Human trafficking basics

What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, in which traffickers manipulate and force victims to provide labor or engage in commercial sex acts. Traffickers are motivated by high profits, and will target any individuals whom they perceive as vulnerable. Victims can be U.S. citizens, non-citizens with or without legal status, men, women, boys or girls. Victims of trafficking can be from any social or economic status, educational background, race, culture, gender or age.

Traffickers threaten, lie, and bully victims to prevent them from escaping, and outsiders from recognizing the exploitation. They actively work to create a climate of fear and self-doubt in the victim. Many times, traffickers simultaneously lead the victims to believe that they will be worse off if they leave their situation, or that their situation may improve in the future if they stay.

While a number of victims are extracted from the trafficking situation by law enforcement, a significant portion of them leave or escape their situations on their own. This feat is a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.

Learn more about human trafficking.

Know the crime. Know the signs.

Human trafficking is a crime at federal and many state levels in the U.S. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 defined the crime of human trafficking on the federal level.

If we told you that modern-day slavery is happening on mainstreet, would you know the signs? Visit the National Human Trafficking Resource Center and see a list of red flags and indicators to help you recognize a potential human trafficking situation.

If you encounter anyone who you believe may be a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888 or Text: BeFree (233733).

Myths & Facts

Myth

Human trafficking only happens in foreign countries.

Fact

Human trafficking happens in the U.S. as well as foreign countries. Victims in the U.S. include U.S. Citizens, and non-citizens, with or without legal status.


Myth

Human trafficking is just sex trafficking.

Fact

Human trafficking refers to both labor and sex trafficking. In fact, the majority of our clients are survivors of labor trafficking.


Myth

Human trafficking only occurs in illegal industries such as drug trafficking and the sex trade.

Fact

Many instances of trafficking occur in legal industries, such as agriculture, domestic work, and even education. In fact, many of our clients received valid visas to work in legal industries in the U.S. before they were trafficked.


Myth

Only women are trafficked for sex.

Fact

Men and boys are also trafficked into commercial sex. As more male sex trafficking survivors come forward, the anti-trafficking movement is learning more about how to identify and serve these individuals. We have served male, female, and transgender clients, both minors and adults.


Myth

Human trafficking always involves movement of the victim, usually across borders.

Fact

Trafficking does not require movement. In fact, victims can be trafficked out of their own homes. Some of our clients were brought to the U.S. by their traffickers, and others were already in the U.S. when they were trafficked.