September 10, 2018
Washington associate Betsy Hutson led a McGuireWoods team that secured an unprecedented $8 million civil judgment in May for human trafficking survivor Kendra Ross in her lawsuit against a nationwide cult and its leader. She wrote articles about the case for the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch and Trafficking Matters, a project of The Human Trafficking Institute.
In the WSJ opinion piece, she debunked five myths about human trafficking: (1) that human trafficking equals 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.”
In the Trafficking Matters article, Hutson explained the personal process of establishing trust with Ross and the challenges of representing a trauma survivor in litigation. She emphasized 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.”