The following comments are submitted freely from survivors of human trafficking (including those who are not members of the NSN), minimally edited for brevity or clarity, and reflect the views and perspectives of the individual survivors represented. People with lived experience of human trafficking can submit their opposition to HR2601 to be included on this page here: Submit your opposition to HR2601.
Are you someone with lived experience? View our campaign materials here, which include sample letters to send to your legislators: Survivor Campaign
Want to support survivors by letting your Representatives know you oppose HR2601? Text PRFUXT to 50409 to get started!
“As someone with lived experience of human trafficking, I oppose H.R. 2601 because it goes against everything that hotlines are used for private support without risking safety by getting law enforcement involved. Law enforcement is not always the answer in a human trafficking situation. And without a survivor being able to agree to their presence creates a great risk for survivors.” – Shannon Jones (cite as anonymous trafficking survivor if using in campaign materials)
“As someone with lived experience of human trafficking, I oppose H.R. 2601 because HR2601 is a bad bill that will impact survivors’ ability to have safety, autonomy and access to services.
After being trafficked, it was my decision to contact law enforcement. I was blessed to work with officers who listened to me and never threatened me with any criminal charges. I wanted to cooperate. Unfortunately, my trafficker never faced any consequences for his actions and is still actively operating his sexual exploitation company in Colorado. This was also prior to Obamacare so services were mostly unreachable for me. I could attend twelve-step meetings and utilize the CU Denver campus medical center for a sliding scale fee.
However, most survivors do not have the experience of contact with law enforcement being a positive one. Many survivors have experienced sexual and physical assault at the hands of law enforcement, faced criminal charges, loss of children, housing and other employment. HR2601 will directly impact their trust in the hotline as a resource for services.
Let’s work collectively to keep the hotline solid as a resource for survivors not, a law enforcement tipline. Survivors’ ability to make their own decisions after trafficking allows for them to have autonomy and empower themselves.” – Billie Jo McIntire
“As someone with lived experience of human trafficking, I oppose H.R. 2601 because involvement of law enforcement in my situation has historically caused more harm than good. As a trans person from Florida, mandates to involve law enforcement functionally require me to consent to scrutiny from law enforcement in order to access resources designated for survivors of trafficking. For myself, and for many survivors with structurally marginalized identities, mandated law enforcement involvement could be a strong deterrent to asking for help. For those whose lived experience of trafficking may have included involvement by corrupt or complicit members of law enforcement, requiring hotlines to report to law enforcement presents a direct safety risk.
It creates barriers for survivors reporting experiences of trafficking. Many survivors, myself included, have experienced danger from police in situations where we only wanted their help finding safety. If this bill had passed before I reached out to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, I would’ve been too afraid to call. The Hotline connected me to resources that were ultimately life-saving, and that I wouldn’t otherwise have known about. Mandating reports to law enforcement directly discourages many survivors from accessing the help they need.” – Andy Stowers Forest
“As someone with lived experience of human trafficking, I oppose H.R. 2601 because law enforcement agents were involved in perpetuating the trafficking I, and other children, went through. If it was required for safe hotlines to report this information to law enforcement, it could endanger those of us who had LEA as perpetrators. They could get that information and use it to threaten or coerce them into silence. Additionally, there are laws that can force survivors into incarceration while waiting for their perpetrator’s trial (essentially requiring them to be a witness, despite their consent). This risk is a reason many survivors, including myself, have not reported. Spending weeks, months, or even more in jail, simply because we’re a victim but are needed in “custody” for our perpetrator’s trial is a situation that would lead to the re-traumatization of many survivors, some of which would not be strong enough to survive it.” – Anonymous NSN Member
“As someone with lived experience of human trafficking, I oppose H.R. 2601 because victims and survivors of violence often do not disclose to law enforcement and other officials for various reasons. Maybe there is a shame; perhaps they have had negative experiences with law enforcement systems, and possibly their trafficker or abuser has used fear of incarceration or deportation to keep them from disclosing. Regardless, if victims or survivors of human trafficking know that their call will be automatically disclosed to law enforcement, they have a higher chance of not using the hotline. It is supposed to be a safe hotline where those who have experienced trafficking can go for resources, and this should not rely on their involvement with law enforcement. It also can take away from a victim’s right to choose how to engage with services during or after their experiences.” – Rebekah Layton, M.A.
“As someone with lived experience of human trafficking, a former member of the US Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, a former Policy Chair for the National Survivor Network (NSN), and an active advocate for impacted communities experiencing human trafficking—the flagrant attempt to pass HR 2601 over the clear condemnation of the bill by national nongovernmental agencies working with anti-trafficking and lived experience experts is an abysmal policy effort that ignores the voices of the experts. This effort to pass a law enforcement-based approach to trafficking is a blatant appeal to voters who are not familiar with the policies in question.
From anecdotal evidence of victims of trafficking being arrested without identification as victims at rates of 70%, to the 2015 NSN survey showing a correlation to arrests and experiencing trafficking at rates of as high as 90%, there is a clear mistrust of law enforcement along racialized lines [among trafficking survivors]. Still, the US refers to underserved communities of ignored victims of trafficking that racist policing systems blatantly ignore—there is no reason to justify pushing this policy to demand the very communities being harmed by law enforcement into working with them….
Promoting horrible anti-trafficking policies at the last minute to wave around and congratulate yourselves in January for National Human Trafficking Awareness Month during election years is blatantly apparent as empty talking points for personal gain and election campaigns… Whose lobbyist money is paying for the promotion of HR 2601? Why is this bill being pushed now-November of 2023 to pass it before the election campaigns of 2024 and promote it during the Human Trafficking Awareness Month as “helping” anyone while ignoring the people saying that this is harmful and that it will just stop individuals from trusting the call center in the first place. Mandating law enforcement engagement when marginalized communities have a proven track record of not being safe with law enforcement shows the utter contempt of the very people you proclaim to be concerned with. This is a horrible policy, these are contemptuous reasons for pushing it now, and the complete disregard for experts in the field’s opinion on this only shows the utter contempt by Congress in this matter. Oppose HR 2601.” – Nat Paul (do not use these comments in campaign materials without prior approval from Nat)
“As someone with lived experience of human trafficking, I oppose H.R. 2601 because hotlines are a confidential resource for survivors, advocates, and communities to obtain resources. Not every survivor will want, or even benefit from, law enforcement involvement. In many cases, people with experience of trafficking may actually suffer more when law enforcement becomes involved. Aspects of trafficking, including legal abuse, forced criminality, and doxxing and harassment, can place people being trafficked at a higher risk of violence. This is especially true for people whose lived experience includes abuse by law enforcement, which can include the direct involvement of law enforcement as traffickers.
Trafficking is a major human rights violation, one that consists of the total revocation of choice and consent. Forcing calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline to be reported to law enforcement only revokes that choice further. Only survivors can speak to whether or not law enforcement can be helpful in their individual case. Survivors of trafficking are not a monolith.
Additionally, reporting every call to the Hotline will only increase the backlog of reports to law enforcement. Moral panics, including the Wayfair scandal and other conspiracies peddled by hate groups such as QAnon, have resulted in an increase of fraudulent calls to the hotline. These calls already limited actual survivors from receiving support and referrals. Requiring every call to be reported will only cause more false tips, limiting survivors who do want support from law enforcement from being able to receive this help. It is hard enough to receive legal services as a survivor, but with the increase in reports by conspiracy theorists that we’ve seen in recent years, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to follow through on reported cases.
H.R. 2601 is not a survivor-centered bill. This bill will center the wants and needs of politicians and the surveillance state, leaving survivors only more vulnerable to further abuse. As a survivor who contacted the hotline throughout my own process of leaving my trafficking situation, I see no benefit to this bill. If I had known my calls would be reported to law enforcement, I would have never utilized the National Hotline. Confidentiality was essential to my experience of leaving, and of being able to finally live life on my own terms. If our representatives and political leaders truly care about survivors, and about ending trafficking all together, they will vote NO on H.R. 2601 and will preserve the hotline as a confidential resource, rather than transform it into a tip line that further surveils people being trafficked.” – Anastasia Lynge, MSW
“As someone with lived experience of human trafficking, I oppose H.R. 2601 because: