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The federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act defines the crime of human trafficking as:

  • The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act where such an act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age, or
  • The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Below are some warning signs to identify traffickers and victims. Please note, if three or more of the following apply to the relationship, this should be seen as a red flag and cause you to look a little further into the situation. The face of pimps, traffickers or victims in the realm of human trafficking doesn’t discriminate against race, ethnicity, religion, class nor creed. In addition, although “he” is used in the indicators below, females can also be traffickers/pimps.

Identifying Pimps/Traffickers:

  • Fancy Car, Clothes, jewelry
  • Frequently spends nights away or out of town
  • Act out the hip hop culture
  • No actual job that one could visit i.e. he claims to have a record label or his own magazine company, owns bill boards, restaurants, etc.
  • He has dreams of making it big and being successful. He will encourage her to become part of HIS dreams.
  • Her dreams and goals for life will be put on hold for his.
  • He pulls her into it: everything becomes “we” in her conversation.
  • Secludes her from family and friends by moving away.
  • Attempting to fast track the relationship (moving and talking of marriage within a short time frame should be a cause of concern)
  • Carries multiple cell phones
  • Treat their children differently from the victim

Identifying Victims:

  • Tired during the day from working at night
  • Suddenly has expensive things
  • Increasingly interest in or talks a lot about his dream, “we’re going to….
  • Older boyfriend, usually one not in school
  • Morals and values have slowly expanded
  • New tattoo or brand of initials, his name or a saying
  • Keeps eyes down in public
  • Starts or become secluded: you see her less and less
  • Work long hours for little or no pay
  • Live on our near worksite under inhuman living conditions
  • Not in control of travel documents
  • Fear of deportation
  • Forced to pay off large debt
  • Injuries from beatings or weapons
  • Unable to move about freely
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Unable to speak for themselves (someone else is always speaking)
  • Exudes fearful behavior of the person they are with or law enforcement
  • Is in the commercial sex industry
  • Chronic Runaway

Click here for a more comprehensive list on general indicators.