An uncomfortable truth that we all have to come to terms with is that there’s a lot of evil being done right under our noses without many of us realizing it. In the United States, just in 2020 alone, over 10.5k situations of human trafficking were reported to the US National Human Trafficking Hotline. But as the Polaris project notes, “shocking as these numbers are, they are likely only a fraction of the actual problem.”
Wanting to do some good in the world, redditor u/PermanentSeeker turned to the r/AskReddit community for advice on how to spot and report human trafficking in real-life. The thread went viral and a number of internet users who actually help fight human trafficking or have been affected by it shared their advice. This might be the most informative post you’ve seen today, Pandas.
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Bored Panda got in touch with redditor u/PermanentSeeker, who started up the informative thread in the first place. They told us that they were inspired to create the thread because of a number of news stories in their area about people being trafficked or almost becoming victims of trafficking. “It was frightening and disheartening to hear about how much could be going on even in the region around my hometown, a relatively rural area, not a large city). So, I wanted to know if there was anything that I as a regular individual could do to help. I hoped that some people might have more knowledge than I do!” they shared.
“I was surprised (but very happy) to see how much traction it got! I was expecting maybe a few helpful responses at best, and so was not prepared for just how positive of a response it got,” the redditor said, hoping that their thread made a positive difference in other people’s lives. “I try to pay attention to what is going on around me, and pay attention to anyone who might not be safe.”
I’ve told this story on here before. I don’t fight human trafficking, but I’m a teacher who had a student who was sold by his mother in exchange for drugs. He was kept as a sex slave from ages 3-11 when the FBI uncovered a sex ring and found him. He had never been to school. He had never even been out of the house. These sorts of crimes are not being committed out in the open. They are very well hidden. You will never see these children, and no one is missing them. This poor boy couldn’t read or write. One day, he got a 100% on his spelling test. He asked me if I could ‘call his mom and ask her to take him back and he’d be a good boy from now on.’ Child sex trafficking is unfortunately all too common, but its become a very hidden problem.
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Redditor u/PermanentSeeker shared some of the things they found to be the most important that others posted in the thread. “Some of the most helpful responses were in regards to resources; such as where to report child pornography,” they said.
“Overall, though, I think a lot of it was just about paying attention to people around us, and being willing to put ourselves out there to ask if things are okay when we notice a strange pattern. I think a lot of people have a natural hesitancy to intrude on other people’s lives, but it seems that a lot of the fight against human trafficking revolves around being unafraid to make sure others are safe.”
Here in Spain we get a lot of women from eastern Europe and sub saharan Africa, some pay for their trip to europe this way, some are blackmailed and some are lured offers of jobs like cleaning, or low level administrative jobs (secretaries, paper pushing) and end up on in a roadside brothel.
If you´re a young woman in a poor area of eastern europe and you get a offer for a easy job in germany, france, spain or the netherlands. be VERY suspicious.
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My sociology professor told us if we ever see a child at a motel/hotel , make sure to say hi to them , and you can pretty well judge by their reaction if they’re safe or not.
also it’s a bit harder to do as a man.
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u/PermanentSeeker sees human trafficking as such a complex problem that it’s “difficult to know what could really bring a change.” However, they believe that having a more ethical, moral society could help decrease trafficking.
“This would hopefully lead to a more vehement response when wrongdoing is discovered, as well as fewer individuals likely to become perpetrators because of better moral or ethical formation,” they said.
“How to get to that point in particular? I’m really not sure. Though, it is easier to combat something as a culture when everyone can see its ugliness. Perhaps additional exposure and news coverage would be a good place to start. More people made aware of the things going on in their own neighborhoods.”
In Texas, something similar happened to my great grandmother when she was around ten. This can happen anywhere. And children are particularly vulnerable.
Her father traded her for some farm animals in the 1910’s. So she went to live with this middle-aged married couple. She was supposed to be their servant in exchange for food and board. She had her first child fathered by the husband when she was eleven. It didn’t survive. The second one did.
After my grandma told me about all this and more, I suddenly understood my great grandmother better, her personality and her actions. And I had always wondered why she wasn’t much older than her oldest children. And then I knew why.
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If I remember correctly, she died in the late nineties/early 2000’s. She was a complicated woman.
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I had a loved one pulled into the sex trafficking industry as an adult. So, I can offer a couple pointers for spotting adults who are being sold as sex workers.
1. Missing shoes. It’s hard to run away in a city barefoot. Blisters are a dead giveaway.
2. Not carrying a cell phone, identification, or the purse or wallet to put it in. Their pimp likes to hold these hostage to prohibit contact with the outside world and to make it difficult to purchase long distance transportation.
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I worked as front desk for a hotel, had a couple of experiences with this.
Look for groups of 2-3 where one person does all of the talking, specifically when the other(s) look scared, are overly covered, cringe when the talker is speaking, or look under the influence of something.
Ensure you get ID from all parties when you suspect something is going on, note down their room number and names given, trust your gut, what we call a ‘gut feeling’ is a combination of millions of tiny factors you might not knowingly be aware of, tiny details like hitched breathing, microexpressions, specific lying tells, environmental factors, etc.
These all add up and let your subconscious mind make connections that your general mind might not. Trust that feeling if you suspect something is wrong, and contact the police to inform them of a suspected human trafficking issue.
Both times my gut told me to call it in I ended up regrettably being correct.
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Redditor u/PermanentSeeker’s thread reached a lot of people on Reddit and beyond. The thread was upvoted over 46.7k times and the author received an entire host of awards.
However, the real value was the information in the thread, shared by the people who know a bit (or a whole lot) about how human trafficking works, how to spot someone in need of help, and how to handle delicate situations.
According to the Polaris project, absolutely anyone can become a victim of human trafficking. No matter their age, race, ethnicity, or gender. However, at the same time, it’s vital to know that some people are more vulnerable than others.
“Significant risk factors include recent migration or relocation, substance use, mental health concerns, involvement with the child welfare system, and being a runaway or homeless youth. Often, traffickers identify and leverage their victims’ vulnerabilities in order to create dependency,” Polaris explains.
Most of human trafficking is not the movie kind. It’s more the kind where an ethnic restaurant brings over a cook from their home country and they have to work unreasonable hours to pay back for the trip.
Or maybe it’s a maid or a construction worker who works below minimum wage and can’t have their passport back.
So look for people who work long hours at sub-legal wages.
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I don’t work for any organization that fights this but I have one tip for you all:
If a kid you don’t know calls you Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, Uncle, Aunt, anything, YOU PLAY ALONG. They are likely in a dangerous situation and need help.
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In Latin America: Look for maids who have been with a family since they were children. In my country they are called criadas.
This is form of servitude that closely resembles slavery and begins with a child, usually female of a poor rural family being brought to live with a moderately welthy urban family. The promise of a better future than what the parents could provide.
These kids don’t attend school and perform house chores all day and are paid in food and living quarters and sometimes the promise of money that the bosses are holding for them. They grow up this way so when they are adults they are afraid to leave, they don’t know any other way of life.
The bosses don’t often acknowledge anything wrong and they claim that the criada is grateful for having been given a better life.
I sadly have to admit that this happened in my extended family, they were bosses to a criada who would be 75 years old today. Only after all my aunts died and my cousins inherited the criada, they acknowledged the wrong doing and arragend for her to have a pension and a house and never have to work again and be treated a respected member of the family. But it was too late. She only lived as a retired person for 5 years before dying. She never learned to read, she never had children or a husband or any type or significant other.
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Human traffickers use a variety of tactics to control their victims. For instance, they can use their power, wealth, privilege, as well as physical and emotional abuse to get what they want. At other times, they threaten their victims, isolate them from their loved ones, and employ economic abuse against them.
“They make promises aimed at addressing the needs of their target in order to impose control. As a result, victims become trapped and fear leaving for myriad reasons, including psychological trauma, shame, emotional attachment, or physical threats to themselves or their family,” Polaris explains.
There’s an app you can download called TraffickCam.
Any time you stay at a hotel, upload photos of your room. Those photos are incorporated into an artificial intelligence algorithm that helps identify locations of trafficking victims via background details.
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Where I live, human trafficking is a big problem and there was a huge bust at a hotel not too long ago.
Usually hotels, motels, and airlines are trained to look out for signs of trafficking. Red flags include those who are very scared or nervous around specific people or talk like their following a script.
Those who are targeted usually come from broken homes or poor countries with the promise of a better life or how all of their problems can be solved by doing X. It can also include being showered with expensive or luxury gifts as a start of the luring in process.
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This is a great tip. One of the problems of p*rn is that it’s nearly impossible to tell who is being coerced behind the scenes and who isn’t. The younger they are, the more likely coercion is. But even adults can be trafficked or coerced or otherwise trapped or taken advantage of. Plus, the rise of easy-access porn is fueling a rise in sex trafficking.
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Psychologist and wellbeing consultant Lee Chambers, from the UK, shared some of his thoughts about traumatic experiences during an earlier interview with Bored Panda.
“Post-traumatic growth isn’t always simple to explain or utilize, but often the adversity we face can create a precedent for what we can overcome, help us to see what we need to be grateful for, and give us an understanding of the support we do have,” he said.
Our country (Philippines) is unfortunately the global hotspot of child cybersex trafficking in the world. Unlike what’s usually portrayed in movies, these children are not kidnapped by syndicates then sold to p***philes. Sadly, most of the sexual abuses happen at home. Parents or guardians are the ones exploiting them to get money!
I am not directly involved in the actual rescue or fight, but I do work with nonprofit organizations that provide shelter and therapy for rescued victims. I’ve met and talked to some of these children. Many of them didn’t even realize that they are being abused, especially those who were not r**ed IRL. They were groomed to think that just getting nude in front of the camera or touching themselves for pedophiles is not “bad”.
I think one important thing is that kids should know when they are being abused. It should be taught in schools. It can save lives.
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My husband works with a children’s home that deals with human trafficking; as said above most have to do with horrible work conditions but there are some that are actual sex trafficking and he said that he finds most of the victims very quiet and their eyes are always darting…constantly looking around for the next horrible thing/person to happen….he comes home and cries and tells me this job is the most rewarding he’s ever done but it is going to break his heart and his hope for humanity.
