Warning Signs that someone may be a victim of Human Trafficking:

  • Being controlled by others, driven to and from locations, and escorted at all times
  • Being controlled and watched by others, having someone speak for them in public
  • Not having a passport or other forms of I.D. in their possession
  • Not having control of their own money or cellphone, may have more than one cellphone in their possession
  • Passport and ID documents confiscated by others
  • Not being familiar with the neighborhood they live or work in
  • Being moved frequently; claim to be “new” or “just visiting”
  • Not being allowed to contact family or friends
  • Lying about age/false ID
  • Providing scripted or rehearsed answers to casual questions
  • May be in possession of excess cash outside their financial means and have hotel keys

Mental Health or Signs of Abnormal Behavior:

  • Act in a fearful, anxious, submissive or nervous manner, excessive concern about displeasing partner/employer
  • Fearful of law enforcement or immigration services
  • Avoids eye contact, has another person speak for them
  • May have visible signs of substance dependency
  • Expressing fear and intimidation through facial expressions or body language
  • Use slang terminology that is popular within the sex industry subculture (daddy/pimp/ bottom, etc.)

Physical Appearance:

  • May be dressed in age inappropriate clothing
  • May be dressed in clothing inappropriate for the time of year or context
  • May suddenly have expensive clothing, purses, shoes, nail services
  • Branding with tattoos of the trafficker’s name or symbol
  • May have bruises or other signs of physical abuse including malnourished
  • Lacking in basic medical services or is being denied services by employer
  • May show signs of being physically restrained, confinement or torture

Victims may:

  • Not know they are being victimized because they have a relationship with their trafficker – it could be their boyfriend or friend
  • Not appear to need assistance because they have a place to live, food to eat, nice clothes, medical care and even a “paying job”
  • Be unaware of their rights, or may have been intentionally misinformed about their rights so they don’t know they can receive help
  • Be taught to distrust and fear the government and law enforcement officers because they are afraid they will get arrested or deported (if from another country)
  • Feel alone, isolated, helpless with nowhere else to turn. Subsequently they will do as they are told
  • Fear for their safety or the safety of someone known to them, as some traffickers will threaten to harm the victim, their friends or family members if they report their situation to, or cooperate with law enforcement
  • Feel as though they have a debt to “pay back” – for things like gifts, drugs, accommodation, recruitment fees etc.
  • Suffer trauma and psychological effects. In human trafficking related to sexual exploitation, the victims may be exposed to higher incidences of HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

(credits: The Centre: Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking)