It is essential to remember that vulnerability to human trafficking is far-reaching, spanning multiple different areas such as age, socio-economic status, nationality, education-level, or gender. Traffickers often prey on people who are hoping for a better life, lack employment opportunities, have an unstable home life, or have a history of sexual abuse – conditions that are present in all spheres of society.
Human trafficking victims have been identified in cities, suburbs, and rural areas in all 50 states and in Washington, D.C. They are forced to work or provide commercial sex against their will in legal and legitimate business settings as well as underground markets. Some victims are hidden behind locked doors in brothels and factories. In other cases, victims are in plain view and may interact with community members, but the widespread lack of awareness and understanding of trafficking leads to low levels of victim identification by the people who most often encounter them. For example, women and girls in sex trafficking situations, especially U.S. citizens, are often misidentified as “willing” participants in the sex trade who make a free choice each day to be there.Recognizing the Signs!!
Pimps use violence and coercion to commercially sexually exploit young women and girls. Are you or someone you know being trafficked? Is human trafficking happening in your community? Is the situation you may The following is a list of potential red flags and indicators of human trafficking to help you recognize the signs.
Common Work and Living Conditions: The Individual(s) in Question
Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
Is under 18 and is providing commercial sex acts
Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp / manager
Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)
Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior
Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid
Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
Avoids eye contact
Poor Physical Health
Lacks health care
Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
Lack of Control
Has few or no personal possessions
Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account
Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)
Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address
Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in
Loss of sense of time
Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story
From survivor Selina D.
Please take the time to read this powerful story!
She continued to sell me until I got old enough to run away. I was 14 two short years after escaping my abusive mother, who was an addict and alcoholic. I found myself on the streets of Hollywood trying to make it as a musician. I sang for my supper literally and though it was hard I was free.
A man would often come to hear me sing he would request amazing grace every time I’d oblige. He would talk to me sometimes of God and charity and of street kids like me. He seemed kind. One day he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, to meet a music producer friend of his. After all, I had a beautiful voice that the world should hear. “A gift that should be used,” as he put it.
We met the next day as planned. I got in the car, and we were on our way. We drove a little outside Hollywood and chatted about music, where I was from, and his two kids. To be honest the next part is a bit hazy but from what I remember he stuck me with a needle.
I awoke to the smell of hay and animals. My eyes could hardly open. I felt so strange and weak. I was gagged and chained to a barn stall.
For the next year and a half, I was traded at parties and made to work day and night. I was beaten, raped, sodomized, and tortured. Sometimes not fed for days, made to be in my own filth – those were punishments if you failed to keep working. I was a slave again!
What the people that took me didn’t realize or bargain for is that I had faced evil before. I was strong, stronger than they thought. Stronger than my mother thought, even though I felt dead inside and at times wanted to die.
I held on. I told myself over and over again, “you can get through this!” I held on to hope because I had escaped hell before.
One day at a restaurant I told “him” I had to use the bathroom. He let me go as, I had gone many times before. So compliant I am.
We were at a truck stop. I went into the restroom and stared at the window for a little bit thinking of what I would do once I got out of the window.
I pulled myself up and pulled myself out. I stayed close to side of the building with my heart racing. I spotted a truck and it crawled in the back.
I remember trembling I was so scared – what if they they caught me? where was I going? what was I going to do? I didn’t care All I knew is I was free.
I am 41 now. I live a beautiful simple and blessed life with two beautiful daughters and my best friend who is my husband.
It is a life that I never thought I’d see. It as a life that I feel so grateful to have.
This is just a piece of my story. I have told no one except my husband until writing this.
I am telling my story now to heal and to help others heal and also to raise more awareness to this modern-day slavery. There are so many suffering and being held against their will, all over the world; and it seems we need to do more about it. People need to know. My hope is that someday all women and children everywhere will be free from these horrible acts on humanity.
“do not weep for me I am free”
Pimps commonly sell minor girls for an average of $400.00/hr. on America’s streets. One report shows that minors were sold an average of 10-15 times a day (each with approximately 3 sex acts per sale), 6 days a week, totaling between 9,360 – 14,040 sex acts/rapes each year. A trafficker/pimp could potentially collect $4,000 – $6,000 per night per prostituted child, $1,248,000 – $1,872,000 with this type of requirement.
Another report showed that minors were sold an average of 30-40 times a day (each with approximately 3 sex acts per sale), 7 days a week, totaling between 32,760 – 43,680 sex acts each year. A trafficker/pimp could potentially collect $4,380,000 – $5,824,000 per victim, per year with this type of requirement. In both studies, the girls typically keep none of the money.