Human Trafficking Victim Dynamics

Helping Families. Supporting Communities. Empowering Individuals.

Human Trafficking Victim Dynamics (pdf)

Domestic Sex Trafficking Victim Identifiers: Adults and Minors

  • Under 18 and in prostitution
  • Under 18 and not attending school or has numerous school absences
  • Under 18 and dating much older, abusive, or controlling men
  • Multiple people living in one house
  • Possesses False ID's and lies about age
  • Has large amounts of cash, jewelry, or new clothes
  • Has no cash, as trafficker may hold all money brought in by victim
  • Has recurrent STI's/STD's and/or need for pregnancy tests
  • Shows signs of physical assault including: broken bones, black eyes, bruising, injury, etc.
  • Shows signs of branding or tattooing of trafficker's name (often on the neck)
  • Disappears for blocks at a time; chronic runaway
  • Has inconsistencies in stories
  • Has restricted or strict communication
  • Uses or abuses substances
  • Exhibits signs of exhaustion, fear, anxiety, depression
  • Shows increase in mental health symptoms
  • Exhibits extreme weight loss
  • Possesses hotel room keys
  • Lacks knowledge about a given community or whereabouts
  • Pagers or cell phones not paid by parents or guardian
  • Inability or fear to make eye contact

Foreign-born Victim Identifiers: Adults and Minors, Labor and Sex Trafficking

  • Has no travel documents or identification
  • Multiple people living in cramped space, one house, or one restaurant
  • Has little or no pocket money; trafficker controls all victim's possessions/money
  • Has little control over schedule or work schedule
  • Lacks concrete short or long term plans
  • Lives and works in the same place
  • Shows signs of physical assault including: branding, tattooing, broken bones, or other signs of abuse
  • Exhibits submissive or fearful behavior in the presence of others
  • Has inconsistencies in stories
  • Lacks knowledge about a given community or whereabouts
  • Exhibits signs of exhaustion, fear, anxiety, depression
  • Exhibits extreme weight loss, malnutrion, poor hygiene, or signs if illness due to lack of health care
  • Is accompanied by a controlling person who answers for them
  • Cannot speak english; trafficker may act as a translator
  • Inability or fear to make eye contact

Note: These identifiers should raise red flags and can indicate a possible trafficking situation. It is important to not, however, that not all individuals displaying these signs are trafficking victims. Multiple signs and the right combination of these signs can indicate a potential trafficking situation. Many identifiers crossover and apply to both foreign-born victims and U.S. citizen victims, adults and children, and male and female victims.

Risk and Vulnerability Factors to Becoming a Victim

  • Children involved in the foster care system and child protective services
  • Children involved in juvenile justice system
  • Individuals from developing countries where opportunity and jobs are rare
  • Individuals with limited education or general lack of awareness of the issue
  • Individuals with past history of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or neglect
  • Individuals coming from impoverished backgrounds
  • All children are vulnerable; simply being a child makes one vulnerable

Where do Traffickers Recruit Child Victims?

  • Outside of schools, After-school programs
  • Outside of Juvenile Detention Centers
  • Bus Stops, Train Stations
  • Malls and Shopping Areas
  • Outside of Youth Centers, Community Centers, or where youth are known to hang out
  • Parties, Clubs, Bars, friend's houses, relative's houses
  • Internet and Social Networking Sites (e.g. Myspace)

Other Forms of Recruitment

  • Advertisements for work (e.g. cleaning, farm labor, construction)
  • Posing Modeling Recruitment Agencies; Posing Study Abroad Programs
  • Word of Mouth: By Friends, Family Members

Areas Where First Responders Can Encounter Victims

  • Hospitals & Clinics
  • HIV / AIDS Prevention & Outreach
  • Child Welfare System
  • Juvenile Justice System
  • Schools
  • Criminal Justice System
  • Churches
  • Housing Shelters
  • All Social Services
  • Ethnic and Cultural Community Centers

Other Areas where Victims can be Identifed and are Forced to Work

  • Sex Trafficking
    • Massage Parlors or ethnic Spas
    • Online Escort/Erotic Services (e.g. Craigslist)
    • Modeling Studios or Lingerie Modeling Studios
    • Bars/Strip Clubs
    • Street Prostitution
    • Brothels/Cathouses
  • Labor Trafficking
    • Sweatshops
    • Agricultural Industry (farms, fields, processing plants)
    • Peddling and Begging on Street (selling trinkets, etc.)
    • Homes (as maids, nannies)
    • Construction Sites
    • Restaurant and Janitorial/Custodial work

Note: More often than not, we must look for victims. Victims may come into contact with us through various entry points as listed above, but many victims are uncovered through direct outreach to victims in these areas.

Needs of Victims

  • Treatment for Major Trauma, Depression, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Individual and/or Group Mental Health Services
  • Safety Planning
  • Medical Treatment
  • Linkage and Referral to other Social Services
  • Substance Abuse Treatment
  • Education Needs (basic education, English as a Second Language, vocational education)
  • Housing (Emergency, Short-term and Long-term)
  • Legal Services (Immigration attorney if not a US citizen)
  • Translation Services (Trained and Certified Interpreters)
  • Outreach to Locate Victims
  • Reunification Services
  • Employment Assistance (Job training, job placement, career coaching)
  • Assistance dealing with law enforcement
  • Assistance dealing with and testifying against pimps/traffickers
  • Services to develop healthy non-sexual relationships with adults

Barriers to Victim Assistance

  • Lack of education on victim identification and on human trafficking, in general.
  • Runaway children are not treated as possible "missing" cases or human trafficking cases by police departments.
  • Victims may have been given fake IDs and may be forced to memorize false information, therefore drawing out the interviewing process.
  • Victims may be distrustful of social service providers for fear of judgment and a lack of understanding.
  • Victims may be distrustful of law enforcement for fear of arrest or deportation.
  • Child victims may be interviewed by law enforcement in juvenile detention facilities and may be reluctant to share information about involvement in prostitution or sex trafficking.
  • Lack of safe and appropriate housing for victims. Victims are usually placed in detention centers, where they are re-traumatized and incacerated for being a victim, even if they were placed there for their own safety. Victims may be placed in homeless shelters or domestic violence shelters where there specific needs may not be met.

Sources Consulted