Leaving a trafficker can not only be difficult, it can also be unsafe. Call 9-1-1 immediately. There is no way of knowing how the trafficker may react and retaliate. If, however, you have escaped, we can help. Survivors are encouraged to call our Hotlines or LiveChat with us for assistance.

Domestic Violence Hotline: (713) 528-2121
Sexual Assault Hotline: (713) 528-RAPE (7273)

Learn more about Sex Trafficking here.

Traffickers use a variety of psychologically and physically coercive techniques to trap their victims in plain sight.

Creating Dependency

One of the first things that most traffickers do is to take the passports or official documentation from their victims. They often limit or block all communication with friends and loved ones and keep any earnings for themselves. This renders victims of trafficking completely dependent on their abusers with their chances of escape significantly diminished from the outset.

Unfamiliar Places

Many victims are trafficked away from their cities and countries of origin, and into cultures that are unfamiliar to them. Traffickers capitalize on their victims’ unfamiliarity with their new surroundings by instilling the fear of the unknown into their victims. They tell them that the local authorities don’t care about them and besides, who would they talk to if they don’t speak the language? Some victims of enforced sex work are also told that all prostitution is illegal. This stops them seeking help from the authorities and escaping from a life of exploitation.The reality for many victims of trafficking is that the fear of being alone in an unfamiliar place and at risk of arrest, is less appealing than remaining trapped in slavery.

Inside Observers

As well as the myriad ways in which traffickers ensnare their victims, they often recruit one of them to watch over the rest of the group to ensure escape is not discussed or attempted. By doing this, traffickers rupture relations between their victims by spreading mistrust and fear. This person often lives with the group of trafficking victims, meaning that they can keep watch all hours of the day.

Violence and Threats

Aside from the invisible chains that entangle its victims, the physical signs of trafficking are unmistakable too. Victims of trafficking are often subjected to violence and abuse, ensuring that they continue to abide by the terms set out by their abusers. Additionally, traffickers frequently threaten to harm the loved ones of their victims if their demands are not met.

Victims of traffickers do not have the option to hand in their notice or resign, they are physically and mentally trapped in slavery with extremely limited options of freedom on their horizons. At HAWC, we aim to increase the horizons of those who have been trafficked, freeing more and more people from the shackles of exploitation.

→  Identify and Assist a Trafficking Victim – United States Department of State

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