By: MOLLY WICKER
McGuire Woods Attorney and Douglass Fellows mentor Betsy Hutson recently authored an article in the Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch entitled “The cult next door: Debunking five misconceptions about human trafficking.” Hutson led a McGuire Woods team that secured an unprecedented $8 million civil judgement in May for human trafficking survivor Kendra Ross in her lawsuit against a nationwide cult and its leader.
In the WSJ opinion piece, she explained five myths about human trafficking: 1) that human trafficking is equal to smuggling, 2) that sex trafficking of young girls is the only form of human trafficking, 3) that traffickers always hold their victims in locks and chains, 4) that all trafficking victims are undocumented immigrants, and 5) that trafficking victims are immediately and consistently receptive to “rescue.”
Hutson also authored an article for Trafficking Matters, explaining the personal process of establishing trust with Ross and the challenges of representing a trauma survivor in litigation. She emphasize that understanding trauma survivors’ “nuanced needs” is crucial to providing effective legal representation.
“It is difficult for trafficking survivors to articulate the complexities of fear, dependence, loyalty, and the myriad of other conflicting emotions that influenced them to remain with their traffickers,” she wrote. “Working with Kendra, our aim was to have a victim-centered, trauma-informed approach that empowered her, avoided re-victimization, and restored a sense of autonomy and control to her.”