It’s Not Knowing the Signs – It’s Knowing the Story
Chances are there’s going to be nothing visible, nothing that you can see from across the room, or even from up close, that should alert you that a stranger is being trafficked. That may come as a surprise – especially if you have been to a training where you have been taught the ‘signs’ or indicators of trafficking, such as a person looking disheveled, upset or scared. But as we learn more about how trafficking really works, we are also learning that the best way to help is to pay attention to people you actually know or interact with – your students, your tenants, your children, your patients, your co-workers. It is all about two magic words: Context and proximity.
Who is most vulnerable? “It can happen to anyone,” and “it’s happening in your backyard,” are common in the anti human trafficking field. But it’s more complicated than that. Learn more about vulnerabilities and how traffickers lure people in.
Keeping victims isolated – sometimes physically, sometimes emotionally – is a key method of control in most labor trafficking situations.
Anyone selling sex who is under 18 is legally a trafficking victim. There are a number of racial myths and stereotypes associated with sex trafficking.
Sex traffickers carefully and methodically work to gain their victims’ trust, create a degree of dependence, and subtly promote the idea that selling sexual services is normal, acceptable and necessary. Ultimately, successful grooming results in vulnerable people cooperating in their own exploitation and abuse and believing they have made the choice to do so independently.
What Are You Seeing?
Context is key to being able to help understand if what you are seeing is sex or labor trafficking – or something else entirely. People who work in certain industries, for example, may be more likely to spot signs of trafficking that are specific to the way that industry operates. Below are resources specific to either the type of trafficking or to how trafficking situations may intersect with certain kinds of systems and industries. The U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline does not report to law enforcement in situations involving adults without permission from the person contacting the Trafficking Hotline.