Human trafficking, both sex trafficking and labor trafficking, continues to destroy lives every day.

But there’s hope. Besides a wide range of amazing organizations who are fighting it and spreading awareness (more on them in another post), there are common sense, practical things everyone can do to help combat trafficking in your local area. A key step is to know what to look for in your community.

This article from Human Trafficking Hotline provides a quick but effective list on how to spot potential trafficking situations. From their article:

Are you or someone you know being trafficked? Is human trafficking happening in your community? Recognizing potential red flags and knowing the indicators of human trafficking is a key step in identifying more victims and helping them find the assistance they need. Bear in mind that not all indicators will be present in all situations. The type of trafficking and the content or environment are all important to take into account.

The article continues with several categories of red flags that may indicate a trafficking situation. Here are a few of the key ones:

Common Work and Living Conditions: The individual(s) in question

  • Is not free to leave or come and go at will
  • 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.)
  • Is living and working on site
  • Experiences verbal or physical abuse by their supervisor
  • Is not given proper safety equipment
  • Is not paid directly
  • Is forced to meet daily quotas

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 or immigration officials

  • Shows signs of substance use or addiction

See the article link above for a complete list (though they’re careful to note that even their article is not a comprehensive list.

For an in-depth look into the issue of human trafficking, view this superb report created by the Polaris Project.