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Millions of men, women, and children are victimized and/or trafficked every year within the United States and countries around the world. Victims rarely seek help due to the fear instilled by their trafficker by means of threats, isolation, and punishment. They also evade law enforcement in fear of being arrested or deported, depending on their immigration status.

Human trafficking is the illegal exploitation of an individual who is bought and sold like modern-day slavery. Traffickers use violence, manipulation, or false promises of well-paying jobs or romantic relationships to exploit their vulnerable victims; some of which work in prostitution, escorting, and receive little to no pay. Human trafficking has no boundaries and may include U.S. citizens, U.S. residents, and foreign nationals.

Elements of Human Trafficking

Compelling or coercing a person’s labor, services, or commercial sex acts, and often involves the use of force, fraud, and/or coercion to compel victims to engage in such labor or services.

Force, Fraud, and/or Coercion:
  • U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or foreign nationals brought to the United States
  • Individual recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, advertised, maintained, patronized, or solicited
  • In or affecting Interstate Commerce—Do not need to cross state lines
  • To engage in a commercial sex act (in exchange for monetary or other non-monetary gain)
Knowingly that:
  • Means of force, fraud, or coercion used to engage in act—or
  • Individual had not attained the age of 18 (or reckless disregard of that fact)
Types of Human Trafficking

Sex Trafficking:

The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act. – Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000  
  • Affects every region of the world, occurs everywhere, and can happen anywhere
  • Victims include all races, backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientations, genders, U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens, and can come from any income level
  • Victims do not have to be physically transported between locations
  • Traffickers often know their victims and build a relationship over time
Forced Labor:

Forced or compulsory labor is modern-day slavery, and is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion; For the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.
  • Captures labor and sexual exploitation
  • Victims include all races, genders, and sometimes targeted on economic statuses
  • Recruited using deception, coercion, and fraud, often physically and/or without pay
  • Targeted victims are often foreign non-U.S. citizens, with some labor trafficking victims enter the country under a work or student-based visa program
  • Used in agriculture, fisheries, construction work, and hospitality industries
Involuntary Servitude:

The condition of being coerced to labor against one’s will. 
  • A form of forced labor
  • Forced to work in private residences as maids, nannies, or domestic help
  • Travel documents and identification taken away from victims in order to limit freedom
  • Fear of law enforcement to avoid arrest or deportation, depending on immigration status
Additional Information:

Please visit our Resources page to view a list of national and local human trafficking programs, with phone hotlines and information.