Safety Tips when Leaving a Human Trafficking Situation
In some cases, leaving or attempting to leave a trafficking situation may increase the risk of violence. It is important to trust your judgment when taking steps to ensure your safety.
If you are ever in immediate danger, the quickest way to access help is to call 9-1-1.
If you are unsure of your current location, try to determine any indication of your locality such as street signs outside the residence or place of employment, or newspapers/magazines/mail that may have the address listed.
If it is safe to go outside, see if the address is listed anywhere on the building.
If there are people nearby and it is safe to speak with them, ask them about your current location.
Plan an escape route or exit strategy and rehearse it
Keep any important documents on or near you to be ready for immediate departure.
Prepare a bag with any important documents/items and a change of clothes.
Keep a written copy of important numbers on you at all times in case your phone is taken or destroyed at any point. Memorize important numbers/hotlines
Think about your next steps after you leave the situation.
Contact trusted friends or relatives to notify them or to ask for assistance if you feel comfortable.
Contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline 24-hour hotline at 1-888-3737-888 to obtain local referrals for shelter or other social services and support. The Hotline can also connect you with specialized law enforcement referrals. However, if you are ever in immediate danger, contact 9-1-1 first.
During violent or explosive situations avoid dangerous rooms
Examples of Dangerous Rooms: kitchen (knives, sharp utensils, pots), garage (tools, sharp objects), bathroom (hard surfaces, no exits), basement (hard surfaces, no exits), rooms where weapons are kept and rooms without an exit.
Examples of Safer Rooms: front room, yard or apartment hallway where a neighbor might see or hear an incident.
Develop a special signal (lights flickering on and off, code word, code text message, hand signal, etc.) to use with a trusted neighbor, relative, friend or service provider to notify them that you are in danger.
It is important to proactively communicate what action steps you would like taken (call 9-1-1, check-in, pick the children up, etc.).
If you have children who are also in the trafficking situation, explain to them that it isn’t their responsibility to protect you, and make sure that they know how to call someone for help, where to hide during a violent incident, and practice your plan of departure with them.
General Safety Tips
Trust your judgment. If a situation/individual makes you uncomfortable, trust that feeling.
Let a trusted friend or relative know if you feel like you are in danger or if a person or situation is suspicious.
If possible, set up safety words with a trusted friend/relative.
One word can mean that it is safe to talk and you are alone.
A separate word can mean you are not safe.
It is also important to communicate what you would like done (cease communication immediately, call 9-1-1, meet somewhere to pick you up, etc.).
Keep all important documents and identification in your possession at all times. Your partner/employer does not have the right to take or hold your documents without your permission.
Keep important numbers on your person at all times, including the number of someone you feel safe contacting if you are in trouble.
Make sure that you have a means of communication (cell phone or phone card), access to your bank account, and any medication that you might need with you at all times.
If you think you might be in immediate danger or you are experiencing an emergency, contact 9-1-1 first.
Potential Red Flags for Human Trafficking Situations
The following scenarios might be red flags for relationships or jobs that may develop into human trafficking. One or more of these may indicate that an individual is at-risk for sex or labor trafficking. This list is not exhaustive.
The Intimate Partner or Employer:
Comes on very strongly and promises things that seem too good to be true – i.e. promises extremely high wages for easy work.
Expects that you will agree to the employment or relationship on the spot, and threatens that otherwise the opportunity will be lost.
Is unclear about the terms of employment, location of employment and/or the company details/credentials.
Partner/employer denies access to information about your rights.
Denies contact with friends or family or attempts to isolate you from your social network.
Constantly checks on you and does not allow you access to your money.
Asks you to do things outside of your comfort zone such as performing sexual favors for friends.
Displays signs/characteristics of a dangerous person including: attempts to control movement and behaviors, exhibits jealousy, lashes out or delivers punishment in response to noncompliance, is verbally/emotionally/physically abusive.
Uses threats or displays of violence to create a culture of fear.