Hi, everyone. It's Anne Duffy, and this is the Just Do It podcast. Dental Entrepreneur Woman the scene today with my dear guest, a good friend, and someone who's been with me from almost the beginning of Dental Entrepreneur Woman. She's written quite a few articles for us, and now she's got a new a new topic that's really and dear to her heart that we're going to talk about today.
Anne: I'm going to tell you a little bit about her before we get started. Candice Swarthout. Rdhlpc is a professional counselor and registered dental hygienist. She is a full time dental hygiene educator in Texas. Candace is the owner of Inspired Education and Wellness. A dental and medical CE company.
She combines her clinical dental and mental health experience to help other healthcare professionals understand the impact of trauma on patients. Candace is an approved provider in Texas for human trafficking training for healthcare professionals. Such an important training and I'm so honored to have you with me today.
Welcome Candace. How are you?
Kandice: you. I'm great and thank you so much for having me. It's so great to see you
Anne: Oh my gosh, we go so far back and, you've had just a great experience both inside the clinic, inside the schools and outside of that, just in your personal life, and I just appreciate your always being so honest, vulnerable and, willing to do what it takes to help people understand that they're not alone. that there's something that we can do about things that are right in front of us. your topic today and what we're talking about is human trafficking. So I'm curious. How did you become interested in human trafficking?
Kandice: coming up through my counseling grad school internship after I graduated. I had to do several hours of an internship. And 1 of my places that I spent a lot of time was in county jails. It was an incredible experience to be able to sit eye to eye with some people who had a lot of trauma in their lives.
And one of the things I recognized in the women was that, their crimes typically had to do something with a guy that they were with. And a lot of times that guy was on the other side of the jail and I was seeing him too. it was a really common theme that I saw and it could have to do with drugs, prostitution, and we weren't talking about trafficking at that time because this was probably 10 years ago.
so as I moved away from that and I started to learn about what is human trafficking, they just flashed back into my head and I thought, Oh my gosh. So many of them and their faces would come back to me and their stories would come back to me like she was trafficked she didn't know she was being trafficked.
I couldn't recognize it. Even as a counselor sitting knee to knee with her. I couldn't recognize it to be able to report it in the right way or get her the right help. so I started really digging into. What does that mean for us as healthcare professionals? Because a statistic that I learned was that 80 percent of survivors claim that they were taken to a healthcare professional while they were being trafficked.
Kandice: It's huge. And they weren't recognized. for a multitude of reasons. That, they didn't know how to look for it. Maybe there was a stigma around this person. They looked at her and they maybe recognized her as being a prostitute, a drug addict. And so they had stigmas around that.
And also what these survivors are saying is that they also felt really disrespected by the health care provider. And so we're missing it. And when I learned that statistic and I thought about all these women that I sat with and I'm like, I missed it with so many of them that we need the education on this.
so I was able to write for RDH magazine, of see a course on it. And then, as that was in peer review and starting to come out, Texas passed a law that said all health care professionals had to be trained in it. And there are some other states as well. But I'm in Texas and we all have to be trained and so it just took me down this path of I can't get enough of learning and I just feel like I'm a full time student of human trafficking and I'm learning something about it every single day.
Anne: I never thought about it like that, Candice. Thank you for sharing that because 10 years ago is not that long ago. And the fact that you had the experience as a counselor and I'm sure that I probably missed it too in my 46 years of clinical hygiene. Of course I did. it floors me.
You don't think you're going to see that because, what do you call the person that's trafficking? Is it your pimp? I mean, it's heinous, but what is the term, like, why would a trafficker bring in a captive person for treatment to begin with?
just because they wanted their teeth to be shiny or health? Was it, problems, pain, all the above?
Kandice: It's a great question. In fact, that's a really common question I get because when people find out that that's what I teach to healthcare professionals are like, who in the world is bringing a traffic person? Part of the myths that we see is that because there's a lot of sensationalized things out there on the Internet, one of the myths is that traffic people are locked up, that they're tied up, that they don't have any freedom at all.
But that's usually not the case. And so what we see most of the time. they're around us, they're working they're out, maybe frequenting some places that we'd go as well, but they're being controlled in some way. And we also see that the majority of people who are being trafficked are by family members.
Parents, aunts and uncles, I know, isn't that shocking and romantic partners. so it's very rarely that someone will get kidnapped to be trafficked. That does not happen often. It's almost always somebody they know in some way. And that could even be someone that they meet online and that they think they have a connection with this person.
