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For Signs of Human Trafficking, Look Beneath the Surface

  • Is the person accompanied by a controlling person or boss?
  • Does the person speak on his or her own behalf?
  • Does the person lack control over personal schedule, money, ID, travel documents?
  • Is the person transported to or from work?
  • Does the person live and work in the same place?
  • Does the person owe a debt to employer/crew leader?
  • Is the person unable to leave his or her job?
  • Does the person seem afraid, depressed or overly submissive?
  • Does the person have bruises or other signs of physical abuse?

The public needs to be aware of the signs of human trafficking and how to report suspected cases. Adults should be as familiar with the signs of human trafficking as they are the signs of child abuse, drug addiction, or domestic violence.

Most trafficking victims fit a very similar profile. Most of them have been forced into prostitution. Most of them have been raped and physically assaulted numerous times. Victims generally will not maintain eye contact. Most of them appeared to be very depressed, for obvious reasons. All of them showed signs of post traumatic stress disorder.

The female victims in bars usually sit gathered around other victims. They appear to be somewhat separated from the crowd, including the legitimate employees. They will all be dressed in similar inexpensive clothing. This clothing is commonly revealing, and the victims will appear uncomfortable wearing revealing clothing.

The victims generally have no idea of where they are, not even what city they are in. They have no financial assets. Many of them live in an apartment that was rented by the traffickers, or their owner. They share this apartment with many other victims.

The victims will not usually speak to anyone other than a "client" due to the fear of repercussions from the trafficker. They will usually only be seen in a bar or other place they are working in. They are usually not allowed out in the public. There are generally one or more people who are in charge of the victims when they are in the bar and at the location where they are being housed.

Report Human Trafficking

Toll-free | 24-hours, 7 days a week | Confidential | Interpretation Available
National Human Trafficking Resource Center
Call specialists will help to connect victims to local services and resources.

To contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

Website: external link

To contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center directly:

Website: external link

Most victims do not self-identify as victims or are not aware that help is available. By taking action and calling, you may be the only one that can provide crucial information about a trafficking case.

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center is operated by Polaris Project, a non-governmental organization. They are not a government entity, law enforcement or immigration.