AUSTIN (KXAN) — For some of the most vulnerable members of society, COVID-19 is making it harder to get resources and help. Advocates say the pandemic has made it harder for victims of human trafficking and other types of abuse to escape dangerous situations.
Korin Arkin who manages the National Human Trafficking Hotline’s call response says economic instability breeds the type of vulnerability that sex and labor traffickers prey on.
Additionally, the national hotline says required health screenings and transportation logistics are also causing delays.
“Sometimes shelters will be able to hold a bed for somebody, but only for a specific period of time 25 maybe for 48 hours and then if you can’t get there within that time, the bed might be given to someone else who needs it. So if you can’t get a flight or you can’t get a bus and you can’t show up there, then you’re just out of luck,” said Arkin.
The Austin based non-profit SAFE says its shelters are full, and its back-up shelters have had to limit their capacities to meet social distancing requirements. On top of that, SAFE employees can no longer meet victims at the hospital or in-person at all.
“Nearly all the shelters that we use are not taking any new, any new clients,” said Allison Franklin, SAFE Austin Senior Director of CARES (Collaboration, Advocacy, Response and Engagement for Survivors).
“We are doing it through phone, social media, whatever the platform is that our survivors are most comfortable with.”
Advocates stress it’s still vital that victims of trafficking, or abuse call in so they can start working on a plan.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline can be reached at (888)-373-7888.
SAFE can be reached at (512)-267-SAFE.