Facts and Red Flags

Facts about Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking Defined
Human trafficking is a fast-growing and highly demanded crime. It is also modern-day slavery. Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act or labor in which those acts are induced by force, fraud or coercion, or if the person induced to perform such an act is not yet 18 years of age. Elements of force, fraud and coercion exist in all human trafficking and can be defined as withholding money or documents, instilling fear or violence, or, an individual taking advantage of someone’s vulnerable position (such as homelessness, addiction, escaping abuse or immigration status).

Under both federal law and Illinois state law, human trafficking does not require the element of transportation across country boarders or state lines. An individual who uses only psychological violence or manipulation to force someone into the sex or labor trade may also be considered a human trafficker.

Examples of Where Sex and Labor Trafficking May Exist
Trafficking can exist in a wide variety of venues including:

  • Hotels
  • Conventions
  • Clubs
  • Major Sporting Events (e.g. The Superbowl and The World  Series)
  • The Internet/Online services
  • Fake Massage Businesses
  • Strip Clubs
  • Residential Brothels
  • The Street
  • “Mom & Pop” Stores
  • Factories
  • Truck Stops
  • Farms and Agricultural Spaces
  • Hair and Nail Salons
  • Restaurants and Food Services
  • Hospitality Industries

Trafficking Occurs both Internationally and Domestically
Every year, human traffickers generate large profits by victimizing women, men, children, documented and undocumented immigrants and U.S. citizens, internationally and in the United States. The federal definition of human trafficking includes and protects both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals.

Red Flags That Trafficking May Be Happening:

Victims can look like the people you see every day, but being aware of these “red flag” indicators may help you identify individuals in need of assistance.

Is the individual…

  • Often accompanied by a controlling person?
  • Isolated either physically or culturally?
  • Transported to and from work?
  • Unable to leave or come and go as he or she wishes?
  • Unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips?
  • Fearful, anxious, submissive, tense or nervous?

Does the Individual…

  • Have any kind of identification?
  • Have little control over his or her schedule?
  • Have little control over his or her money or other possessions?
  • Owe a large debt to an individual?
  • Lack concrete short or long term plans?
  • Live and work in the same place?
  • Work excessively long and/or unusual hours?
  • Show signs of physical assault including: branding, tattooing, broken bones, malnutrition or other signs of abuse
  • Exhibit submissive or fearful behavior in the presence of others?
  • Have inconsistencies in stories?
  • Lack knowledge about a given community or whereabouts?
  • Date much older, abusive, or controlling men and is a minor?

Do Victims of Trafficking identify themselves as being “Trafficked”? Can’t victims just escape?
Often times, no. Victims of human trafficking may not seek help immediately or on their own volition because they may not self-identify as a trafficking victim. Part of the Trafficker’s control dynamic is often to make the victim feel responsible for their situation and abuse. Victims may also fear law enforcement or may not trust law enforcement because they have been criminalized or abused in the past. Additionally, victims of trafficking may have been told by their traffickers not to speak with or trust authorities or told that they or loved ones will be harmed or deported if they do.