Quick Guide to Victim Identification
There are some indicators which raise a red flag that a person may be a victim of human trafficking. You may want to take a second look at a situation in which a person:
- Is under the age of 18 and is involved, in any way, in the commercial sex industry
- Has visible signs of abuse: unexplained bruises, black eyes, cuts, or marks
- Exhibits behaviors of fear, anxiety, depression, or paranoia
- Expresses interest in, or is in relationship with, adults
- Shows evidence of controlling relationships
- Uses language from “the life” (i.e. referring to a boyfriend as Daddy)
- Has a tattoo that he or she is reluctant to explain
- Has untreated illnesses or infections, particularly sexually transmitted diseases
- Is not in control of own money or identification
- Displays secrecy of whereabouts
- Keeps unusual hours
- Wears new clothes, gets hair/nails done, possesses new material goods with no financial means to obtain these independently
- Is truant or tardy from school
If you think that you may have encountered a victim of human trafficking in the Chicago area, please call the Salvation Army’s STOP-IT program at (877)606.3158. An outreach worker can provide further consultation and assistance for the victim.
Questions to Consider
The following observations can help you identify victims:
- Is the potential victim accompanied by another person who seems controlling?
- Does the person accompanying the potential victim insist on giving information to providers?
- Can you see or detect any physical abuse?
- Does the potential victim seem submissive or fearful?
- Does the potential victim have difficulty communicating because of language or cultural barriers?
- Does the potential victim have any identification?
For Foreign Nationals:
- Upon arrival in the U.S. did someone ask you to pay back a debt?
- Are you doing what you were told you would be doing in the U.S.?
- It is important to talk to potential victims in a safe and confidential environment. If the victim is accompanied by someone who seems to have control over them, discretely attempt to separate the person from the individual accompanying him/her since this person could be the trafficker.
- If translation is needed, use a trusted interpreter. DO NOT use someone who has accompanied the suspected victim or someone who is conveniently waiting in the lobby.
- Do not collect more information than you need! In depth interviews with potential victims should be conducted by mental health professionals, law enforcement professionals or legal experts.
- Do not make promises that you cannot keep. Do not promise that someone will make everything better. And do not feel the need to “rescue” victims on your own.