There is a growing body of research on human traffic and the impact it has on those who experience it. Despite this, there still remains limited research on the dynamics off trafficking experiences of survivors with a disability. However, from the research we do have points to an increased risk as well as increased prevalence of human trafficking involving those with a disability. According to multiple studies, sex trafficking is experienced at heightened rates by those with intellectual and physical disabilities.

Persons with Intellectual Differences show higher rates of sex trafficking.

In a 2020 study by Franchino-Olsen and colleagues uncovered heightened sex trafficking among those with low cognitive ability, in which 9.7% of those with low cognitive ability experienced sex trafficking compared to 2.16% of those who did not have low cognitive ability.

Martin and colleagues in 2021 found in their analysis that prevalence of sex trading among those with an individualized education plan was 2.8% compared to the overall rate of 1.4%, showing a heightened rate of sex trafficking among minors with an individualized education plan. This is important as we consider our prevention efforts with parents, students and educators.

Persons with Disabilities experience abuse and neglect at higher rates.

Within the larger body of research on trafficking we know that abuse and neglect, particularly sexual abuse increase likelihood of sex trafficking. It is important for us to be aware that children with disabilities experience child abuse and neglect at higher rates than children without disabilities. Because of the social stigma and challenges with they face with communication traffickers may target individuals with disabilities.

Persons with disabilities experience susceptibility to exploitation.

The unequal power dynamics that exist with a person with disabilities and their caregiver(s) can lead to increased susceptibility of exploitation by their caregiver. These factors speak to the vulnerability faced by individuals with disabilities. It is important that we consider individuals with disabilities in our prevention and education efforts.

Below are research articles to learn more about trafficking and individuals with disabilities

Dignity: A Journal of Analysis of Exploitation and Violence “ Human Trafficking of People with aa Disability: An Analysis of State and Federal Cases

Journal of Human Trafficking: Disability and the Risk of Vulnerability to Human Trafficking: An Analysis of Case Law