There is no rulebook when it comes to human trafficking. Victims may be of any sex, age, ethnicity, or social status.
Look for evidence of physical abuse
Bruises, cuts, and burn marks may be clues that the victim has been hurt by their captor. These marks are especially telling when found around the wristws, ankles, arms, and neck, as they suggest that the victim has been controlled or restrained by force. An isolated bump or cut might just be an acciden – multiple injuries grouped in the same area can ;point to a much more wserious cause.
You might feel pretty scared if you have reason to think you’ve come into contact with a victim of human trafficking, but by being alert and attentive, you have the potential to help save a life.
Take note of ill-fitting or inappropriate clothing.
The garments worn by the suspected victim may be too big or small for them, or seem overtly sexual. This is often because they’ve been given to them by the traffickers. Mismatched accessories like scarves, long sleeves, and sunglasses may also be used to make the victim unrecognizable or hide signs of abuse.
Check for tattoos of bar codes or men’s names.
Traffickers often use tattoos to mark their property. A bar code symbol or dollar sign may indicate a victim who is to be bought, sold, or traded. On victims of sex trafficking, these brands may take the form of a specific man’s name or a masculine nickname like “daddy.”
Try to pick up on anxious or timid behavior.
Trafficking victims may seem to be in a hurry to get somewhere or shut down attempts at conversation. They’re often reluctant to make eye contact when spoken to, or they might look around nervously. In some cases, they’ll ignore others around them or avoid communication altogether.
Observe the person’s reaction to law enforcement.
If they look away, get up to leave, or try to make themselves incognito when there’s a police officer or security guard nearby, they may be worried about being noticed. For the same reason, they’ll also tend to avoid places where police can be found in large numbers, such as crowded streets and public events.
Watch for the outward effects of drugs or alcohol.
See whether the suspected victim appears to be in control of their movements. A person who’s been drugged may sway, stumble, or lack coordination performing basic tasks. At worst, they might have a hard time holding their head up or keeping their eyes open.
Be aware of the presence of a controlling figure.
Traffickers don’t typically let their victims out of their sight. Search the area for another person who seems to be leading the victim or telling them what to do. This person may be male or female, but in most cases they’ll be noticeably older.
Dial your country’s emergency response number and inform the dispatcher that you believe you’ve encountered a victim of human trafficking. Specify your location and the exact signs or behaviors that made you suspicious. Your local law enforcement agency will send out an officer to assess the situation. They may also relay your report to another agency that specializes in kidnapping and human trafficking offenses.
Seek help from the staff at an airport or bus station
If you get a bad feeling while traveling, head directly to the customer service office and tell the person in charge about what you’ve seen. They’ll alert the authorities, and may even be able to delay the flight or trip in order to help detain the suspected trafficker.
Contact a human trafficking organization
If the victim has moved on or isn’t in immediate danger:
Groups like these provide emergency aid and other resources for victims of trafficking and people who are courageous enough report the crimes they uncover.
Human trafficking can happen anywhere, not just in big cities. You’ll only notice the crime if you’re looking for it.
Trafficking victims frequently pass-through