Human trafficking: recognizing the signs

Danielle Ferguson

Human trafficking is the use of violence, threats, fraud or coercion to force men, women and children into commercial sex or perform any commercial labor against their will.

Victims of human trafficking can be hard to find, but Polaris Project released a few tips for people to keep an eye out for potential signs if someone has fallen victim to trafficking. 

Call Polaris Hotline if you see a person who:

  • is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, timid or nervous and paranoid
  • exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
  • constantly avoids eye contact
  • lacks poor physical health upkeep
  • appears malnourished
  • shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement or torture
  • has few possessions
  • does not have control of his or her personal IDs
  • has an inconsistent personal story
  • lack of knowledge or whereabouts

“Look for the absence of normal. If something does not look right, call,” said Terry Hernandez, executive director for the Chrysalis Foundation, a women’s foundation in Des Moines. “What we hear from law enforcement is, ‘we would much rather you be wrong, than have us miss a case.’”

Polaris Project Hotline: