Barriers to Reporting and Help-Seeking

There are many reasons why victims may not seek help from service providers or law enforcement. 

  • Victims may not have legal residency status and fear that if they seek help, they will be reported or deported.
  • Victims may be unaware of service providers, agencies, or resources available to them. 
  • Victims may not identify as being trafficked or may not realize that what is happening is illegal.
  • Victims may lack knowledge about their rights.
  • Victims may fear that they will not be believed or may feel shame or embarrassment about their victimization.
  • Victims may have had negative experiences with law enforcement or service providers in the past.
  • Victims may have substance use problems that make leaving the situation more difficult or make them fear contact with law enforcement or other authorities.
  • Victims may be fearful that the trafficker(s) will harm them or their loved ones if they seek help.
  • Victims may have limited English proficiency.
  • Victims may have significant cultural differences.
  • Victims may have disabilities that make help-seeking more difficult.
  • Victims may be physically isolated and/or guarded by the trafficker(s).
  • Victims may feel that they cannot survive economically without their trafficker.
  • Victims may feel a sense of loyalty toward their trafficker.

I didn’t tell anyone. I kept it to myself until I got a call from the FBI that he’d been arrested for something else and asked would I talk. Having to go face everything and realize how serious everything was. For the longest time I didn’t even think it was that serious.

"Laura" 21 from

do you know the potential indicators and red flags of human trafficking?

As a service provider, it is important that you can recognize the potential indicators and red flags that a victim may display to initiate their pathway to safety so that you can help them seek safety.