They pose as a romantic partner. They pose as maybe a modeling agency, Something to really, they get their trust. That process is called grooming. So they groom them into trusting them, and then something shifts and they start forcing them, could be physical force, coercion, manipulation of any sorts to get them to do the acts that they want them to do for their own benefit.
So, shockingly, even look at the human trafficking hotline statistics, I think it was 2021. If you look at all the numbers, the two top calls that came in were people that were being trafficked by parents and by romantic partners.
Anne: Oh, my goodness. That's an eye opener. And that's just so sad because, young men and women, young boys and girls are so vulnerable and if they, are, given love whatever that shiny object is. They often don't have the, mental capacity or the brain development to realize, to run.
Kandice: they've been in the system. They come from a family that's on welfare. They already are a vulnerable population. And so they're looking for that connection. They're looking to belong somewhere. And you ask about pimps and the answer about that is oftentimes, yes.
So those romantic partners end up turning into their pimps and, in 25 minutes, I don't have time to go into all the details, but there's different types of pimps. We'll see. Romeo will see gorilla will see CEO They have different terms for them based on the relationship with the person that's being trafficked.
So a lot of times these women will say that it's their boyfriend, but what he actually is, is he is a pen
Anne: you're a parent? Oh my gosh. is educating me. And then also, hopefully people will listen to this and be more aware, even non healthcare providers, not even being in the chair, just being aware of this is possible and to have your antenna up. how can you tell? Like, okay, so I've, I'm thinking back on my days in hygiene and I'm sure that I have missed this before. And I'm sure that everyone's listening to us probably in their career. And actually, just in general, when we're out living our
Kandice: out and about. Yes. Yeah. Cause we probably have seen somebody out and about and you didn't realize it. I want to back up for just a second. Cause I'm realizing I didn't completely. Answer your last question. The reason that people come into health care is that it's usually to get them out of pain that broken bones.
There's lots of women's sexual problems. There's will probably see somebody for 2 things especially if they're being. labor or sex trafficked, that trafficker needs them to be able to be healthy enough to work. And sometimes it's even for cosmetic things because one of the places that we see the highest number of girls being sex trafficked is in escort services.
so those girls need to look good, They might have hair extensions and eyelashes and nails and a Fendi bag and all that stuff. So we may even see some of those ladies for whitening, for veneers. Just to get their teeth cleaned. So I wanted to touch on that. And then to your next question, the things that we're looking for the main things are that there is a pervasive person that will not leave them.
There's a controlling person with them. So this is someone who answers all the questions for them. They seem to be a control of the appointment. They seem to be in control of the money, the health history, all of that stuff, all of the decisions, and they don't want to leave. Okay. the patient. If the patient comes alone, they might seem overly attached to their phone.
There's this obvious anxiety that they don't want to let go of their phone because a lot of times that's the way the trafficker will keep tabs on them. And so they get a lot of anxiety about putting it down because they have to respond really quickly. Tattoos are very, very common. the tattoos that we would be looking for are crowns, money, dollar signs.
It's daddy daddy's girl property of and then someone's name or initials and money bags barcode. the crown is probably one of the most common ones
Anne: my gosh,
Kandice: they might appear over sexualized. We might recognize them as being a prostitute.
We might look at her and be like, Is she a prostitute? She's dressed very provocatively. We might recognize drug use, bruising, broken teeth. you know, Anne, when you're around someone that is being abused, you can tell sometimes, right? Especially when it's someone that's really traumatized.
We have those patients that display that severe dental fear. And then just putting all those pieces together because it's not always, because someone behaves a certain way. It's not always one thing. There could be a variety of reasons why someone's fearful when they come in our chair, but we're looking for the physical, clinical, behavioral, mental health signs.
Anne: It's interesting because I, remember not just in the clinic, but on an airplane one time when I was traveling and the girls and the guys that were with them, I look back on that and I remember thinking to myself, should I do something about that just didn't seem right. They seemed very young and vulnerable.
And these guys seem like big thugs. And, I don't know. It just, it didn't sit well with me. So then, health care, but also, what do you do when you suspect somebody is being trafficked?
Kandice: That's a great question. So one of the lifelines that you can use is the National Human Trafficking Hotline. That's a great place to go. They have a website It's run by the Polaris Project and their website is the polarisproject. org. And even if you just Google, Going global. Human trafficking hotline.
