Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #24
Preventing and Identifying Human Trafficking Among Individuals With Disabilities
Saturday, May 28, 2022
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Meeting Level 2; Room 256
Area: PRA; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Susan Wilczynski (Ball State University)
CE Instructor: Susan Wilczynski, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: LAURA CUSACK (Coalition for Independent Living Options, Inc.)

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are at increased risk for abuse, violence, and human trafficking. According to the Trafficking Victim Protection Act (TVPA), trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion for commercial sex, or if the individual is under 18 years. Labor trafficking includes involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. Individuals with disabilities may be targeted as they may be more isolated, be more easily manipulated and groomed or not be able to communicate what is occurring. Sometimes there are signs of abuse such as an increase in certain behaviors, difficulty at school, home or therapy and new behaviors not present prior. Considering that some children with disabilities are nonverbal they may not be able to communicate any abuse that may be occurring. It is vital to teach healthy and unhealthy relationships, appropriate and inappropriate touch, how to communicate an occurrence and who they should confide in. More research should be conducted with individuals with disabilities for identification, screening, and prevention. All clinics should include mandatory training for human trafficking and abuse prevention and identification. Collaboration with therapists and families is vital to increase training and reporting to reduce the rates of human trafficking in this population.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

BCBAs, RBTs, anyone developing treatment plans and/or working with youth or those who may be at risk for abuse

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) explain human trafficking; (2) outline risk factors for human trafficking among clients with disabilities; (3) identify barriers to reporting faced by clients; (4) connect at-risk individuals to national resources.
LAURA CUSACK (Coalition for Independent Living Options, Inc.)
Laura Cusack is a Senior Crime Victim Practitioner at the Coalition for Independent Living Options, Inc. and serves as the President for the Human Trafficking Coalition of the Palm Beaches. She currently participates on Palm Beach County’s Sexual Assault Response Team’s Community Action Network and Training Committee. She also serves on the People with Disabilities Community Consultant Panel, as well as is a member of the National Human Trafficking and Disabilities Working Group. Laura’s experience includes providing training to service providers on specific needs of crime victims with disabilities according to the Rehab Act, ADA, and fair housing act, as well as providing training on human trafficking and crimes against children; facilitating psychoeducational groups for high-risk youth with trauma-related disabilities; and leading community outreach efforts. Laura launched the Hope Campaign in Florida, a community outreach in Palm Beach County that works with local hotels to identify missing children and increase public access to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. She has also conducted street outreach with law enforcement to women in street-based prostitution to promote safety and wellness, and has instructed a criminal diversion curriculum to men arrested for buying sex. Laura is a member of the Palm Beach County Human Trafficking Task Force, and regularly attends the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking meetings. Laura earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW) from Florida Atlantic University and is certified in the My Life My Choice, iEmpathize Empower Youth Program, and Men Breaking Free national curriculum.



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