Maine's First Human Trafficking Needs Assessment
Conducted in 2015 by Hornby Zeller Associates, Inc., the Maine Human Trafficking Needs Assessment used known statistics, surveyed law enforcement, and interviewed service providers, stakeholders and survivors to paint a picture of human trafficking in Maine.
While we realize there is no one single type of survivor, these are characteristics commonly associated with sex trafficking survivors in Maine identified in the assessment:
- Prevalence of sex trafficking in Maine ranges between 300 and 400 cases annually.
- We do not have enough information to determine the prevalence of labor trafficking at this time.
- Nearly 40% of law enforcement officers have seen a trafficking case in the last year.
- 71% of law enforcement officers were not familiar with any organizations in Maine addressing human trafficking.
- Fewer than half of all law enforcement officers in Maine believe that their departments are prepared to address cases involving minors.
- Streamline guidance, materials and language to use. Maine Sex Trafficking and Exploitation Network (MaineSTEN) produced guide for reporting and discussing trafficking. Numerous providers described the importance of agreeing on and using common language to shift public perceptions. Coordinated training across disciplines is encouraged. The influence of mainstream and social media on community awareness is particularly important.
- Increase community awareness of red flags and how to respond appropriately. Include education to the hospitality, health, and beauty service sectors. Reinforce that this is an issue affecting many populations across the state rather than exclusive to urban areas and limited to foreign nationals.
- Continue to expand focus on prevention through connecting with schools. Young adults, especially those in high-risk environments, need to learn about personal relationships; self-empowerment; choice and control. Concrete information about warming signs of abuse and violence can be extended to adults, teachers and other caregivers working with children and families.
- Enhance support services available to victims 24/7. Aside from crisis and emergency response services, the complex needs of trafficking victims extend beyond the traditional workday. Many situations require carefully assembled response teams with safety and personal integrity as the priority. Shelter and basic needs are always necessary.
- Consider mentorship as an interim plan of support. Given the transient nature of victims, and the frequent interaction with law enforcement, organized advocates and mentors can be trained to work alongside designated service providers to assure support at whatever stage of being in or getting out of the life.
- Designate a state lead to coordinate improved data collection. Service providers around the state would benefit from using a standardized data collection tool. Similarly, law enforcement would benefit from implementing the UCR typology. One entity should be designated to coordinate data improvement efforts, decide what to count, and help providers implement the process. The appointed lead could compile, analyze, and distribute data to all involved agencies.
- Expand state oversight and service support for labor trafficking. The lack of regulation limits the rights and safety of labor trafficking victims, as well as the state’s response. The next step should be engaging the various stakeholders within the state to explore whether labor trafficking victims could benefit from a response that mirrors the case management and multi-disciplinary approach to serving those being sex trafficked.
Services and Gaps by Stage of Involvement in Trafficking
In the Life
Crime Victimization Report
View the 2022 Maine Crime Victimization Report
The purpose of the Maine Crime Victimization Report is to increase knowledge about the prevalence and dynamics of various violent crimes in the state, including human trafficking. This data is unique because it is collected using anonymous surveys, whereas a lot of information about violent crime is extracted from sources like police reports, prosecution data, and service provider records. As such, this report provides unique insight into experiences that victims/survivors never reported or sought help for.
According to the 2022 Crime Victimization Report, approximately 3% of adults in the state have been trafficked in their lifetime. The Mainers most likely to report being trafficked were:
- Persons of color
- Living with a household income of $25,000 or less
- Between the ages of 18 and 44
- Between 2007 and December 2017, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline has received over 417 calls from Maine and identified at least 44 cases where trafficking was likely perpetrated. (National Human Trafficking Resource Center,)
- Of the 80 homeless and street-involved women and youth surveyed by Preble Street Teen Center in its 2012 study, 24 percent reported they had been offered drugs in exchange for sex with a stranger, and 26 percent reported they had been asked by someone to have sex with a stranger for payment. (McLaughlin, T. and Cameron D. (2012). Sex exploitation and trafficking among youth utilizing services at Preble Street Teen Center.)
- Preble Street Anti-Trafficking Services, since spring 2014, has served over 168 victim/survivors, nearly 90 percent of whom did not have stable housing at intake. (Preble Street Anti-Trafficking Services).
- The first-ever Federal Human Trafficking Report detailed all civil and criminal cases handled by federal courts in the year 2017 totaling 783 active cases. (The Human Trafficking Institute).
- The best available estimates indicate that between 70-90 percent of commercially sexually exploited youth are survivors of childhood sexual abuse. (Murphy, P. (1993). Making the connections: Women, work and abuse. Paul M. Deutsche Press, Orlando, FL.)
- Freedom Network members served 3,919 survivors of human trafficking from the beginning of 2015 through the end of 2016 (Freedom Network Member Report, 2018).
- The majority (58 percent) of trafficked persons served by Freedom Network members during the period had experienced sex trafficking while an additional 9 percent had been trafficked for both sex and labor.
- The number of transgender trafficking survivors served has grown to represent nearly 3 percent of all trafficked persons served by Freedom Network members during the 2015-2016 reporting period.
- There is no official estimate of the total number of human trafficking victims in the U.S., but Polaris estimates that the total number of victims nationally reaches into the hundreds of thousands when estimates of both adults and minors and sex trafficking and labor trafficking are aggregated (Polaris Project).
- In 2016, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center received 27,201 calls, 2,137 webforms, and 1,580 emails. (Polaris Project).