Human Trafficking: Facts, Signs and Resources

Yesterday, staff at the Prosecutor’s Office participated in #WearBlueDay in recognition of human trafficking awareness.

Human trafficking is not just an an urban problem or a problem primarily affecting foreigners.  It is the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry producing over $150 billion dollars per year.  In fact, there are more than 100 human trafficking reports made in the State of Indiana every year.  According to a 2016 report by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, one victim services agency in Indiana served 178 victims of human trafficking.Victims of human trafficking can be individuals of any age, ethnicity, or social/economic status.  Victims often have been in contact with other people who could have helped but didn’t realize the person was a human trafficking victim.

There are generally two types of human trafficking:
1) Sex Trafficking:  when a person used in commercial sex is under the age of 18; or, a person is used in commercial sex through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.
2) Labor Trafficking:  when a person is recruited to work or provide services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.

Commercial sex fuels trafficking of children.

  • 2-14 years old is the average age U.S. children are first used in commercial sex.
  • Between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away each year; in 2014, 1 in 6 runaways were likely sex trafficking victims, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Commercial sex is violent and abusive.

  • 34 is the average age of death for those used in commercial sex;
  • Homicide is the highest cause of death.
  • Not all human trafficking victims are foreign born.  83% of sex trafficking victims in the U.S. are U.S. citizens.

So, it is vitally important to familiarize ourselves with the warning signs of trafficking and know where to get help if we come into contact with someone we suspect might be a victim of human trafficking.  Below are some red flag indicators of trafficking and contact information on where to report suspected trafficking.

Human Trafficking “Red Flags”
Source:  Indianapolis Protection of Abused and Trafficked Humans (IPATH) and the Indiana Attorney General’s Office
The following is a list of red flags to look for in a potential situation of or a victim of human trafficking. Taken individually, each
indicator may not be deterministic of trafficking and nor is this list meant to be exhaustive. If you come in contact with anyone
exhibiting one or more of the following indicators, they may be a victim of human trafficking.
Common Work and Living Conditions
  • Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
  • Is under 18 years of age and is providing commercial sex acts
  • Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp/manager
  • Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
  • Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
  • Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
  • Owes a large and/or increasing debt and is unable to pay it off
  • Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
  • Is living or working in the same location and/or with high security measures (e.g. opaque or boarded-up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.).

Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior

  • Exhibits unusually fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid behavior
  • Reacts with unusually fearful or anxious behavior at any reference to “law enforcement,” and/or no emotion at all (flat affect)
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Poor Physical Health
  • Exhibits unexplained injuries or signs of prolonged/untreated illness or disease
  • Appears malnourished
  • Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
Lack of Control
  • Has few or no personal possessions
  • Is not in control of his/her own money and/or has no financial records or bank account
  • Is not allowed or able to speak for him/herself (e.g., a third party may insist on being present and/or interpreting )
  • Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (e.g. ID, passport, or visa)
  • Has been “branded” by a trafficker (e.g. a tattoo of the trafficker’s name/symbol)
  • Exhibits a lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or does not know what city he/she is in
  • Exhibits a loss of a sense of time
  • Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story and/or has a scripted response

Additional Resources
Find additional information and resources by following this link: