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Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs
Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Trafficking Victims
Identifying and Helping Trafficking Victims

Identifying and Helping Trafficking Victims

What Should You Do If You Are a Victim of Trafficking and Need Help or if You Suspect That Someone has been Trafficked?

Sexual and labor exploitation are against the law in the United States. Federal laws prohibit slavery. Victims can ask for help, regardless of immigration status, using this hotline number: 1-888-373-7888.

Signs That Someone Might Be a Trafficking Victim

As governments, law enforcement, relief or health workers, and NGOs work to combat human trafficking, it is essential to properly screen for victims of human trafficking.

The screening process begins with an assessment of indicators that can be evaluated before interviewing an individual. The Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) "Look Beneath the Surface" anti-trafficking public awareness campaign recommends that the following indicators can flag potential victims:

  • Evidence of being controlled, evidence of inability to move or leave job;
  • Bruises or other signs of physical abuse;
  • Fear or depression;
  • Not speaking on own behalf and/or not speaking local language; or
  • No passport or other forms of identification or documentation.

If one or more of these indicators is present, the interviewer should pursue questions that will help identify the key elements of a trafficking scenario. HHS recommends the following questions:

  • Why type of work do you do?
  • Are you being paid?
  • Can you leave your job if you want to?
  • Can you come and go as you please?
  • Have you or your family been threatened?
  • What are your working and living conditions like?
  • Where do you sleep and eat?
  • Do you have to ask permission to eat/sleep/go to the bathroom?
  • Are there locks on your doors/windows so you cannot get out?
  • Has your identification or documentation been taken from you?

By looking beneath the surface, a life might be saved.

Fact Sheet: How Can I Recognize Trafficking Victims?

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