Signs of Commercial Sexual Exploitation

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Trafficking Indicators

Due to their extremely high level of fear and the trauma bonds many of them have established with their abusers, victims of commercial sexual exploitation rarely say that they are being exploited or ask for help.  They will often avoid law enforcement, and since their pimps may be watching them, they usually refuse offers of help. While every situation is different, some indicators of sex trafficking may include:

  • Excess amount of cash or unidentifiable source of income
  • Unexplained source of new clothing, jewelry, etc.
  • Hotel room keys
  • Chronic ditching of school, unexplained absences
  • Chronic runaway/homelessness
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Signs of branding, tattoos with male names
  • Lying about age/false identification
  • Inconsistencies in story
  • Lack of knowledge of a given community or whereabouts
  • Presence of an overly controlling and abusive “boyfriend”
  • Inability or fear to make eye contact
  • Paranoia, lack of trust
  • Signs of physical abuse or malnourishment
  • Untreated health/dental problems
  • Restricted/scripted communication
  • Self blame, feelings of shame and humiliation
  • Claims of being an adult although appearance suggests adolescent features

Click on the image to the right to download your own card to fold and keep in your wallet to help identify potential trafficking situations: