The dire circumstances of the lives of human trafficking victims can make the problem seem insurmountable. But this crime doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s possible to identify the forces that shape this issue — and to create better solutions that may prevent trafficking before it begins.

Human trafficking is part of a continuum of violence and vulnerability, and deeply tied with desperation, economic instability, and — at least in terms of sex trafficking in Maine — trauma and addiction. We know that youth who grow up with more adverse childhood experiences than their peers — violence, addiction, loss and having someone close them incarcerated — grow up more likely to have more of these same experiences, as well as job and food insecurity, poverty and chronic health concerns.

The same is true of many victims of trafficking: the Maine Human Trafficking Needs Assessment tells us that most Maine trafficking survivors experience serious instability in their youth — which can make them more vulnerable to exploitation.

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