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A couple months ago I was looking for this one adult video that I liked but seemed to be removed from P**nhub (which in itself should’ve been a red flag). I eventually found it after a couple of minutes, but it was on one of those sketchy a** websites where a pop up comes up every other click you make. Well, turns out one of those pop ups goes to a literal child porn forum, where the first thing I’m greeted with is a picture of a little girl doing something I won’t even say here.
I immediately reported the site and closed out faster than I ever have before. Moral of the story: avoid sketchy p**n sites. This s**t is way more out in the open than you’d think.
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“A big part of opening the door to grow from our struggles is finding acceptance and taking ownership over what you can control and finding healthy ways to express the negative emotion that comes with challenges that test us,” the psychologist said.
One of the tactics that Lee used to deal with his trauma when he had to relearn how to walk is journaling.
Lee also opened up about what personally helped him when he had to learn to walk again. “Using journaling and talking about how I felt played a significant part in my recovery when I had to learn to walk again, and gave me the space to grow to become mentally stronger as a result. It is also important to reflect on all the hurdles you’ve overcome, so you can see what skills and lessons you’ve learned to apply in the future, and adversity often helps us to see what really matters, and gets us closer to knowing our values and purpose.”
One thing to note is sometimes it can happen in your own backyard, it can be the people you least expect.
I remember as a kid (maybe age 10 or 11) I used to play at one of my neighbors house, down the street. The girl who lived there was 2 years younger than me, so around 7 or 8, and I knew that her family was poorer than ours (cause the house was smaller and sorta in shambles and very dirty). I played there all the time, and she would always say things that were “odd” or “sexual” and it would always make me uncomfortable (my gut told me something was wrong).
One day she casually dropped that her brother had molested her and that his friends paid to use her body as well. I remember not being able to really process the weight of what she told me (but I knew it was wrong) and I ended up telling my mum and my mum called CPS on the family. Not sure what ended up happening to her because my family moved neighborhoods, but it still really creeps me out to this day, knowing I had sleep overs at her house when her brother and his friends were over and I could have just as easily been taken advantage of.
This type of thing is not uncommon at all.
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When talking to a child pay attention. If whenever a parent or adult walks past them or interacts with them and their upper body freezes, arms to the side like the queens guards, watch out. Often when children are abused they flail their arms so their abuser will grab or grip their arms, either to sedate, attack, or pacify. So if a pastor always makes a kid freeze their arms and pull in as if to be smaller, be aware and look for other signs.
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I actually have a story for this! I am by no means someone who exposes sex trafficking for a living, just someone who had an experience.
I lived in a very sketch apartment complex in Phoenix. My wife and I generally keep to ourselves, so we didn’t really have a problem. We at first noticed that there were constant visitors to our immediate neighbors ( their front door faced our front door). We figured maybe they were selling weed or some s**t like that. Do you, we don’t give a flying f**k as long as you don’t bring trouble to us.
Then we noticed it was only men who would show up every 15-20 minutes, stay for 15-45 minutes and leave. At this point we’re thinking whatever, if a chick wants to use sex work, we can’t give a s**t.
Then we noticed the pimp and the other girls in this apartment. They looked young, never left the apartment unless escorted and would only stick around for a couple of months before a new girl was brought in. When I say young, I mean they looked maybe 18. We only started realizing during quarantine and were home all day. The men would constantly knock on our door throughout the day and night, which is what caught our attention.
Anyways. We called Phoenix PD. They knocked on the door and said they couldn’t do anything without us providing photographic evidence. So we sat on our patio one day and discreetly starting taking photos of all the men coming in. Call the cops again and provide evidence. They knock on the door again, a customer walks out and hauls ass. The girls all haul ass. The pimp comes by after and bangs on our door.
We stayed at my dads house for 2 weeks while a sex crimes investigator surveyed the apartment. The pimp helped them move out and the investigator was able to find their new spot. We moved the f**k out very shortly after because we were afraid of some sort of revenge.
This is long, but pay attention to the people surrounding where you live. No need to be a nosy person, but when we actually started paying attention, we saw what was going on more clearly. We were concerned because none of these girls spoke any English, weren’t allowed out of the complex without an escort and seemed to be replaced constantly.
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When I was young, I had neighbors from India who had a family servant. I was really young at the time and was friends with the family’s children. Their “maid” cooked all their meals, cleaned their house, etc. and slept on the floor. What I remember is the family would go to India every now and then and I guess they promised her a better life in the US if she worked for them. As a result they took her passport and she was pretty much confined to their home. No holidays, no weekend breaks, I don’t even think she was paid and had a bank account setup. She was a very sweet nice lady who made AMAZING curry.
Anyways she wasn’t allowed to converse with anyone outside of the home. However we all carpooled together after school so she would come to my mom’s car to get the children and she would talk to my mom and even make my mom food. After awhile (2 years I would say) My parents and my neighbors started to catch on.
My parents made a plan to get her out and escape. She left and we took her to a family friend’s place where she lived for about a year. She would go to the local Indian community center and I believe she met a man there. She eventually moved out of our family friend’s home and I believe she got married. I hope she’s doing well and every now and then I think about her.
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I can only speak of my experience being trafficked in America. They get you young, when you’re poor, and don’t know any better. A mixture of positive validation and generosity contrasts heavily with the poor and abusive lifestyle prevalent in poverty. Then it becomes an ask, and another ask, and before you know it you’re just in it and don’t know any other way.
Any time I see a younger woman being affectionate with an older man I want to claw his eyes out. Men in business suits still gives me anxiety.
Don’t buy sex from anyone who looks under 20. If you do you’re part of the problem and you know it. Burn in hell Johns.
I am an intern at a Human Trafficking Task Force. It really helps just knowing the basics because I had no idea everything it entails. There is sex trafficking (the one we all know the most about), labor trafficking, and organ trafficking.
Trafficking happens through force, fraud, and/ or coercion. Trafficking is something of value that is being exchanged; the “something of value” can be food, shelter, clothes, money. You get the gist.
There is also the age issue. ANYONE under the age of 18 that has sex in exchange for a good is automatically considered a human trafficking victim. Even if the legal age of consent is 16, a 16 year old cannot consent to commercial sex. It also does not matter if they say they’re 18 and have fake identification “proving” they’re 18. If you are caught paying someone that is legally 16 for sex, you are human trafficking.
My organization is holding a webinar on this soon, and we also have social media where we explain the issues! If you guys want to PM me, I’ll share our socials. Visualization helps us fight HT (and so do donations if you can! we are a nonprofit). Thank you for reading!
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I really hope this doesn’t get buried. The manicure industry is notorious for this, so please think twice before patronizing salons you aren’t familiar with.
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Honestly I’d let them do thier jobs and if you want to help then maybe make steps to make that your career.
Human trafficking is a real thing but having 400 r******d qanon conspiracy theorists calling hotlines to report the Clintons is not helping anyone and likely the time wasted with these idiots has caused more problems than solutions.
800,000 kids go missing on average every year.. that sounds terrifying without the last sentence in context. “99.9% of them are found safe” only .1% are taken by strangers”.
I am all for reporting suspicious behavior or abuse but when people don’t fact check and use inflated numbers of kidnappings to push a political agenda it doesn’t help save anyone and likely has caused more harm than good.
There are many career opportunities like being a social worker that are in need of actual caring and empathetic workers. It’s actually an easy career to pursue but can be very mentally difficult. If it’s something you’re truly interested in I can give you some links to useful information on actually pursuing that.
It’s good to see people that actually care about our children and want to help but without the proper training you could really hurt families and cause harm in the end whether you have good intentions or not.
Don’t let this discourage you from helping the situation, I’m just suggesting a little more than internet advice from strangers before you go down that road.
The Covanent House in Nola takes in kids who are subject to this and at times subjected for years. The NFL player Ben Watson was involved in helping rescue kids. He did a very moving piece about the plight of some of these involuntary situations. Might want to look up the story. I was dumbfounded at the extent and the effort adults will exert to exploit these poor kids. The story still haunts me and I watched it years ago.
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I work for a crisis center that provides services for sex trafficking. Honestly, if you think something is off or smells fishy, it probably is. The perpetrators are so good at grooming that the victim doesn’t know that it’s abuse a majority of the time or they have been groomed to deny it. A lot of what I see with adults is super unhealthy relationships and they are told “if you do this, we will give you this”. It’s hardly ever them being taken somewhere, it’s usually a partner or family member. For instance: they want a better life so if they have sex with people for money, they will get better stuff like clothes, education, etc. For kids, they are groomed to think that the person is better for them than their family or are being abused horrifically by their family. It’s freakin sad.
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Everyone thinks human trafficking is like the movie Taken. Snatch and grab type trafficking makes up less than 1% of all trafficking incidents. My area of trafficking was a therapist for teen girls getting out of sex trade. Almost all girls were trafficked off of social media direct messages by “boyfriend pimps.” Runaways are also at extreme risk, in fact most runaways will be approached within 24 hours of running.
The most important thing you can do to prevent your child from falling victim is to have all of their passwords and monitor the hell out of them.
some of my friends are ex strippers and they told me that most of the time if a girl looks underage there’s good chances that she is.. pimps will spot runaway teenage girls then force them into prostitution and/or stripping
Quiet children who aren’t allowed to speak for themselves. This is a common sign especially at oil fields and truck stops/gas stations
I am a lawyer and the first thing I would say that is important to do if you notice anything weird is to alert the school, some child service or organisation. Not the police. Because a lot of times (if not most) the parents are the perpetrators or are enabling the trafficking situation, depending on the age of the victim (and of course this changes based on the laws of every country) they may need a legal guardian to make a report to authorities or even if they self report something the parents will deny that anything is happening and the police, classically will never pass on the case to the appropriate public office.
Take notes if you can e.g I saw this at date x happen, notes of the people you may have seen, even take pictures if it is a public place. If you have cctv and camera installed that show the street or public spaces please look at them regularly. Also, be aware of local missing persons, if you see something that feels weird or someone who you feel shouldn’t be there (in your area) or they are acting strange, also write down how they look etc, what they did, what they drive etc. It may sound too much but you could potentially find someone who is committing trafficking or who has even been abducted.
Another thing to look at is visits to someone who is an adult by a minor, without their guardian in your area or maybe apartment block. Especially if it is a lot of them and different minors. Most of the times some kind of abuse or exploitation is happening or trafficking. Also, if some minor in your area is being picked up by strangers in cars or different people all the time, note down the car plates, how the strangers look, the dates and again call an organisation. And at the end the authorities if they have to intervene and think the situation is dangerous.
Tattoos or brands on those who wouldn’t otherwise have them, either too young or just not their personality, that are very, very symbolic in nature.
A certain animal or symbol in a style with a marking such as a name or title near it or just the name or title(possibly in another language than the one native to the region or kanji)
people who “own” sex trafficking victims often like to mark or brand them as their own.
My sister used to work at a women’s shelter and she told me that in Sweden, and in parts of Europe, the three most common places where trafficking occurs is restaurant’s, nail salons and and massage salons.
Just in case anyone sees this way at the bottom, domestic trafficking takes place in the US everyday under our noses.
I work in rural Kansas and most of the human trafficking survivors I work with are trafficked by their spouse/partners. There is a popular myth that being trafficked means being kidnapped, or brought from another country to be sold into sex slavery or be pimped out along side a group of women; but overwhelmingly survivors think they are just in an abusive relationship and don’t realize until much later that they were in fact being trafficked. It all takes place inside the home and no one realizes it until it’s too late. Just check up on your friends/family every once in awhile, please.
I have some horror stories of survivors I’ve worked with in small towns all over Kansas that still make my blood run cold..
I volunteer with an organization called unbound Houston. Many of these comments are spot on- it’s not child abductions we need to be wary of, it’s situations where a person isn’t allowed to speak for themselves (in hospitals, doctors offices or any point of service industry like hair appointments and the like), situations involving run aways or even teens who seem “happy” but don’t really have control of their lives/choices or don’t seem well cared for. The overly sexual young child, the overly shy/quiet kid, the overly aggressive teen…all these can be warning signs of sexual exploitation. Basically if it feels off- investigate. If you think you can’t or don’t have the ways to investigate- report it. The worst thing about human trafficking is the human indifference to it.
In my hometown there was a human trafficking group that got busted. They were kidnapping clients from massage parlors in town. Creepy af.
Also, I worked in a local ER while in nursing school and were screen everyone for abuse. With kids you see frequent UTIs and bruises in weird places, like the upper arms and thighs. We are also a big hotspot for trafficking prostitutes. In the ER they are almost always accompanied by a man who answers every question for her or they’ll say they need to check with her “boyfriend” on certain issues. Had one a couple years ago that we fought hard to get her out of her current situation without his knowledge. Tried to find her a one way ticket across the country to start a new life. No idea how she turned out but her story was heart breaking.
My wife used to teach piano in an affluent suburb, and one of her students had an elderly ‘nana’ who was openly treated like dirt by everyone in the house.
She began to suspect this was a case of trafficing/slavery, but shortly after she took a moment to talk to the old lady about her situation, the family got rid of the old lady and subsequently fired my wife from teaching their kid.
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For university-aged students, be very cautious with foreign summer work arrangements in resort cities abroad.
With foreign resort city summer work as the bait, university-aged students are promised a work visa, arranged legal work, roundtrip travel, and lodging in a distant foreign country for an overall desirable resume-building experience. What is delivered is basically forcing worked hours far in excess of legal amounts, substandard pay, being housed in subpar conditions, and threatened withholding of summer-end return travel unless the person complies. The uni student’s parents likely can’t afford to send money to rescue their child.
For an example, a Polish university student studying international business comes to the US to work for a summer. What really happens is the student comes to the US, get lodged in a single grubby motel room with 11 other similar-aged people, and is forced to work 12+ hours every day rotating to various hotels doing contract housekeeping. She isn’t super confident with her English, absolutely does not know how to alert authorities to her issue, and basically has no money. Parents don’t have the funds to wire her to get her home.
This a real case where this woman was “rescued” because she was cute and a local older gentleman with nothing much else to do but talk with random cute girls asked about her story. She spoke English well enough to tell her tale. The kind gentleman and his generous friends realized how illegal and messed up the arrangement was. The men assisted the woman and her two friends by moving them in with a nice family, helping them get legit summer jobs, and raised funds to pay for flights for all three girls back to Poland. The men reported the sketchy arrangement/company to the local authorities and pulled enough strings to stop that small illegal operation.
For those working in hotel services that contract lots of foreign labor in areas like housekeeping/laundry, just keep an eye out for those folks. Maybe strike up a conversation to make sure they are ok.
