#TalkTraffic: The Importance of Legal Services for Trafficking Survivors
Survivors of trafficking need a wide range of legal services. It takes expert legal knowledge and experience to work with a survivor as he or she moves through immigration, criminal justice, housing, civil litigation, or family law issues. This video explains how survivors can work with their lawyers on navigating different legal systems.
What You Need To Know
Properly trained lawyers are a critical part of a trafficking survivor’s support team. Expert and qualified lawyers work to protect survivors’ legal rights, which helps people re-gain their own voice and make decisions about how they want to move forward with their lives.
Lawyers who understand the dynamics of trafficking can help survivors tell their stories in a safe way that protects their legal rights and gets them the help they need and deserve. This means:
- Listening to survivors explain their understanding of their own experience.
- Helping survivors figure out what they want from different legal systems and what their goals are, so the survivor can decide how he or she wants to move forward.
For this reason, lawyers working with trafficking survivors or people at risk should be qualified to provide appropriate legal services, and have the necessary training and expertise in this work. They should also be able to provide linguistically and culturally appropriate legal services.
- Trafficking survivors have a wide range of complex legal needs:
- Civil litigation.
- Family law.
- Child protection system.
- Criminal justice.
Within the criminal justice system, survivors’ legal needs include:
- Criminal defense, where a survivor has been arrested, often multiple times.
- Essentially erasing the criminal convictions from a survivor’s criminal record (from prior arrests) so he or she can find future employment and safe housing.
- Protecting a survivor’s rights and interests as he or she cooperates with law enforcement and prosecutors against a trafficker, if the survivor decides to do so.
Lawyers need to remember, each survivor has a different approach to what he or she wants and needs in order to move forward. Listening and supporting the survivor’s self-determination is key!
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Production Credits — Producers: Juhu Thukral and Jeffrey Yamaguchi. Video Production/Filming/Editing: Jordan Timpy and Cassie Timpy of Agape Visuals (Read their write-up about working on this project). Music: Broke For Free.