Know the Signs

Everyone thinks trafficking won’t impact their lives. They believe no one they know can be or will be trafficked. Would you know if someone in your life had fallen victim to one of these crimes? What about someone you meet in passing? Here are some red flags.

  • He/she seems anxious, fearful, paranoid, or consistently avoids eye contact.
  • He/she is tearful or displays signs of depression.
  • He/she often has unexplained bruises, cuts, or other signs of physical abuse.
  • He/she appears to be in a relationship with someone who is dominating.
  • He/she is never alone and/or always has someone translating or answering questions of his/her behalf.
  • He/she is not in control of his/her own finances.
  • He/she presents with secrecy or is unable to answer questions about where he/she lives.
  • He/she provides inconsistent details when telling his/her story.
  • He/she has no identification such as a license, passport, or other ID documents.
  • He/she is unable to leave their job or residence, or cannot schedule appointments.
  • He/she is a recent arrival to the United States and does not speak English.
  • He/she is under 18 years of age and is providing commercial sex acts or is unwillingly providing commercial sex acts at any age.
  • He/she is afraid of law enforcement or receiving help from an outside entity.

If you suspect trafficking crime, try to find an opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with the potential victim. Ask him or her to following screening questions.

  • Can you leave your job or house when you want?
  • Where did you get those bruises? Is someone hurting you?
  • Do you get paid for your employment? Is it fair? How many hours do you work?
  • Are you or your family being threatened?
  • Do you live with or near your employer? Does your employer provide you housing? Are there locks on doors or windows from the outside?
  • Do you owe a debt to anyone?
  • [If foreign national]: How did you get to the United States? Is it what you expected? Are you being forced to do anything you don’t want to be doing?

If you suspect they are a victim of human trafficking, take the following actions.

  • Ask the person if you can help them find a safe place to go immediately.
  • If they need time, create an action plan with them to get to a safe place when they are ready.
  • Call and make a report to the human trafficking hotline at 1-888-373-7888. The hotline has language capabilities, so any individual can call directly.

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