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What to Do If You Suspect Human Trafficking

May 23, 2024
By Rhine Law Firm, P.C.

Human trafficking is a $150 billion industry—the second most profitable illegal industry in the U.S. It is infamous for preying on the vulnerable, especially women and children, and operating in the shadows of society.

7 out of every 10 victims are female. However, with an estimated 27.6 million victims worldwide at any given time, human traffickers prey on people of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities, exploiting them for their own profit (U.S. Department of State). There are several types of human trafficking, including sex trafficking, labor trafficking, and child trafficking, each with its own devastating consequences for victims.

Finding yourself in a situation where you suspect human trafficking can be distressing, but knowing the proper steps to take is crucial for ensuring the safety of everyone involved.

Recognize the Signs

Identifying the signs of human trafficking is the first step in combatting this pervasive crime. Look out for indicators such as:

  • Individuals who appear fearful, submissive, or controlled by others.
  • Signs of physical abuse, malnourishment, or untreated medical conditions.
  • Lack of personal identification documents or control over personal finances.
  • Working excessively long hours with little or no pay.
  • Those who are unable to leave a job or move freely.
  • Restricted or monitored communication with others, including family and friends.
  • Living and working in poor or unsanitary conditions.

Victims often live in fear of both their abusers and law enforcement, and the severe trauma they endure can make it incredibly challenging for them to seek help or assistance. If you believe an individual is showing signs of being a victim, do not wait to reach out to our experienced team of human trafficking and sex abuse attorneys.

What to Do When Faced with Suspicions of Human Trafficking

When faced with suspicions of human trafficking, it is imperative to take decisive steps to assist potential victims and apprehend perpetrators:

  • Contact Law Enforcement: If you believe someone is in immediate danger, call 911 for help. Report your suspicions to your local police department. Provide detailed information, including the location, descriptions of individuals involved, and any observed trafficking activity. When in doubt, it is better to err on the side of caution and let the authorities assess the situation rather than risk someone’s safety by remaining silent.
  • Do Not Confront Traffickers: Human traffickers can be dangerous individuals, and direct confrontation may escalate the situation. Instead, prioritize the safety of potential victims and allow trained professionals to handle the intervention.
  • Document Your Observations: Document everything you saw, be thorough and specific, noting details such as who and how many individuals were involved, their behavior, genders, time and location, and reasons for your suspicions. This information can aid law enforcement in their investigations.
  • Offer Support to Victims: If it is safe to do so, approach potential victims with empathy and support. If a victim directly seeks assistance, swiftly ensure their safety by moving them to a secure location away from the trafficker. Then, call law enforcement right away to report the situation and ensure the victim receives proper care.

In times of crisis, swift and informed action is critical. If you suspect human trafficking, remember these steps to assist potential victims and aid law enforcement efforts. And always remember, the National Human Trafficking Hotline is available 24/7 for confidential support and resources: call 1-888-373-7888 or text “HELP” to 233733 (BEFREE).

Contact a Human Trafficking Lawyer for Assistance

By familiarizing yourself with the signs of trafficking and knowing how to take action, you can play a vital role in protecting vulnerable individuals and holding perpetrators accountable. Though no amount of money can fully remedy the devastating impact of human trafficking, it can offer the necessary support to rebuild and save lives. Legal avenues exist for victims to seek justice, including pursuing civil action against all involved parties, i.e. traffickers and those who knowingly benefited.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of human trafficking, please do not hesitate to reach out to a personal injury attorney at Rhine Law Firm. Our attorneys work to preserve your anonymity while ensuring you receive the resources and help you need.

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