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Everyone has the capacity to come across a case of human trafficking. While the victims are occasionally kept behind barred doors, they are frequently hidden right in front of our eyes. Some highly targeted areas are at construction sites, restaurants, senior care facilities, nail salons, agricultural areas, and hotels, to name a few places. Even if you reach out to victims, they may be too afraid to accept your help due to the traffickers' use of coercion, such as threats of deportation and violence to the victim or their family members. Knowing the signs of human trafficking and asking some follow-up questions will help you act on your instincts and report it.

While not complete, the following are some important red flag indicators that should prompt you to report a possible human trafficking situation:

Human Trafficking Red Flags

  • 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 identification and documents

  • Signs of physical abuse

  • Submissive or fearful

  • Unpaid or paid very little

  • Under 18 and in prostitution

If you have the chance to speak privately with a possible victim without endangering the victim's safety, here are some example questions to ask to follow up on the red flags you noticed:

Questions to Ask

  • 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've 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?

Where to Get Help

Please be advised attempting to rescue a trafficking victim might be dangerous. You have no idea how the trafficker will respond or retaliate against both the victim and you. If you find a victim who has left a trafficking scenario, there are a number of organizations to whom you may send them for aid with housing, medical treatment, legal support, and other essential services. If you feel you have identified someone who is still a victim of human trafficking, call authorities. Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which is listed below.

  1. 911 Emergency

  2. 1-888-373-7888 National Human Trafficking Hotline

U.S. Department of State. (2017). Identify and Assist a Trafficking Victim - United States Department of State. United States Department of State.

What You Can Do: Text
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