It is important to understand where survivors are coming from, recognize the feelings they might be experiencing as a result of their traumatic experience so that you can assist them more effectively.
Survivors may be feeling a combination of fear, guilt, anger, helplessness and a lack of control, betrayal and mistrust. This makes a very uncomfortable time for the survivors in an interview setting, as well as a difficult situation for interviewers and support staff in caring for and assisting trafficked people.
There are a few things you can do and to keep in mind, when talking with or interviewing, a survivor of trafficking that will make this a less traumatic experience for them and help you get the most accurate information from them. Starting by providing for any practical needs is crucial, as it demonstrates your desire to help and assists in building trust between you and the survivor. Ensuring the survivors safety, offering them a support person in the interview and creating an environment where the survivor is encouraged to make simple decisions that build confidence and autonomy, are all important. Engage in a conversational style interview, being flexible and allowing for breaks, making eye contact and not conducting the interview in a hurried manner will help to put the survivor at ease. It is very important that you believe the survivor, showing your support of them and having a non-judgmental attitude, at all times making it clear through your conversation and actions that you respect the survivor and their experience. Engaging in some of these techniques will greatly improve your ability as a first responder, to respond effectively to survivors of trafficking.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: Anti-human trafficking manual for criminal justice practitioners – Module 8.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM): Handbook on Direct Assistance for Victims of Human Trafficking
Human Trafficking Foundation: Trafficking Survivor Care Standards
UNODC: Toolkit to Combat Trafficking in Persons
National Criminal Justice Reference Service: Sex trafficking, identifying cases and victims