Do you know that odds are that someone you know or someone you regularly come in contact with may be in a trafficking situation. Human trafficking may be happening in your suburb, your community, or even your church. It is important for everyone to be aware of the red flags and indicators of human trafficking in order that we may help identify victims and get them the help they need. First, before I lay out some red flags, it is important to know what you should do if you think someone is being trafficked. The biggest piece of advice I have for you is to contact the national human trafficking resource center hotline at 1-888-373-7888. PLEASE PUT THIS NUMBER IN YOUR PHONE!!! If there is an instance where you may believe someone is in a trafficking situation, you want to be as prepared as possible. You do not want to be looking for this blog trying to find the number all over again. In addition to calling the national human trafficking resource center hotline, you can text HELP to: BeFree (233733). Both of these numbers are ran by an organization called Polaris. An example of a recent text conversation can be found below. This woman was able to get the help she needed.
In addition to calling the national human trafficking resource center, you should always call 911 in the case of an emergency. You can call the national human trafficking resource center to report a tip, connection with services in your area, request training, and gain resources, but always call 911 in the case of an emergency.
Back to identifying and assisting a trafficking victim. According to the state department, here are some human trafficking indicators:
Human Trafficking Indicators
While not an exhaustive list, these are some key red flags that could alert you to a potential trafficking situation that should be reported:
- Living with employer
- Poor living conditions
- Multiple people in cramped space
- Inability to speak to individual alone
- Answers appear to be scripted and rehearsed
- Employer is holding identity documents
- Signs of physical abuse
- Submissive or fearful
- Unpaid or paid very little
- Under 18 and in prostitution
Questions to Ask
Assuming you have the opportunity to speak with a potential victim privately and without jeopardizing the victim’s safety because the trafficker is watching, here are some sample questions to ask to follow up on the red flags you became alert to:
- Can you leave your job if you want to?
- Can you come and go as you please?
- Have you been hurt or threatened if you tried to leave?
- Has your family been threatened?
- Do you live with your employer?
- Where do you sleep and eat?
- Are you in debt to your employer?
- Do you have your passport/identification? Who has it?
It is important to not that it is unsafe to attempt to rescue a trafficking victim by yourself. You do not know how the trafficker may react and retaliate against the victim and you. Always contact the appropriate resources for help in trafficking situations.