Signs of human trafficking

Human trafficking can affect anyone of any age, race, gender or income, and it can be difficult to identify unless you know what to look for. Victims of human sex trafficking are often young people who are dressed in a way that makes you look twice. They may be truant, use illegal substances and have multiple STIs with frequent visits to the emergency department. Typically, they don’t speak for themselves, nor do they carry their own documentation. They often lack close, healthy adult relationships as well. Learn more about the signs and signals of human trafficking.

Signs of human trafficking

Often considered a “hidden crime,” human trafficking is a complex problem without many physical signs. To help prevent and put an end to the human violations, it is important for everyone in the community to keep an eye out, raise awareness and report suspicions. The following are some of the most common signs of human trafficking, but this is not a comprehensive list. If another red flag gives you cause for concern, don’t hesitate to submit a tip.

An individual might be a victim of human trafficking if they:

  • Are not permitted to speak for themselves
  • Have frequent trips to the emergency department
  • Appear brutally beaten with physical injuries, such as broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, genital tears or bite marks
  • Are not free to come and go as they please
  • Avoid eye contact and seem nervous, paranoid and submissive
  • Do not have an ID, passport, bank account or other personal information
  • Entered their line of work through coercion, false promises or physical force
  • Give vague answers about where they live and who they spend time with
  • Go to work each day in dangerous, unfit conditions
  • Have had multiple pregnancies or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at a young age
  • Have unusual tattoos of logos or barcodes, sometimes with misspelled words
  • Lie and cover up false stories
  • Receive little to no pay for their work
  • Show signs of torture, abuse and forced restraint
  • Work in the commercial sex industry with a “boyfriend”, “pimp” or “daddy”
  • Are buried in large debts they can’t pay off
  • Are expected to work long hours without breaks
  • Appear malnourished or in a bad medical state


Who is at risk?

Anyone can be affected by human trafficking. It happens all over the world and right here in Stark County. Often these violations are right in front of us – at nail salons, massage parlors, strip malls and sporting events – and we don’t recognize it. Victims can be anyone from a young person who is coerced by an adult they trust to a runaway teen. Other vulnerable populations include individuals in the LGBTQ+ community and dancers at local strip clubs.