If you take a look around your local community, we can almost guarantee you’ll see someone who’s a victim of trafficking. Sometimes it’s obvious, but more times than not, trafficking victims seamlessly blend into society.
While immigrants, refugees & poverty stricken communities are typically at a higher risk, victims can also come from established neighborhoods & mid-to-upper class families.
When it comes to gender, 55% of slaves are female & 45% are male.1 But the most difficult reality to comprehend is that the average trafficking victim is 12 years old & 26% of slaves are considered children (under 18).2
So how in the world are you supposed to know who or what to look for?! We’re going to be totally honest here & tell you that it’s really hard to identify trafficking victims because trafficking doesn’t discriminate.
If you suspect that someone you know or encounter is being trafficked, the best thing to do is look for one of these signs: 3-4
- Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
- Is the person disoriented, confused or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
- Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?
- Is the person fearful, timid or submissive?
- Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep or medical care?
- Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Is there someone who always seems to be in control of the situation?
- Are they afraid to discuss themselves around others?
- Does their communication seem scripted or inconsistent?
- Are they working excessively long and/or unusual hours?
- Do they hesitate to talk about the conditions of their work environment or key relationships?
- Do high security measures exist at their work place or their residence (ex. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)?
- Are they in control of their own identification documents (ID or passport)?
If you see any of these red flags, you can contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) or the Department of Homeland Security (1-866-347-2423) & leave them a tip. If there’s immediate danger, call 911.
All of this just goes to show that trafficking can happen to anyone, but when people are educated on the issue & know the signs, lives can be saved!
1-2 – Free The Slaves (www.freetheslaves.net)
3 – Department of Homeland Security (www.dhs.gov)
4 – National Human Trafficking Hotline (www.humantraffickinghotline.org)