The Signs of Human Trafficking and Exploitation

Spring break was fun; it was filled with memories of laughter and we were free from the responsibilities of school. However, not many people get to experience this sense of freedom. Human trafficking has always existed, recently though, I have noticed an increase of cases regarding missing people⎼ especially women and kids. Some reports are getting closer to home and it is concerning considering that I live in an area where many college students live.


According to Human Rights First, 24.9 million people are victims trapped in modern-day slavery. These victims are exploited for labor, whether it be sexually or, and state-imposed forced labor.

The non-profit organization Polaris has a page dedicated to sharing some of the most common sign to look for in someone who is being exploited or trafficked. I wanted to share some in order to bring light to some signs and the topic as a whole.



Common Work and Living Conditions


(Photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash)


For many living through this, their work and living conditions are often red flags. For example, in the home, individuals may not be able to leave without permission. In the workplace, victims may be unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips. Furthermore, these people work excessive and unusual hours with no breaks and are made to meet daily quotas. They also face physical and verbal abuse by their supervisors or managers, who do not provide safety equipment for them. The work location may have many high-security measures in place such as opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on the windows. Also included are physical and verbal abuse


Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior


(Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash)


Another indication that someone is a victim of trafficking includes is their mental health. They may not only struggle with anxiety and depression but also, act out abnormally.  For instance, they might be tense, paranoid, or fearful around law enforcement or immigration officials.Victims also show signs of substance use or addiction.


Lack of Control


(Photo by Zach Guinta on Unsplash)


Signs of a victim having a lack of control include having few or no personal possessions, being frequently monitored, not being in control of their money, financial records, or bank account. They are also not in control of their own identification documents, such as their ID or passport. Additionally, they are not allowed or able to speak for themselves, they usually have a third party insisting on being present or translating.


Poor Physical Health and Other Signs

(Photo by Jairo Alzate on Unsplash)


Poor physical health is an indicator of trafficking and includes poor hygiene, malnourishment, or fatigue. Look for signs that also involve sexual abuse and physical abuse, such as confinement or torture. Additionally, an inability to provide an address of where they are staying. Victims lack knowledge of their whereabouts and do not know which city they are in. They appear to have lost a sense of time and share scripted, confusing, or inconsistent stories. Furthermore, they also protect the person who is abusing them and tend to minimize the abuse they are enduring.


Final Thoughts

Human trafficking is a heavy topic to discuss, but it is extremely important to shed light on this topic and the red flags presented by the victims. More and more men, women, and children are being exploited on a daily basis for money and it is unjust and inhumane. It is also important to help others who we may suspect are victims, and just as important is our own safety! As college students, we are a major group that traffickers target, so we must always be on alert. If you or anyone you know is a victim or survivor of human trafficking and in need of assistance please reach out to anyone you trust for help. The number for National Human Trafficking Hotline is 1-888-373-7888 or you can text BeFree (233733).