which she said are doing good work.

PHOTO: Thinkstock/Favor of God

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