10 Human Trafficking Signs and What You Can Do to Help

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The most important thing for anyone is to learn how to identify the human trafficking signs in everyday situations and interactions. In this article, we will detail how to identify human trafficking victims by various signs of abuse, both physical signs and behavioral patterns.

Human trafficking is one of the cruelest activities, which destroys lives and allows perpetrators to accumulate wealth at the expense of other people's suffering. Despite many myths that you may have heard, this form of modern slavery does not refer only to sex trafficking. An estimate indicates that over 20.9 million people across the globe are victims of trafficking, and 68% of them are subject to forced labor, according to various anti-trafficking organizations, including the US Office on Trafficking of Persons.

At Babin Law, we advocate for the fight against trafficking by helping victims find justice and freedom. If you know anyone subject to any of the types of trafficking we will detail below, put them in contact with one of our experienced human trafficking attorneys and help them escape the human trafficking situation by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline or the Modern Slavery Hotline to report the situation.

Understand What Human Trafficking Means

Let us start by giving a quick definition of the term human trafficking. According to the United Nations, human trafficking is the act of recruiting, transporting, harboring, and receiving persons for the purpose of exploiting them. The victim of trafficking is controlled by threat or use of force, coercion, deception, abuse of power, or position of vulnerability.

Human trafficking involves physical abuse, sexual abuse, and psychological abuse. Anyone may fall victim - from child trafficking to trafficking of women and men for sex slavery or forced labor. Perpetrators know no limits and no human compassion.

Even in the state of Ohio, anyone can find themselves in a potential trafficking situation. According to statistical data collected by World Population Review, in 2022 there were 450 human trafficking cases identified in Ohio, representing a rate of 3.84 per 100,000 people.

The 10 Human Trafficking Signs You Need to Look for

Child labor and forced labor, as well as sex trades, are crimes hiding in plain sight. We can encounter victims of trafficking anywhere: on construction sites, in massage parlors, in strip clubs, on the street, and on farms. Victims, who are sometimes prevented from communication by language barriers and always by their captors, are walking among us. But we can learn to spot human trafficking signs and do something to change their terrible situation.

These common human trafficking signs are:

1. Signs of Physical Abuse

Human trafficking victims may have cuts, bruises, and contusions on their bodies. They usually try to mask them with clothing or makeup. Physical abuse occurs in all forms of trafficking, including child sex trafficking. The victim is kept in a state of fear both by the threat and use of physical force.

2. The Person Appears Malnourished

Medical professionals and persons who visit massage parlors have the greatest opportunity to notice signs of poor and scarce diet. The victims are very thin and pale, and have cold extremities (hands and feet). Human trafficking prevention should be anyone's business, but the unfortunate truth is that some prefer to look the other way for fear of becoming a part of the investigation. However, anyone can call the 24-hour National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 and make an anonymous report of trafficking in massage parlors or strip clubs.

3. The Person Avoids Social Interactions

The trafficking of victims has a strong negative impact on their mental health. They are usually withdrawn, avoid social interactions and refrain from eye contact. They will also avoid various figures of authority, from law enforcement officers to anyone in a uniform (including firefighters or the military).

4. The Person's Speech Appears Scripted

The conversation of sex trafficking victims can appear unnatural. They always seem to give rehearsed answers. When pressed further for explanations, they will try to escape the situation or change the topic of conversation.

5. The Person Has Few Personal Possessions

One of the key indicators of human trafficking in Ohio is the fact that the person always appears to wear the same clothes and does not carry a purse or a bag with them or any other usual personal belongings (cell phone, watch, etc.). While it may be a sign of extreme poverty, it is always better to err on the safe side and give a person the chance of freedom and a violence-free future.

6. The Person Is Always Accompanied by Someone

Human trafficking victims are rarely allowed to go out on the street on their own. Even if they are sent to do shopping for the persons who use them for forced labor, someone always accompanies them to prevent them from seeking help or running away.

7. A Child Using Adult Language

A child exploited for sex can be identified both from the body language and from the way they speak. These criminal activities expose children to activities and words which should not come naturally to them. If you feel that a child has any inappropriate knowledge of sexual activities, do not look away - try to help them.

8. The Person Is Dropped Off and Collected for Work at Unusual Times

Whether we are talking about sexual exploitation or forced labor, human traffickers will drop off or collect the victim at the same place and at unusual times - either very early in the morning or very late at night.

9. A Child Checking In a Hotel with an Older Male

Child sex trafficking can happen in any motel by the side of the road. It is always the same scenario: a child or teenager accompanied by an older male whom they call "uncle," "daddy," or some other similar term. They also are not making eye contact or conversation with the receptionist. All these are huge warning signs of slavery for sexual exploitation.

10. People Living at the Workplace

Finally, a human trafficking victim is frequently kept at the place where they are forced to work, in unsuitable and unsanitary conditions. If you notice that a person never appears to leave their workplace, this is one of the biggest human trafficking signs.

What to Do If You Suspect a Human Trafficking Case

If you have seen human trafficking signs and you believe that someone is being held against their will and exploited, you should:

  • Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center's hotline at 1-888-373-7888 to report the case
  • Contact the local police
  • When the person is safely removed from the traffickers' control, help them get in touch with a human trafficking attorney at Babin Law: 833-SURVIVORS.
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