Human trafficking is a large and complicated world problem that can affect a single person or a large group of people; but no matter the type of trafficking certain signs are always apparent. Below are a list of common signs of a trafficked person that could help you distinguish if your friend is being trafficked.

1. Not free to go as he/she wishes

If your friend is constantly acting like they are being watched, no longer goes to places they used to or has a drastically changed their habits these can be warning signs that your friend is being trafficked.

2. Is fearful, anxious, depressed

If a person is being constantly controlled by another person they may exhibit signs of being fearful, withdrawn or anxious.

3. Signs of not eating enough or physical abuse

Physical abuse such as bruises or other marks on a person or not eating, and dropping significant amounts of weight are other signs that a person may be being trafficked.

4. Unable to say where he/she has been staying or have unexplained absences

A person who is being trafficked often will not be able to tell you where they are staying or where they have been. They may claim it is a secret or that the person asking doesn't need to know.

5. New tattoo

Pimps often tattoo, sometimes with a bar code or the word "Daddy", or brand the people they traffic as a way to claim the person as their "property".

Obviously, getting a tattoo or being depressed alone may not be a sign of human trafficking. But, if your friend shows some of the signs above and you are concerned about them try talk to them and if that doesn't work talk to a trusted adult or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1(888) 373-7888 to decide what you should do next.


 “7 Ways to Spot that Someone is Being Trafficked.” CNN, 5 Aug. 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/30/travel/human-trafficking-at-airports/. Accessed 6 Jan. 2016.

“At Risk Warning Signs for Child Sex Trafficking.” Thorn, 13 June 2014, https://www.wearethorn.org/blog/risk-warning-signs-for-child-sex-trafficking/. Accessed 6 Jan. 2016. 

“Recognize the Signs.” Polaris, https://polarisproject.org/recognize-signs. Accessed 6 Jan. 2016.

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