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If a guy comes into a tattoo shop with multiple women (either at once or separate trips) and makes the women get the same tattoo
This may be specific to the area of the US I was in, but the nonprofit I worked for had us go to tattoo shops and give them pictures of known tattoo designs that traffickers make their victims get. Most shops were happy to take the pictures and post them in employee only areas and train employees on protocol when somebody came in for the tattoo. One was really shitty because they didn’t want to miss out on the money they make from doing these tattoos, which made us assume it was a lot of requests for the tattoos
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It’s important to note that the “taken” kind of sex slave trafficking is NOT the majority of global trafficking.
95% of missing children are returned to their parents within 3 days.
50% have to do with custody disputes.
The majority of the rest are runaways.
There are Facebook macros all the time about “800,000 children go missing every year” and show you a pic of a sad kid in the back of an unmarked van — misleading in its presentation and distracts from the far more widespread human trafficking phenomena. Which includes indentured servants paying off their transportation to the country they work in now, or Politically or socially oppressed in their home country who pay others to move them illegally.
When you go googling “save the children” hashtags, you’ll slip real quick into rabbit holes full of conspiracy theories and falsehoods, which actively damages public efforts to ACTUALLY curb exploitative human trafficking.
Children are exponentially more likely to be sexually abused by a close friend or family member than by nefarious strangers.
Please keep your priorities in the right place.
The first time I saw a slave I was in Thailand and it really depressed and enraged me. My wife, who was born and raised in Thailand, pointed out that all the girls and boys who get turned out and end up in the ER (where I interact with them) are also slaves really put things into perspective. My knowledge of human trafficking victims is from a healthcare perspective and probably not helpful here. However, if you do suspect human trafficking contact law enforcement immediately, write down a detailed description of the people (write it so you don’t misremember), and write down license plates.
As a truck driver, truck stops are pretty popular locations. I haven’t seen anything in person that I was aware of, but our company trained us to keep an eye out and we run Truckers Against Trafficking stickers on our trucks. Besides the general prostitution (forced or consensual) at truck stops, truck stops are hot spots for transferring humans, food, and drink for traffickers. There’s so many people and vehicles going in and out that it’s a rather easy place for them. The signs are the same as everything else mentioned, but this is a spot to keep an eye out if you stumble across a pilot or Flying J for fuel and breakfast one day.
Do not trust a silver platter! In the shipping industry, foreign seafarers are approached to be promised a good life in the US. They are approached right outside the pier with promises that are too good to be true causing crew members to abscond their vessel in exchange for work, a home and legalization. They do this without being in possession of their passports because the master of the ship keeps their passports. This usually ends in a sex trade environment or other abusive scenarios. This is common for all kinds of ship workers starting from freighters to cruise ship crew
I’m guessing you’re probably looking for information relevant to location, but if I may share…
If you decide to travel (whenever we all can safely do so again!) and your destination is a hotspot for human trafficking (SE Asia, Thailand, for example), be very aware of giving money directly to children begging on the streets, or other vulnerable appearing adults. While their pleas will pull at your heart, consider donating (if you choose to) physical goods like food, school materials and other things that aren’t of super high value.
Often, the cold truth is, is that these children are usually being forced by their relatives or non-related adults, to beg and try and make a profit that will then be taken by their trafficker. Especially if they’re out begging during hours they should normally be in school.
Online content reviewer who frequently reviews pedophilic content:
Your kids are frequently recorded at beaches or parks. Especially in countries where kids are nude. Take care, and don’t upload too many kid pics to social media.
One thing to know – no trafficked child looks the same.
Here in the UK and across the world, children of all ages, genders and cultures are subjected to human trafficking and exploitation. Vulnerable children – like the ones on the streets – are targeted and moved both within countries and across borders.
Those trafficked here into the UK are often taken from areas of poverty and made to go on dangerous journeys, travelling thousands of miles away from home with many being abused and exploited on the way. On arrival at their destination, the children can be coerced into cannabis cultivation, benefit fraud and forced begging. Others are forced into sexual exploitation or domestic servitude. And the children do not realize that what’s happening to them is wrong.
I speak only for UK as I am a man from there. An increasingly high profile form of child trafficking is County Lines. This involves predominantly British children being groomed by their exploiters who then coerce them into buying and selling drugs, often across the country. The exploiters purposefully prey on the most vulnerable children and teenagers, grooming them and gaining their trust over time, often by giving them expensive items such as designer clothes and mobile phones, before forcing them to deal drugs to pay back the “debt” that they have incurred.
They may be too fearful to speak out as they have become reliant on their traffickers to feed and clothe them. They may also have been subjected to physical, sexual and emotional abuse or do not know where to turn for help.
Children who have been trafficked from outside of the UK often speak little or no English, making them even more isolated and dependent on those exploiting them. An almost perfect scheme. There ya go.
I used to work with children 12-17 that were sex trafficked, as well as adults. First of all, assume anyone that looks underage is actually underage. If you see those images online, report them. Pimps travel around a lot, keeping girls on the move. Unlike what most people think, all of the clients I worked with (thousands) knew their abuser. Either a friend of a friend, a relative, a step family member, or a person they met online. So check who your kids are talking to online on any platform. They also stake out places like group and foster homes. Honestly, some of you can help out by paying adults for your porn and adult content versus using poorly curated sites.
