Located in Los Angeles’ Skid Row area, The Midnight Mission has provided people experiencing homelessness with a broad range of services since 1914. From homeless shelters for women to job training and 12-step recovery programs, we’re committed to meeting the needs of our unhoused population. We’ve seen firsthand the effect that human trafficking has on the mental health of people struggling to survive.

Falling Prey to Human Trafficking

Defined as the exploitation of labor through force, fraud, or coercion, human trafficking is a crime that preys on society’s most vulnerable populations. Desperate for work, people who experience homelessness are particularly susceptible to sex trafficking. Some offenders promise payments of money, food, drugs, or shelter in exchange for their participation. Others use romantic relationships, violence, or manipulation to lure their victims into forced labor or prostitution.

While people of all ages and sexual orientations can become victims of human trafficking, they’re most often young women. Every night in Los Angeles County, more than 14,500 women experience homelessness. Unhoused minors who have experienced any of the following childhood traumas are especially at risk for sex trafficking.

  • Loss of a parent or caregiver
  • A history of sexual abuse
  • Neglect or lack of support
  • Sexual identity issues
  • Family substance abuse

Mental Health Repercussions

Whether forced into human trafficking or not, victims of sex trafficking may feel like escape is impossible. It’s not only the fear of retribution that may keep them from seeking help at our homeless shelters for women. The way they’re repeatedly objectified and violated time and time again takes a toll on the psyche. Victims may begin to believe they’re not worthy of anything better than the sex trade.

Denial, indifference, bravado – various coping strategies are often employed to deal with the shame and stigma associated with prostitution. Over time, keeping the crime a secret becomes almost second nature. Victims who contact Midnight Mission can find the help they need to break the cycle.

Getting Help From Midnight Mission

Human trafficking is one of the most devastating ways that homelessness affects women. At Midnight Mission, we work hard to turn things around by providing services that help empower women to change their lives. For women experiencing homelessness who have children with them, family shelters in Los Angeles offer a way out. Explore our HomeLight Family Living program for alternative options.

For more than a century, we’ve been proud to help our unhoused population with women, men, and family shelters in Los Angeles. We couldn’t do it without help from the community. We invite you to join the team by volunteering or making a monetary donation to Midnight Mission today. Thank you!