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Human Trafficking: What is it and what to look out for?

Human Trafficking is the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain, as described by The Department of Homeland Security. There are various forms of trafficking that exist around the world, but the most common are forced labor and sex trafficking. Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked in countries around the world, and it is estimated that human trafficking generates many billions of dollars per year, second only to drug trafficking.



This criminal act could be happening right next door and you would have no idea. While it is true that traffickers may forcibly kidnap their victim, this is not the most common case. Traffickers will use force, fraud or coercion to manipulate and establish control over individuals. They look for people who are susceptible for a variety of reasons including psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, lack of social safety net, natural disasters, or political instability. According to The Schapiro Group, which conducted research on prostitution and sexual exploitation, 65 percent of men who purchase sex with female children in metro Atlanta live in suburban areas. Also, anyone can be a trafficker. Traffickers can work alone or be part of a large-scale network, and frequently, they will be someone the victim knows on a personal basis, such as a family member, friend, or a romantic partner. 

Human trafficking is a hidden crime as victims rarely come forward to seek help due to fear. Also, there are many myths and misconceptions about human trafficking, that make it difficult to help identify these victims. According to the Human Trafficking Search organization, indicators for someone being trafficked include:

·         Showing signs of physical abuse or injury

·         Are accompanied everywhere by someone who speaks for them

·         Appear to be fearful or under the control of another person

·         Have health issues they have not attended to

·         Work excessively long hours

·         Forced to work under certain conditions

·         Own expensive things they normally would not

·         Unable to freely contact friends or family


Not all indicators listed are present in every case, and the presence or absence of any is not proof of human trafficking. The safety of the public and the victim are paramount and attempting to confront a suspected trafficker or alerting the victim directly should be left to law enforcement.

The trauma that these victims face can be so great that they might not see themselves as victims, if you know anyone who is struggling with the effects of human trafficking contact our office at 706.861.0929 or our 24/7 local crisis line at 706.419.8775. To report any human trafficking or to get connected with resources contact the national human trafficking line at 1.888.373.7888 or text BEFREE (233733).

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