Secondly, I worked with adults that had been trafficked to work in massage parlors. They would be brought in from various countries including China and Vietnam, then have their passports taken. One of our clients got murdered by the traffickers.
Finally, there are people in sweatshops, restaraunts, etc. There are have been numerous high profile cases here in the Bay Area, including one by my house.
I don’t have tons of tips, just a bit of education.
We had a rash of men here in salem stalking young women at stores and a couple of kidnappings and some attempts so we started a fb group where women could request escorts to show up and walk them to their cars…..after a few encounters that ended in arrests they moved on to another community and its been quite for the last 2 years….I’d say keep your eyes open for men just “hanging out” near stores and watch out for the vehicles parked next to you….alot of the time they’ll use a van or suv and park next to the victim and jump out as they load their stuff…
Image credits: ShaftyKilla
I am a forensic nurse and SANE(sexual assault nurse examiner) at a pediatric hospital in the US. The documentary “Nefarious, Merchant of Souls” is a good one to watch to understand trafficking on a global scale.
As far as sex trafficking goes in the US, girls and boys can be trafficked by their parents (or other family members) or older men (or women) they met online or somewhere in person. Most teenage girls who are trafficked don’t realize they are being trafficked…they just think that older man is their boyfriend. Not realizing that a man in their mid 20’s should not be “dating” a 12yo. Some traffickers brand their “property” (ex. Tattoos or other body modification such as lines shaved in an eyebrow). However people need to understand that it’s not as simple as just reporting it. They are usually several factors that go into account. Fear is a huge motivator and most traffickers use fear to keep their people in line.
People that go to the ER or Urgent Care (likely rare for these folks) with a person who will not leave their side and speaks on their behalf. Could be a parent or translator, could also not be. There was some news article about it a few years ago at some place in Michigan I want to say.
How to spot an illegal massage parlor that is likely trafficking: Does it have a camera at the front door and curtains over the windows? Does it have a “warning device” at the front door (e.g., a bell that rings when someone enters)? Are there locks on the service room doors? Does it look like people are living there (e.g. kitchen stuff, beds)? Do they have the appropriate licenses posted?
If the answers are yes to most of these questions it’s highly likely it’s a prostitution – probably trafficking – operation. Report it to your local city and they can investigate and revoke their business license, which will shut the place down. These places are WAY more prevalent that you would think.
Those young kids and adults out on the streets? They’re prime targets, especially in large cities. If he/she is offering “services” and looks too young, they probably are. I believe the fall of the family unit, untreated mental illness/SUD, and social media are contributing factors…
Predators know what to look for: vulnerability, low self-esteem, lack of belonging, basic needs not being met. It’s funny what a little food and listening ear can grant these people. They know how to up the ante, use addiction, threats, and “rewards” in their favor.
Parents- have a relationship with your kids! Provide the necessities and a safe environment for them to thrive. STOP giving them a reason to run from home. Be involved. If something feels off, acknowledge that. Don’t be scared to seek outside sources when the going gets tough. Mostly tell your baby you love them EVERY day.
Public: If you see something, say something. Don’t blatantly confront w/ predator present. If victim is able to request help get them somewhere private with a phone to call 911.
Image credits: newestadd15
Question for anyone who has experience on this sort of thing:
Around two years ago, I stopped for gas on my way to work. I saw two guys who looked to be in their late thirties or early forties stopped in a parking spot to the side of the gas station building. There was a young girl that looked to be around fifteen years old with them who looked nervous and scared. One of them gave a stack of cash to the other, who took the girl away in the other vehicle.
In that moment, I thought I was sure I was seeing a trafficking exchange. Something about it just seemed off and rose red flags for me, it did not seem as if it was some Step Dad handoff or anything like that. I called 911 and gave a description of everything.
To this day I still think about it and wonder if I did the right thing or jumped to conclusions too quickly. Did I?
Image credits: Danielrh9
Obligatory “not me” but i know somebody who almost kidnapped by a fake uber driver. Keep yourself and others safe by reminding them to always make sure your driver is who they are supposed to be.
Image credits: TurretX
From my own experience working in a field where we are likely to come across human trafficking, cuckooed properties are often tied to county lines dealers who use child drugs mules.
Find the cuckooed property and you can usually unearth a whole bunch of them.
Aside from this, any south East Asian nail bar in the UK is at least suspect.
Ive known 7 local to me and all have been closed following human trafficking investigations, and any human trafficking training you go on will likely mention them.
They get women who speak little to no English from poor countries like Cambodia and poor parts of Vietnam and almost act like their pimps.
I work at a hospital that finds 5 victims of human trafficking a year. The spooky thing is that all those cases come from people who are accompanied by people you wouldn’t think are evil shits. Like there was one girl who came in with her “aunt”. Not an aunt, human trafficker…
I kind of think the donut shop in my very small town is doing human trafficking. It’s an EXTREMELY small town (probably no more than 5,000 people total) yet every time you go get donuts, they have a new crew working.
