On Sept. 23 over 70 professionals from the community, including law enforcement, prosecutors, mental health providers, and medical providers attended a training at the Center for Health Education and Research to be educated on forensic interviewing skill for victims of sexual assault and how to identify and respond to victims of human trafficking.

The training was conducted by the Attorney General's Office and Kentucky Claims Office.

The purpose of the training was to educate community members to work with victims of sexual assault in a trauma-informed way. Being trauma-informed means working with an understanding of how trauma scientifically affects the brain.

Understanding how trauma affects the brain allows someone to better serve the victim and the victim's mental health needs and work to ensure successful prosecution of the case. When professionals understands how trauma affects the brain, then they can better understand victims' responses and coping mechanisms.

The training also taught members to identify human trafficking victims and how to respond to victims.

Kentucky has some of the strongest human trafficking laws in the United States. In Kentucky, 332 victims of trafficking have been identified since 2008 by Bakita Empowerment Initiative, a Catholic Charities of Louisville Program.

Of those identified in Kentucky, 60% were children. The numbers are likely much higher, as trafficking happens in the most marginalized population and often goes unidentified and unreported.

The most common form of trafficking in rural Kentucky is familial trafficking. Trafficking is not white vans, random kidnappings, or what one might think of on television.

Human sex trafficking, as defined by statute, is when someone uses force, fraud, or coercion to cause a commercial sexual act with an adult or minor. Proof of force, fraud, or coercion is not necessary for a child under 18.

Human labor trafficking is when someone uses force, fraud, or coercion to cause an adult or minor to perform labor services. These services may be performed for no money, less than minimum wage, or to pay off a debt.

Rowan County now has a human trafficking taskforce.

The training was sponsored by the County Attorney's Office, Gateway Children's Advocacy Center, St. Claire HealthCare, and Mountain Comprehensive Care.

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