How to Identify Human Trafficking

In 2021, U.S. law enforcement made 2,360 arrests for human trafficking-related offenses, according to the Department of Homeland Security. While that number may sound impressive, the majority of human trafficking perpetrators are never caught or arrested. 

At Covenant Rescue Group, our experts train police and other peace officers on how to identify human traffickers. Read on to learn how to identify human trafficking and possibly liberate these victims. The signs of human trafficking can be more subtle than you might imagine. 

Work and Living Conditions

One characteristic of trafficking victims is an inability to come and leave their work as they wish. While not every person in this form of forced servitude works in the sex industry, many do.

Many sex trafficking victims were lured through false promises. Often, these workers work excessive hours and live at their place of work. 

Women who live at hotels and appear to work for older males can be another red flag. The term “daddy” is often used to refer to pimps.

Where you live could have a huge impact on the likelihood of encountering victims of human trafficking. Washington D.C., Atlanta, and Orlando are among the cities with the highest incidents of human trafficking.   

Behavioral Signs to Look For

Outward signs of depression, anxiousness, and paranoia are common among trafficking victims. These young women are often conditioned by their captors to avoid eye contact and to not trust outsiders, especially law enforcement. 

Physically, these victims may be lacking medical care. They may appear malnourished or show signs of confinement, torture, or abuse. 

Identify Human Trafficking

Other Common Signs

Due to the controlling nature of sex traffickers, victims often have few, if any, personal possessions. They also rarely are allowed to keep money, IDs, or other identification documents. 

When asked where they are from or why they are visiting, trafficking victims will try to avoid providing an address. A loss of any sense of time is also common among trafficking victims. 

These young women are conditioned to fight and protect their captors, even when those actions aren’t in their own best interests. 

What Do I Do If I Find a Trafficking Victim?

One easy step is to call 911 and describe what you are seeing. Police are trained on how to identify signs of human trafficking. Or you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

Never try to intervene directly. Doing so could put you and the trafficking victim in danger. Call a professional or a professional organization. 

Learn More Tips to Identify Human Trafficking

One of the best ways to stop human trafficking is to identify the signs described in this article and to notify law enforcement or a professional organization about what you observed.

Knowing how to identify human trafficking is just one step anyone can take to address this horrible crime. If you work in law enforcement or wish to support our efforts to bring essential training and equipment for law enforcement, contact our team today.