Since 2004, advocates across the country have shed light on the dangers of stalking and human trafficking throughout the month of January. As Native women in the United States have some of the highest rates of violent victimization for stalking and sex trafficking, the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) strongly supports the efforts to raise awareness of these crimes as part of National Stalking Awareness Month and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Each and every Native person has the right to feel safe in their own homes and communities.
At the NIWRC, we are continuously inspired by the efforts by Tribal governments and communities to increase safety and protections for Native people. We are honored to provide support by raising awareness of stalking and human trafficking and offering technical assistance and training, culturally based resources, and policy development. Our goal at the NIWRC has been and will continue to be supporting the sovereign rights of Tribal Nations to increase safety for their citizens and to prevent future acts of violence against the most vulnerable among us—Native women and children.
Please join us for National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on January 11th by wearing blue, taking an individual or group photo, and posting it on social media using #WearBlueDay. Throughout the month of January, please visit NIWRC’s social media pages and explore our monthly e-newsletter for sharable resources on both stalking and human trafficking to support victims in our communities.
Lucy Simpson (Diné)
Executive Director, NIWRC
What is Stalking?
Stalking is a pattern of unwanted behaviors that violates your privacy, making you feel frightened, in danger or scared. Stalking behaviors can include being followed and watched, receiving repeated calls, texts, unwanted gifts, letters and e-mails, being tracked through GPS, monitoring your computer and phone calls, threatening you or loved ones, driving by anywhere you are, finding information about you through family, relatives, your garbage, and other behaviors that are intimidating and controlling. Stalking is often connected to domestic violence and sexual violence.
Stalking is unpredictable and dangerous because no two stalking situations are alike. There are no guarantees that what works for one person will work for another, yet there are steps you can take to increase your safety. Never approach your stalker or attempt to deal with it by yourself – get help immediately.
If you’re being stalked:
- Know that it’s not ever your fault.
- Trust your feelings. If you feel unsafe or scared, get help.
- Do not respond to the stalker’s communications.
- Take all threats seriously, especially if there’s talk of suicide or murder, or if you’re trying to leave or have ended a relationship.
- Document everything that happens with time and dates, save texts, record phone calls, keep unwanted “gifts,” etc.
- Call the police and ask for written reports of all incidents.
- Get a protection or restraining order.
- Contact a domestic violence program or other victim services program for support and assistance.
- If you are being stalked by a current or former intimate partner or spouse, call the StrongHearts Native Helpline at 1-844-7NATIVE (762-8483) for help.
- Stay with family or friends or in a domestic violence shelter.
- Do not travel alone; change your routine and travel routes, if you can.
- Being stalked can cause fear, sleep problems or depression. Get support – it’s okay to ask for help.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is a crime involving the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel a person to perform some type of labor or commercial sex. Trafficking can happen in any community and anyone can be trafficked, regardless of age, race, gender, or nationality. Traffickers might use violence, physical and psychological torture, manipulation, or false promises of well-paying jobs or romantic relationships to lure victims into trafficking situations. People in severe poverty are often targets for human trafficking.
Another type of human trafficking is sex trafficking, which involves the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of commercial sex, in which sexual acts are induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.
Victims of sex trafficking are often isolated, “invisible” to society, labelled as “throw away kids,” addicts or targeted because they are already vulnerable. Traffickers can be part of a gang, organized crime syndicate or family member/ relative, so-called friend or boyfriend.
Signs of human trafficking or sex trafficking:
- Fearful and mistrusting
- Cannot buy their own food or clothes
- Cannot come and go freely
- No contact with relatives or friends
- Has scarring, cigarette burns, or tattoos/branding
- Signs of substance abuse or addition
- Has traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, or is anxious or depressed
If you or someone you know is being trafficked:
- Remember trafficking is never the victim’s fault.
- Know you have the right to be protected and to live without abuse.
- Reach out to your local domestic violence or sexual violence program. You can also contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
- Call local police if you or the victim are in danger.
- If you are being trafficked by a current or former intimate partner or spouse, call the StrongHearts Native Helpline at 1-844-7NATIVE (762-8483) for help.
- To report suspected human trafficking to federal law enforcement, contact the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at 1-888-347-2423.
- Download and share NIWRC Stalking and Human Trafficking awareness postcards on social media (see above).
- Subscribe to NIWRC mailing list to receive news, updates and resources through NIWRC Advocate! Beyond the Shelter Doors! monthly e-newsletters.
- Register for SOAR for Native Communities module on human trafficking and its impact in Native communities.
- Learn more about sex trafficking from the Polaris Project.
- Find resources on trafficking and exploitation by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
- Get involved with the Blue Campaign by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
- Read White House Proclamation on National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
- Learn more about human trafficking through the Human Trafficking Task Force E-Guide.
- View map of human trafficking services and task forces funded by the Office for Victims of Crime and the Bureau of Justice Assistance.
- Explore resources to respond to human trafficking by the Office for Victims of Crime.
- Explore resources by the Stalking Resource Center.
About the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center
The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Inc. (NIWRC) is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to restoring the sovereignty of Native nations and safeguarding Native women and their children. The NIWRC supports culturally grounded, grassroots advocacy and provides national leadership to ending gender-based violence in indigenous communities through the development of educational materials and programs, direct technical assistance and the development of local and national policy that builds the capacity of Indigenous communities and strengthens the exercise of tribal sovereignty. www.niwrc.org