Human Trafficking & Exploitation - survivor shared warning signs
Human Trafficking and Exploitation: Warning Signs & Resources
"Human trafficking” is the broad term that describes the illegal activity to recruit, transport, transfer, hold or receive people by improper means (such as force, abduction, fraud, coercion, deception, repeated provision of a controlled substance) for the purposes of sexual exploitation or forced labour.
In many cases of trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, the person being trafficked may develop “trauma bonds” with their traffickers, and may not see themselves as a victim. This is one reason why sex trafficking is believed to be a vastly underreported crime.
The following are some potential warning signs or indicators of potential; exploitation/human trafficking of children, youth, and adults, as shared by survivors.
- Connecting online with someone in a larger city or urban area who invites them to come visit, or offers to help cover the cost of transportation to draw them from a small town or reserve
- Has a phone gifted from a friend or "boyfriend"
- History of travel between cities in Canada and the US over and over (can indicate being moved around on what is called a "circuit")
- Multiple addresses over a short period of time, indications that they have not chosen to move to those cities by preference
- Seeks out dangerous travel (hitchhiking) and/or frequents isolated truck stops or work camps
- When asked about how they are doing, they are immediately defensive or seem to be reading from a practiced script in their response, or present with flat affect
- Seeming to be unaware of what their schedule is, not having time to meet their regular commitments, such as school, work, and extracurricular activities, poor sleep hygiene
- Indicate that they are escorting or selling sex themselves, but there is evidence (such as not being able to keep all of the money earned) that someone else is in control
- Pornographic images or videos of themselves available online
- Online ads posted mention "no restrictions" and "24/7 available" usually indicate a controller
- Possession of hotel/motel room keys & gym passed, lube, condoms, wipes, and Vanilla visa cards, familiarity with Airbnb
- Their name is signed to multiple leases for cars and apartments
- Gang involvement, involvement in auxiliary criminal activity such as running drugs
- Tattoo branding of a name that is not theirs or a degrading nick name on their neck, wrist, chest, or lower back.
- Drugs and alcohol being offered in exchange for sex
- Unexplainable injuries such as strangulation, bite marks, cigarette burns, intentional knife lacerations, bruising from the neck down, pistol burns
- An age difference between the youth and a boyfriend/partner, or spending time with an older group of friends
- Sudden availability of large sums of money that a youth otherwise would not have access to
- Drug and alcohol use, access to hard drugs that otherwise would be difficult for a youth to access, the offer of free drugs and alcohol from someone else
- Works excessively long and/or unusual hours, no breaks
- Does not have a defined job description
- Working in dangerous conditions (no safety equipment, no workplace hazard training)
- No private living quarters, living in living rooms, barns, restaurants, back rooms, etc.
- Is not free to come and go
- No control over meals or access to food, fed table scraps
- Not allowed to engage with the public, family, or build community, or speak in native tongue
- Is not allowed to speak for themselves when in.public
- Has few personal possessions
- No control over personal finances or essential ID
Sexual & Labour Exploitation:
- Someone speaks on behalf of them to service providers, such as a "friend, employer, or boyfriend"
- Evidence of malnourishment and sleep deprivation over a long period of time
- Lots of flashy belongings (such as purses, clothing, jewelry, figurines & gifts) but no access to essential needs such as feminine hygiene products or food
- Indicate they have a full time or very busy job, but when inquiring into wages, there is little understanding or compensation being given
- Having a phone that is constantly ringing or texting, causing them anxiety if they are unable to answer it, or have multiple phones
- No access to essential ID, or it is held in someone else's possession
- Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off no matter how much they work
- Lack of access to key services (ie: medical, immigration)
The following resources are suggested for further follow up:
THE BC OFFICE TO COMBAT TRAFFICKING IN PERSON'S ONLINE TRAINING FOR SERVICE PROVIDERS
A free, comprehensive training program providing key information to understanding the issue of trafficking, and working with trafficked individuals.
CHILDREN OF THE STREET SOCIETY
Children of the Street Society is a Provincial Society and Federal Charity dedicated to preventing the sexual exploitation and human trafficking of children and youth in British Columbia through education strategies, public awareness initiatives, and family support since 1995. They offer handouts, resources, toolkits for service providers and parents. Website
The Chrysalis Network offers a free, confidential telephone trauma counselling service to women, men, and youth who have been trafficked/exploited for the purposes of commercial sex or forced labour. They also offer ongoing support to sex workers who do not personally identify as trafficked/exploited. We provide our callers with counselling, local referrals and Project Lifeline, a safe buddy system for sex workers operating in isolation. Website
Cybertip is an online resource for resources and reporting potential incidences of online exploitation against children and youth, which connects directly to law enforcement.
The DOOR THAT'S NOT LOCKED
The Door That's Not Locked is an online resource for parents, teachers, and students to access free resources related to online safety and exploitation prevention .
FRASER HEALTH AUTHORITY HELP DON'T HINDER TRAINING FOR HEALTH PROFESSIONALS
A free, online training for health professionals providing the tools to consider, assess, respond, and evaluate trafficked persons accessing emergency health services.
FROM ABUSED AND NEGLECTED TO ABUSED AND EXPLOITED
Article: The Intersection of the child welfare system with commercial sexual exploitation of children. National Centre for Youth Law. 2014. Kate Walker J.D., Fiza Quraishi, J.D.
HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT LABOUR TRAFFICKING DOCUMENTARY
Across Canada documentary looking at the realities of labour trafficking.
INVISIBLE CHAINS, BY PROFESSOR BENJAMIN PERRIN
An excellent, comprehensive legal overview in book form of the current state of human trafficking in Canada. Available for purchase on Amazon.
NATIONAL ONLINE RESOURCES- THE SALVATION ARMY ANTI-HUMAN TRAFFICKING PROGRAM WEBSITE
This section of our website contains free training and resources from across the country to support agencies and communities working with trafficked persons, including videos, online training, and tookits.
NWAC: SUPPORTING INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND GIRLS
The Native Women's Association has developed a resource for understanding and supporting Indigenous girls and women experiencing exploitation.
ONTARIO ASSOCIATION OF CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETIES (OACAS)
Report: When human trafficking involves children and youth who are under 16, it’s a child protection issue. Human trafficking is a form of child abuse. Our job is to step in and protect these girls — and I’ll point out that we’re talking about girls because we haven’t as yet come across any male victims, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. We need to identify and intervene effectively to redirect or rescue kids who are engaged in human trafficking.
THE PALERMO PROTOCOL: TO PREVENT, SUPPRESS, AND PUNISH TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS
This important document was signed by Canada in 2000 and outlines our national commitment to identified victims/survivors of human trafficking
RCMP HUMAN TRAFFICKING NATIONAL COORDINATION CENTRE
A national view from a law enforcement perspective of domestic and international sex trafficking as it relates to Canada. You can contact them for up to date, recent statistics on human trafficking and promotional resources. website
An interactive tool to assist the general public in considering ethical consumerism and our impacts on trafficking throughout the world.