Addressing communication needs in service provision

Introduction to Human Trafficking
Understanding the Basics

General Indicators of Human Trafficking

There are a wide variety of indicators of human trafficking. Some of these signs are similar to signs of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, and others are unique to human trafficking. Knowing the signs of human trafficking will allow you to better identify potential victims. Below is a list of possible indicators.

Indicators of Human Trafficking

Explore the possible indicators by selecting the arrows.

Physical Indicators

  • Lack of basic medical care
  • Brands, tattoos, and/or piercings
  • Bruises, cuts, scrapes, and/or burns
  • Often tired or lethargic
  • Frequent sexually transmitted diseases/ infections

Behavioral Indicators

  • Avoids eye contact
  • Erratic, defensive, aggressive, or
    defiant behavior
  • Appears depressed, withdrawn,
    fearful, timid, submissive, and/or
  • Uses language like “john,” “trick,”,
    “the game”
  • Increase in drug or alcohol use
  • Signs of self-harm
  • Signs of eating disorders

Social-Environmental Indicators

  • Age-inappropriate boyfriend or
  • Presence of another person who
    seems controlling or insists on
    speaking for them
  • Restricted or scripted
  • Does not control their own
  • Works long hours and/or works
    under poor conditions
  • Sudden change in friends, dress,
    and/or appearance

Academic Indicators

  • Frequent absences from school
  • Is academically unengaged, is unable to focus, and/or has failing
  • Sudden change in friend group at


  • Shame, self-blame, guilt, and low selfesteem
  • Gaps in memory or inconsistencies in
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Depression and/or anxiety disorders
  • Appears unaware of date, time, or
    physical location
  • Has advanced sexual knowledge for
    their age

Financial or Legal

  • Does not have control over their own
    money, financial record, or bank
  • Possesses large amounts of cash
  • Debt to their employer
  • Receives little to no pay for their work
  • Does not have control over their
    personal documents (e.g., passport,
    driver’s license, visa)
  • Multiple arrests for prostitution,
    shoplifting, or panhandling


  • Possession of large amounts of cash
  • Possession of hotel keys
  • Possession of false identification or
    lies about age
  • Possession of items or clothing they
    previously would not have been
    able to afford


watch for signs of human trafficking

Remember that victims may not always speak out for fear they will suffer consequences from the traffickers. We can help improve others to be able ability to report human trafficking by bringing awareness to this crime including the increasing awareness of human trafficking and its indicators and red flags.

Watch some potential scenarios of human trafficking in the next video and ask yourself if you would notice the signs they display.