Human Trafficking is not a new phenonmenon, but caring about it is. Human Trafficking has been happening forever, but only in the year 2000 was it recognized as a crime by the US Government & the United Nations. You have the ability to make an impact on human trafficking in Lake County.
Awareness is key in identifying signs within our community and reporting information to local law enforcement. Here are some indicators which suggest a person may be a victim of human trafficking:
- Person is under the age of 18 and is involved in the sex industry.
- Person has visible signs of abuse including unexplained bruises, black eyes, cuts or marks.
- Person exhibits behaviors of fear, anxiety, depression or paranoia.
- Person expresses interest in, or is in a relationship with significantly older adults.
- Person has a tattoo or brand and is reluctant to explain it.
- Person has untreated illnesses or infections, particularly sexually transmitted infections.
- Person is not in control of own money or identification.
- Person displays secrecy of whereabouts after having been open about activities in the past.
- Person keeps unusual hours.
- Person wears new clothes, gets hair/nails done, possesses new material goods with no financial means to obtain these independently.
- Not speaking on own behalf
- Evidence of inability to move or leave job or take time off
- Unpaid for work or compensated very little
- Lives with co-workers and employer no privacy
- Works off the books in a low-paying job
This list is not exhaustive. One of these indicators on its own may not mean someone is trafficked, but a combination of indicators may amount to a situation of human trafficking. If you think you know or have met a victim of human trafficking in the Chicago area, call your local police department, the Salvation Army’s STOP-IT program hotline at 877.606.3158, or the national hotline from Polaris Project at (888) 373-7888.
To take an active approach in ending trafficking consider participating in training to recognize and respond appropriately to trafficking. Operation Underground Railroad offers free training to help you identify the signs of trafficking. Identifying victims is only one step in solving the issue. Resources need to be available to assist victims to transition to safe living situations.
Trauma-informed spaces and organization are made available to help create pathways for victims to exit their exploitative situation. Each of us needs to educate ourselves and raise awareness in our social circles. In Lake County, education and support services are provided by Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center, Stepping Stones, and a Safe Place.