What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, slavery or forced commercial sex acts.

The U.S. State Department estimates that currently 27 million people live in slavery as a condition of human trafficking, and that human trafficking generates $150 billion every year.

S.T.E.P: The Survivors of Trafficking Empowerment Program

The Survivors of Trafficking Empowerment Program (STEP) is designed to help survivors of trafficking throughout their transition to stable, independent lives. 

Because the Department of Justice designates a single organization to provide STEP services in each jurisdiction, RST Austin currently is the only RST office to host STEP, serving individuals in Bell, Hays, McLennan, Travis and Williamson Counties.  STEP serves all survivors of human trafficking, regardless of race, color, national or ethnic origin, age, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran status. 

What We Do

When a survivor is referred to or seeks to work with STEP, the team will assess their basic needs. Once immediate safety and basic needs have been addressed, the STEP team works with survivors through a holistic approach to support their journey to self-sufficiency and recovery. 

The following services are provided, among others:


  • Human trafficking screenings
  • Crisis management and safety support
  • Basic needs assistance
  • Employment assistance
  • Counseling services
  • Applications for public benefits
  • Community outreach and trainings


Refugee Services of Texas chairs the Central Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking, which brings together local government, non-profit and law enforcement professionals at all levels on a systematic basis to identify survivors, provide comprehensive services, and prevent trafficking through various means. Our services are available to both domestic and foreign-born adults and children of human trafficking. Our partners include:



If you or someone you know has been a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at: 888.373.7888.