What’s red flag mean?
The term “red flag” means you see something that’s a reason to stop and consider your safety. There are red flags for lots of things – depression, dating violence, suicide – and seeing one or two red flags doesn’t necessarily mean that something is happening to you, it simply lets you know that you should probably step back and take another look at the situation.
When we are talking about human trafficking, red flags often occur in relationships with other people. This can be a relationship with an employer, a family member, a friend, a romantic partner, or another person.
Watch out for yourself.
There are red flags related to all kinds of situations. Of a toxic friendship. Of a draining relationship. Of an employer who isn’t respecting you. But when someone takes advantage of your vulnerability and profits off of that, that is trafficking and exploitation. Here are a few red flags to watch out for…
A few red flags of online exploitation:
- Requests for pics or videos that are private.
- One sided conversations, like someone not sharing about themselves while you have been oversharing in text or dm’s
- Someone threatening you or blackmailing you to do things – when someone does that with images or video of you, it’s called sextortion
A few red flags of labor trafficking:
- Threats or abuse from employer
- Unable to quit your job or go home
- Withholding payment, not allowed to see or be in control of your paychecks or taking money out of your paycheck
A few red flags of sex trafficking
- Asking you to keep secrets or telling you not to tell anyone what they did to you or what they had you do for them – or that you talk to them or what yall talk about
- Keeping you isolated away from your friends and family
- Manipulating you with strings attached, like making you do sexual acts in return for something
Trust your gut.
There are more red flags than these – there’s no complete list of ALL red flags for every scenario. The most important thing is to trust your gut. You may recognize a red flag because your gut is telling you something isn’t right. When you feel that, listen. That could feel like…
- Feeling uncomfortable about a conversation, something shared, or something being asked of you
- Second guessing or questioning someone’s intentions
- Knowing someone is lying to you
- Not feeling safe
If you feel any of these things, take a step back, and talk to someone you trust to get their perspective or support.
Watch out for others.
Here are some red flags of child trafficking and exploitation to watch out for in others:
- Not free to leave or come and go as they wish
- Under 18 and engaged in commercial sex
- Unpaid, paid little, or paid only through tips
- Has experienced violence at work
- Not allowed breaks and has unusual restrictions at work
- Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
- Was recruited through false promises
- Has few or no personal possessions
- Not in control of their own money
- Not in control of their own ID documents
- Not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)
- Is fearful, anxious, depressed, tense, nervous, or paranoid when discussing work
- Lack of knowledge of whereabouts
- Loss of sense of time
- Has many inconsistencies in their story
- Appears malnourished
- Shows signs of physical or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
Remind me: What is trafficking?
Labor trafficking is recruiting, moving, or placing individuals in exchanges of bonded labor or involuntary servitude via force, fraud, or coercion. In situations of bonded labor, an individual’s release is contingent on payment, but payment is unattainable. In cases of involuntary servitude, the person believes that they or another person will suffer serious harm or legal consequences if they don’t work.
Sex trafficking is defined by the exchange of a sexual act for something of value through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. For children (under 18), any sexual act in exchange for something of value (like money or basic needs) can be considered sex trafficking.
Ok, what do I do when someone is being exploited?
If you suspect the trafficking or exploitation of children, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at
1-888-373-7888, or text “help” or “info” to befree (233733). 24/7, confidential & interpreters available.
In case of immediate danger, call 911.