There are like 50,000 detained immigrants in the USA being forced to work for a dollar a day or nothing, and the women are getting unwanted hysterectomies and are abused in other ways. In some cases these are the same people who were separated from their kids, also in detention in horrible conditions, being given sedatives, walking around dirty, and god knows what else. IN THE USA, the government is striking deals with private contractors, like private prisons to put these people to work.
What I’ve learned about is mostly about sex trafficking.
It may not be useful but i thought I’d just post it
Sex trafficking mostly acurs in hotels/motels or vacation parcs. It can be anything, from windows are always closed or a do not disturb sign. To extra linnen and sheets. Also that in most cases the let’s say pimp (can be both male and female) pays in cash and asks for extra linnen etc.
A tattoo on the victims back of course is a huge red flag and for example housekeeping can look if the room/house is dirty and especially how the bedroom looks. Weirdly enough a lot of times the bin has been moved.
Maybe for people who work in a hotel or anything a like will find this useful
I remember seeing something about a website where you upload photos of your hotel room to help ID possible trafficking hotspots. Not sure what it’s called, but sounds useful.
This will probably blow your mind but I’ve done everything possible in my power with 0 results. Atlanta is a hub for this type of thing due to our geographic location and international airport. I would run 911 calls on females who had been assaulted usually after contact with men looking to pay for sex. The largest hospital downtown would do little besides reporting to police. They actually had a massive backlog of rape kits that sat dormant in a storage room. The most cruel thing I would see happen is how police treated these women. Fulton Industrial Blvd and I-20 is an extremely high crime area in Atlanta, laden with trafficking women from different states. It is approximately 1 mile from the police headquarters and yet crime persists. Police would park across from a gas station lot and the women would leave. Then they’d leave and the women would return. They seem delighted in doing this just to make the prostitutes walk to and fro for hours. I lost a lot of hope. We would see the same women often despite the reports. The only helping hand left is a yearly church based event there that tries to help women off the street. It lasts for a single weekend. Most just go for the food and clothes
If you travel, taking pictures of your hotel room can help law enforcement identify places.
TraffickCam. There is an app that allows you to load the photos.
My wife is an attorney who works on the advocacy side of human sexual exploitation, and in overhearing her meetings the one line that struck me the most, and that I had never thought of previously, is: there’s no such thing as an 11-year-old prostitute. The idea being, when you’re 11, you’re a victim, not a criminal.
So to answer your question, the best way to spot it is to contextualize illegal activity (in this case, sexual) and realize when someone is doing something because they’re being forced by someone, i.e., a trafficker.
There was a trafficking case only just a few towns away where i am, and quite recent. I can give some of the tips they gave:
Never ever go to meet with someone online
Don’t work somewhere as a last resort if the place is sketchy
Don’t give your IP address (its mostly just the basic internet safety stuff)
The people at risk most are immigrants and foster children. It’s not like it is in the movies and people are more likely to be lured online or by someone close to them by far than anything else.
There’s a lot of great tips already mentioned.
One thing that hurts people that need help is conspiracies on the internet. When the nutty wayfair conspiracy and others started real tips couldn’t get through because phone lines were tied up.
I’m very positive I saw somebody go off with a trafficker. Can’t say for sure because it was either that or a super awkward date meet up. I was at tysons corner mall bored after work and I was messaging my friend and she said something like “btw did you know that the mall you’re in is a hotspot for sex trafficking?” And she sent me an article about it. I read the article and it said something about the elevator bay. So I told her “bullshit I’m going over to this elevator bay right now” and sat on a bench nearby and people-watched for a bit. It was around 4 o clock at this point. I saw people passing by like normal but I also saw a girl (super pretty, nice clothes and makeup and looked like she was in the 16-19 age range) standing kinda nervously on her phone like she was waiting to meet somebody. Then at 4 like clockwork some fat guy who looked like he was in his late 30s or early 40s came off the elevator and him and the girl started walking away quickly and she looked nervous and was staying a couple feet away from him as she walked with him. I was in shock and froze up at the sight and I forever wish I’d said something to them. I did keep an eye out on the AMBER alerts and any missing persons stuffs for weeks afterward but I never saw her picture so I never really followed up after that. I didn’t see any mall security around to reach out to and with the fact that this happened at exactly 4 PM I suspect it was strategically planned for shift change.
With this said, I would suggest that you make sure to not freeze up in shock of what you’re seeing like I did and say something if you see something like that. It was awkward in the case I saw bc they were gone too quick to catch. So maybe get a picture even if you can Bc I didn’t think of that at the time
Ugh. Wish I had done something.
Was on a streetcar one afternoon and overheard a young, pretty girl discussing her “runaway” from home to someone she was familiar with. The familiar person was a kindly, older man who understood her situation and could understand what she was going through.
It was total grooming.
I did turn around and stare at the guy. I tried to get eye contact with the girl. At the end of the day it would have been a nosy citizen making false accusations.
I’ve never forgotten the “what if” of the situation and hate myself for not saying something.
Check out DeliverFund if you want to do something about it or read about how they fight it. I am just a supporter of theirs so I can’t answer your question directly. They have some videos that might give you a better idea of how it happens though.