Stay Alert, Stay Safe: How to Recognize the Signs of Sex Trafficking for Young Women

The United States is starting to become more aware of sex trafficking. Sex trafficking can be defined as the illegal practice of transporting a victim from one country or area to another for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Unfortunately, women and young children are the most targeted. Truckers, restaurant workers, gas station personnel, and young women and children can learn to help identify and be aware of possible sex trafficking operations. So, here are some tips on how to recognize the signs of sex trafficking for young women.

How to Recognize the Signs of Sex Trafficking for Young Women 

The Most Vulnerable

While anyone can be a victim of sex trafficking, women and young children are the most vulnerable. People of color and the LGBTQ+ community are also high on the list. Traffickers tend to prey on the most vulnerable in the communities including trauma individuals, runaways, undocumented immigrants, and those who are addicted to alcohol and drugs. For a more extensive list, click here.

Additionally, traffickers can be anyone. Strangers, family members and romantic partners can all be traffickers. They do not belong to any certain ethnic group, age, or gender either.

How They Lure Young Women 

Sex traffickers can lure young women and children in a number of ways. Sometimes, it can be very hard to see and recognize how they target individuals, but the most common ways are:

  • Gaining the trust of the individual. Whether it be through online chat or in-person communication, usually this involves building a "friendship" or "romantic relationship."
  • Forced kidnapping. Drugs are usually used to subdue the victim into sexual exploitation.
  • Threats of violence. Traffickers can be sneaky and obtain personal information on the victim such as documents and photos and use this against the victim to further their threats if they do not cooperate with the abuser.

Even though this is a short list of how they lure victims, there are many more ways in which they are tricked. For a bigger list, click here.

How To Recognize The Signs of Sex Trafficking

While there can be a long list of signs to recognize if someone is a victim of sex trafficking, here are more common signs to look for:

  • The individual is being monitored closely by another person in a public place while interacting with others
  • The individual seems overly fearful or paranoid
  • The attire worn by the individual is overly sexual
  • Individual has physical injuries or branding such as tattoos suggesting money and sex
  • Signs of wealth with no explanation, such as expensive jewelry, clothes, shoes, phones, etc. without any form of income

While these are just a few common red flags to look out for in recognizing sex trafficking, the list is extensive. For a longer list, click here.

What You Can Do To Help Stop Sex Trafficking

Now that you have general ideas of what sex trafficking is and the signs to look out for, there are several ways to combat this horrendous crime. The first step is to understand and be aware of your surroundings. Recognizing the signs and how traffickers lure young women into slavery is important. But here are some other tips on how you can help stop it:

  • Report a tip. If you know someone who has fallen victim, you can reach out to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Additionally, you can call 1-888-373-788 or text HELP to BEFREE (233733), or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • Teach others. Sharing your knowledge with others is powerful. Spreading awareness within the community and surrounding areas is the best way to protect everyone.
  • Volunteer and raise your voice. Volunteering for a local sex trafficking non-profit can help spread the word. Raising your voice and contributing to the fight against trafficking is the best way to help these organizations.

How to recognize the signs of sex trafficking for young women can be hard, but it is important to equip yourself with the necessary knowledge to end these illegal crimes. Children, young women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and minorities are the most targeted. Being aware of your surroundings, where to shop, who you speak with online, and reporting any suspicious behavior to the National Human Trafficking Hotline are the best ways to keep yourself and your community safe. The better prepared everyone is, the more sex trafficking can be halted.

Written by: Maggie

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Friday, 08 December 2023

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