It'll pop up. They have a phone number. They have a website. So if you suspect something, you can call them and you can report it there. You can also report it to the blue campaign. So if you Google that, you will find their number. That is a way to report it to federal law enforcement. So it's Homeland Security.
I've actually reported to Homeland Security from something that I saw at a restaurant that's down the street from my house. I won't go into details because it was something that I reported and I'm hoping that they're investigating it. so those are different places. You can go straight to local law enforcement.
There's a couple of caveats to that. So if I'm in my dental office and have someone that I think is being trafficked and I call the police, I may just create a whole new issue for them. They might have. Issues with law enforcement, right? They might be fearful of going to jail for what they're participating in.
If that trafficker is with them, they might get the beating of their life when they leave there. So we have to be really careful when we make that decision to call law enforcement. If it's a child, absolutely. If it's someone under the age of 18, and we believe that they're being trafficked, we need to engage law enforcement.
The other thing is If you're going to call law enforcement, it's important to let them know why, and use the words trafficking, so they can send the right people, so that they specifically know what they're walking into.
Anne: This is really great advice. We're going to have some of this in the show notes as well. And is there anything else that you want to say on this podcast? definitely want them to be able to get in touch with you, because kudos to Texas.
Anne: I learned something I think I know a lot, and I did love your article in RDH Magazine, but you have to hear it a couple of times before you actually are putting it into your routine and keeping it your eyeballs glued, be aware of what's going on.
Is there anything else that you'd like to say before we give your, contact information? To everybody, Candace, because you are on the speaking circuit. This needs to get out there and who better to share that information with someone that's looked at it and seen it and studied it.
Kandice: yes, I do want to say that some of the things I'm hearing from other professionals are that this feels like a checkmark to them, and there are people who have said to me that they're annoyed that they have to take this every 2 years and they'll say, well, I'm just going to get online. I'm going to take 1 of those free ones.
And I'm going to read the slides and take the test. I even had a dentist tell me he had his assistant do it for him. And it, like, it crushes me because. when you hear somebody, whether it's me or whoever else, there's other people out there speaking about this. Take a class that's live that is someone presenting it so you can hear all of the details.
Because what I have experienced is that after someone sits in my class, they'll come up to me and say, Man, I've taken that one, you know, where I just read the slides twice and I didn't get any of this information from it. It just went, in one ear and out the other, but they start to realize the importance of it.
And the fact that we have to take it every two years is important because you're not going to remember everything. And 10 years from now, if you took my class today or somebody else's class today, you're not going to remember it. And so we need that reinforcement and to remind ourselves of what to do.
So what I guess my wish is, and you know, of course, I want everybody to be as passionate about this as I am, and I know that they're not going to be, but my wish is that I can just get people's attention enough to get serious about the topic I want them to go back to their office and sit in a meeting and say, Oh, my gosh, we had no idea that this is how it happens.
And this is what's happening. And now what are we going to do about it in this office in these walls? If this person walks in? To our office, how are we going to respond to them I want to get that kind of passion going with other health care professionals so that they will have their eyes open and that if we save one person, one person, it's totally worth it.
I get to work with survivors and to be able to be with them and hear their stories and see where they are now is incredible. But what if you could be the catalyst to 1 of those people? It would change their lives.
Anne: there is something about digging a little deeper than just checking the box,
Candace. you have the stories and the stories are the ones that are going to tug at our hearts and keep our eyes open We're in that situation to be able to help somebody so This is a tough topic to take on I know you well that I know that you're a great person to take this topic on and really share it with The world so thank you for being here. How do we get in touch with you if we want you to speak at our next event? Or we want you to write an article for us.
And of course, you're always welcome to write for Dental Entrepreneur and Dental Entrepreneur Woman.
Kandice: you can email me at Candice. It's K A N D I C E and it's at inspirededucationce. com and then also my website is just my first and last name. So super easy. CandiceSworthout. com. So you can get a hold of me there as well.
Anne: Oh, my God. And that'll be in show notes. So impressed with you. Knowing you and just seeing where you're going and how you're going to change the world, you know, one beautiful soul at a time that's really what it is and really an important message for all of us.
So thank you so much for joining me today come back again share some more as let's share some wins that we've gotten And I look forward to that most importantly for all of you that are listening to us keep doing you Thanks everybody. Thanks candace
Kandice: Thank you.
Anne: See you next time.