While many people may not realize it, slavery still exists today in the form of human trafficking. Human traffickers prey on the vulnerable and disadvantaged and often gain trust through promises of love, acceptance and a better life. Instead, victims are forced to perform labor or sexual acts against their will, often in deplorable conditions. In many cases, victims are trapped either psychologically, physically or don’t have the resources to leave (such as not having identification or being able to speak the language).
“…Human trafficking still exists today throughout the United States and globally when traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to control other people for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex or forcing them to provide labor services against their will. Traffickers use violence, threats, deception, debt bondage, and other manipulative tactics to trap victims in horrific situations every day in America. All trafficking victims share one essential experience – the loss of freedom.” Source: The Polaris Project
While human trafficking victims come from all walks of life, those that are the most vulnerable are:
- The homeless
- Adolescents who have run away from home
- Victims of domestic and sexual abuse
- Emotionally, socially or physically vulnerable individuals
- Individuals exposed to wartime living conditions
Human trafficking is a global concern and is estimated to be a $150 billion dollar industry with 20.9 million victims around the world.
Signs vary depending on the circumstances but the following are some indicators a person is being exploited.
An individual who…
- Isn’t able to come and go with freedom
- Is unpaid or paid very little, work excessive hours, is not allowed to take work breaks
- Displays anxious fearful disposition, avoids making eye contact
- Works in an environment where extreme security measures are evident such as bars on windows, barbed wire
- Doesn’t have control over own finances, isn’t allowed to speak for self, has few personal belongings
- Shows physical signs of abuse, restraint, torture or mistreatment such as bruises, burns and other markings
- Is evasive or inconsistent about living circumstances and personal facts
How Can You Help or get Help?
- Know how to Recognize the Signs of human trafficking.
- If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking:
- Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1 (888) 373-7888
- Send a text to BeFree (233733)
- Visit traffickingresourcecenter.org