Catalyzing essential conversations that help the industry understand the implications of current research on human trafficking, and the potential of research to improve the effectiveness of anti-trafficking programs and methods.

Rethinking the Response to Human Trafficking

After more than two decades of research, policy development, and interventions by humanitarian organizations, the pace of innovation and growth in the industry remains slow. Rescue and rehabilitation of survivors of sex trafficking and public education programs about the dangers of sex trafficking remain the primary methods of combating the problem.

A considerable amount of research has been done studying the effectiveness of current practices and theorizing new, more ethical, trauma-informed practices. At the same time the development sector has developed proven methods of addressing vulnerability that, for the most part, have not been incorporated into anti-trafficking responses.

Because of this, prevention is not effective. Victims are rescued but rehabilitation programs often fail to meet their needs, and in many cases are even harmful to the mental, social, and emotional health of survivors. Ultimately, resources are wasted in solutions that are not proven to be effective. A rethinking of the anti-trafficking industry’s approach to the problem is needed to incorporate evidence-based solutions suggested by research that focuses on addressing the root causes of exploitation, human trafficking, and modern slavery.

Ending human trafficking first requires that we acknowledge the role that vulnerability plays in human trafficking. Only then can we develop strategies to address the challenges faced by people in vulnerable situations.

To strategically innovate new approaches to end exploitation, trafficking, and slavery we:


  • Catalyze essential conversations
  • Host brainstorming sessions
  • Convene panels of experts
  • Compose white papers


  • Apply evidence from research to existing problems
  • Design implementation strategies for ideation concepts
  • Attempt to “break” new ideas and strategies, looking for existing weaknesses
  • Evaluate and rework existing strategies for greater effectiveness


  • Creatively challenge industry ideas and concepts
  • Critically evaluate current practices
  • Apply research to influence the development of policy

Anticipating Change

As the anti-trafficking industry fights to gain traction and eradicate human trafficking there is a need to look beyond the problems of today and anticipate the challenges that loom on the horizon in five or even ten years.

Anticipating these challenges requires future-focused strategic thinking that prioritizes prevention activities which address the physical, financial, social, and systemic challenges faced by populations vulnerable to human trafficking.

The Need for Professional Certifications

There is also a need for analyzing and understanding what skills and qualifications will be needed in the future to successfully prevent human trafficking and care for survivors. A key part of our thinking strategy is the conceptualization and strategic development of professional certifications for individuals and organizations and the delivery of training programs to qualify the next generation of anti-trafficking practitioners to drive innovation and professionalism in the industry.

We use the evidence provided by research and the successes of other humanitarian disciplines to develop innovative new solutions to the human trafficking crisis. These solutions will be developed, challenged, and tested in partnership with academic researchers, anti-trafficking organizations, and anti-slavery coalitions.

Thinking About Research on Survivor Stigma

The results of a 10 year longitudinal study called The Butterfly Study, that tracked the experiences of human trafficking survivors after they were rescued, as they spent time in shelters and reintegrated into the community were just published in the academic journal The Dignity Journal

There is an incredible amount of information to unpack, analyze and think about in terms of strategic implications for the anti-trafficking movement in this study.

Thinking Partners