What You Can Do
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 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 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 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 identity 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 because the trafficker is watching, 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 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
If you feel you have identified someone who is still a victim of human trafficking, call police authorities right once at the numbers listed below. 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. Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which is listed below.
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. https://www.state.gov/identify-and-assist-a-trafficking-victim/