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Identifying a Victim

Are you a victim of human trafficking?
Do you know someone who may be a victim?

Often we have an idea that something is wrong, but are unable to pinpoint why.  

Don't be an investigator. Allow law enforcement or the Human Trafficking Hotline to perform in-depth follow up with a suspected victim. You don't want to re-traumatize the victim by having them re-tell and re-live their abuse. But if you do get an opportunity to compassionately and safely talk to or interact with a suspected victim, here are some questions that may assist you identify if someone who may be trafficked for their labor or commercial sex services.

Questions to Ask Potential Victims

Physical Signs

Are they under the control of someone else? Is someone else doing all the talking for them?

Are they withdrawn or in fear of someone? 

Does it seem like their freedom of movement is restricted, such as are they confined to a home or building?

Do they have bruises or other signs of beatings and trauma? 

Do they appear overworked?

Do they have very few possessions, even when they travel for work?

Students and Minors

Are they working during school hours? 

Does the minor have unexplained absences from school?

Are they attending school?

Does the minor run away constantly — especially on the weekends? 

Is the minor under the control of an older and controlling person, such as a boyfriend or girlfriend?

Are there sudden changes in the minor's behavior/personality? Have they become withdrawn or depressed? 

Do they show signs of anxiety, panic, or fear? 

Safety

Are you afraid something bad will happen to you if you talk to someone about your working conditions?

Has anyone ever threatened you or physically injured you to for you to do something you don't want to do? 

Are you afraid your employer may physically harm you?

Working Conditions

Are you indebted to your employer? 

Did you pay any recruitment fees to get your job?

Are you being compensated for working more than 40 hours a week?

Does anyone else take the money you earn ( for example, a recruiter or your employer)?

Have you ever been threatened with deportation? 

Is someone else in control of your identifying papers, such as your license, ID cards or passport?

Might someone retaliate against you if you try to leave your job?

Are the windows of the establishment in which you work boarded up?

Living Conditions

Where do you sleep?

Do you live where you work?   

Do you have your own room?

Can you come and go freely on your own?

Are the doors ever locked, preventing you from leaving? 

Are cameras monitoring the inside of the premises?

Do you need permission to eat or sleep? 

Are you ever deprived of food or sleep?


These questions are only an indicator someone is being trafficked. No one question can identify a human trafficking victim —  it's the totality of the answers along with your gut instinct that should begin to provide you an indication of a trafficked victim.