Across our work with survivors of human trafficking, one theme is often present: isolation. Traffickers tend to isolate their targets as a means of keeping them within their power. Disconnected from family, friends, and community—many individuals experiencing a trafficking situation feel as though they have nowhere to turn for help.
That’s what makes our 24/7 Human Trafficking Hotline so essential. It’s also why Eric Lucas, a Hotline Resource Specialist, is such a powerful player in the movement to end human trafficking in Colorado. We sat down with Eric to hear about his passion for human rights and experience answering calls from survivors on the Hotline. Keep reading to get inspired!
What built your passion for human rights issues?
“I’ve been kind of a loner my whole life,” Eric shared. Eric grew up witnessing domestic violence, and he left home at age 16. As a member of the LGBTQIA community, he faced discrimination and a sense of isolation. But rather than let these injustices make him jaded, Eric has dedicated his life to social justice. His personal experience fuels his empathy and passion for helping others. “I want to make sure I help individuals who don’t have a voice, especially for marginalized and underserved communities.” Eric’s drive to support those in need led him to become a volunteer Hotline Advocate at LCHT, and ultimately join our staff in January 2023.
How did you come across LCHT?
“I was in the middle of a graduate study program that focused on substance use counseling. As I was working with one of my clients, they had some issues where they brought up human trafficking. The Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking was a key referral for the organization where I was counseling. I did a lot of research on LCHT, and it fit right into my passion for the eradication of domestic violence and human trafficking. I wanted to get more involved.”
Eric’s exposure to the issue of human trafficking began during his work with Adelante Familia, an organization that focuses on Spanish-speaking women and children who are victims of domestic violence. He soon realized that many of the people he worked with there were survivors of labor trafficking. Migrant populations tend to be more vulnerable to human trafficking because of several reasons, including a fear of deportation or debt for employer-sponsored visas. This sparked Eric’s passion to be a part of the solution.
Why are resources like Colorado’s 24/7 Human Trafficking Hotline so important?
“The Hotline is a resource and tip provider,” Eric explains. “The majority of the callers that we have are either victims or survivors of trafficking who need resources to help find better situations than what they’re in, whether that’s housing, financial assistance, or counseling.”
Eric continues, “We have seen a significant increase in call volume over the last three years, so we know that the work that we’re doing is helping individuals to get the resources that they need to either escape from their trafficker or to find resources to better themselves.” A critical resource in Colorado, the Hotline connects survivors with the help they need to get out of their trafficking situation.
Can you share a story where you felt impactful in your role?
Eric recalls an experience on the Hotline where he helped a survivor find several resources she needed. They spoke for over an hour, realizing their similarities to one another and connecting on a personal level. At the end of their conversation, she told Eric how glad she was that he was a part of the Hotline team. He reflects, “I felt proud to be a part of an organization where I could at least help one person.”
What is one thing everyone should know about human trafficking?
“When I talk to people about the effects of human trafficking, it tends to be romanticized on television or in the movies. So, trying to bring a focus to what actually is happening when it comes to victims and survivors of human trafficking. We are dealing with a lot of individuals who are scared to tell their stories because they’re afraid that their trafficker is going to find them. So a lot of times, they’re more reserved about trying to seek help.
When they do seek help, I try to make sure that I provide the best resources, that I provide that information to the different communities that I’m a part of, and try to make sure that they have a good understanding of what human trafficking is and what to look for.”
Eric also tries to help others understand the wide range of populations and identities that human trafficking affects. “The biggest thing that I wish people would do? If you see something, say something, as long as it does not put the victim or survivor in harm’s way.”
Eric’s outspoken passion for ending human trafficking has helped many survivors find safer situations for themselves. >He has inspired friends and colleagues to join the fight against injustice. We are so grateful to have him on our team.
Amplify the Movement to End Human Trafficking!
This holiday season, you have the power to amplify anti-trafficking efforts in Colorado. Make a donation today to join changemakers like Eric in supporting survivors and making our communities safer. Your gift will drive change in 2024 through anti-trafficking training, community-based research, the strengthening of Colorado’s 24/7 Human Trafficking Hotline, and the development of future human rights leaders. Help advance human rights!