Signs, Indicators, And Risk Factors

Below are signs, indicators and risk factors of victims of human trafficking.³

Behavioral Indicators

  • Acute fear and distrust
  • Low self esteem
  • Anger, shame, grief, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, apathy, paranoia, suicidal thoughts
  • Isolation
  • Eating disorders, drug addiction
  • Sleep deprivation}
  • Over sexualized behavior
  • Inconsistent stories lacking significant detail
  • Memory loss
  • Estranged from family
  • Gives deceptive responses to questions
  • Does not speak on own behalf
  • Avoids eye contact with responders

Physical Indicators

  • Has brands or tattoos indicating trafficker’s ownership
  • Bruising, scars, and other signs of physical violence and/or sexual abuse
  • Contracted sexual transmitted infections
  • Reproductive problems caused by unsafe abortions
  • Signs of substance abuse problems        
  • Signs of malnutrition

Environmental Indicators

  • Victims live on or near their work premises
  • Personal freedom and movement are restricted
  • Unusual security within the person’s living space such as barred, locked, or tinted windows, locked doors, covert video   security, or guards
  • Sparsely furnished rooms with few or no personal possessions
  • No access to telephones
  • Cannot talk to visitors or speak for themselves
  • Lack of personal space or share living space with multiple people
  • Works long hours

Financial Indicators

  • Has no possession of his/her own legal &/or travel documents
  • Carries false ID
  • Has no personal money
  • Money earned from forced sexual servitude or labor belongs to trafficker
  • Has existing debt issues
  • Owes financial debt to trafficker
  • Is forced to sign a contract
  • Is “traveling” with an unusually large amount of money
  • Has little or no access to earnings and no bank account

Indicators of a Minor Under 18 Years Old

  • Often estranged from family
  • Lives with other unrelated youths, and the heads of the minors’ households are unrelated youths
  • Receives gifts, money, or clothing from unrelated youths or adults
  • Has significant, unexplained absences from school or may be identified as truant
  • Has a much older boyfriend or girlfriend, or friends
  • Makes references to sexual situations that are unusual for a child of that age

Risk Factors

  • Children and adults in families where there is neglect, abuse, violence, and drug use
  • Runaway youth
  • Homeless youth and adults
  • Victims of trauma and abuse
  • Individuals living in poverty
  • Individuals with a history of substance abuse
  • People of color
  • LGBTQ youth and adults experiencing family rejection
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • Refugees who don’t speak English
  • Undocumented migrants

Click here for references cited above >