Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Coercion can be subtle or overt; physical or psychological. Human trafficking does not need to include movement or smuggling of persons. If the individual is under the age of 18 and engaging in commercial sex, it is human trafficking, regardless if force, fraud, or coercion is present. It affects men, women, and children of all ages, races, ethnicities, religions, disabilities, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses.
Traffickers use a variety of tactics to lure susceptible people into trafficking situations, including violence, manipulation, false promises, or romantic relationships. Traffickers look for people who are at risk for a variety of reasons including psychological and emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, lack of support system, natural disasters, or political instability.
If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, or you see a potential trafficking situation, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1(888) 373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to 233733. Do not approach the victim or situation directly, as it can be extremely dangerous. Call 911 or the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
Power and control are present whenever there is violence. Abusive power and control are the methods through which someone gains and maintains power and control over someone else. The Power and Control Wheel shows behaviors that may occur in human trafficking situations.
Coercion & Threats: Threatens to do physical harm. Threatens to harm family. Threatens to shame victim to community. Threatens to report to police/immigration.
Intimidation: Harms or kills others to show force. Displays or uses weapons. Destroys property. Harms children. Lies about police involvement in the trafficking situation.
Emotional Abuse: Humiliates in front of others. Calls names. Plays mind games. Makes victim feel guilt, blame for situation. Creates dependence by convincing victim that trafficker is the only one who cares for them.
Minimizing, Denying, & Blaming: Makes light of abuse situation. Denies that anything illegal is occurring. Places blame on victim for trafficking situation.
Isolation: Keeps victim confined. Accompanies to public places. Creates distrust of police/others. Moves victims to multiple locations. Rotates victims. Doesn’t allow victim to learn English. Denies access to children, family, friends.
Sexual Abuse: Forces victim to have sex with multiple people in a day. Uses rape as a weapon and means of control. Treats victim as an object used for monetary gain. Normalizes sexual violence and selling sex.
Using Privilege: Treats victim like a servant. Defines gender roles to make subservient. Uses nationality to suggest superiority. Uses certain victims to control other victims. Hides or destroys important documents.
Economic Abuse: Creates debt bondage that can never be repaid. Takes some or all money earned. Forbids victim to have access to their finances or bank account. Forbids victim to go to school.