Human Trafficking

In 2020, Polaris Project reported 10,583 new cases of trafficking in the US, as well as 16,658 victims identified. In 2019, Polaris Project reported 11,500 situations reported nationwide, inferring a decrease nationally. 

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline Data Report in 2020, there were 933 signals received in Illinois. In comparison to the 2019 National Human Trafficking Hotline Statistics, there were 844 signals received. Through this data, we can see a definite increase in human trafficking cases in Illinois. 

Human trafficking (HT) has been around for many years, but has not yet received the attention needed from the community just like sexual assault. Looking at the data reports can be overwhelming but does not change the fact that the community should have a more open conversation about HT!

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline Data Report from 2020 in Illinois, sex trafficking is the most common industry of potential trafficking with 76%, followed by labor trafficking with 13%.

It is important to recognize what makes an individual more susceptible to becoming a victim, as well as preventative techniques to recognize human trafficking. The top venues where sex trafficking occur are hotels/motels, illicit messages/spa businesses, and online ads. The top venues where labor trafficking occurs are domestic work, and construction. 

What makes someone susceptible to becoming a victim of HT?


Sex Trafficking 
      • Substance Use Concern
      • Runaway/Homeless Youth
      • Unstable housing
      • Mental Health concern
      • Recent Migration/Relocation
Labor Trafficking
    • Recent Migration/Relocation
    • Self-Reported Economic Hardship 
    • Unstable Housing 
    • Criminal Record/Criminal History 
    • Substance Use Concern


Human trafficking is not a new phenomenon in our country. In fact, this has been going on for many years, with millions of victims, and we have not yet found a cure to this social injustice! Yvonne Ambrose was the mother of late Desiree Robinson, who passed away after becoming a victim of sex trafficking. Desiree became a victim of sex trafficking through social media where Joseph Hazley pressured her into selling her body. On December 23rd, 2016, Desiree was taken to the perpetrators house were she was abused, raped, strangled, and murdered.

Through COVID-19, we have seen a shift in how recruitment occurs. In prior years, the most common forms of recruitment were strip clubs, foster homes, and schools. Due to the shutdown, the internet/social media became the top recruitment location for trafficking. Polaris Project reported 125% increases in recruitment reports from Facebook, while Instagram reported 95% increase when compared to its previous year. 

As HT has gained more attention from the public, many have adopted preventative techniques such as prevention education, and education for healthcare workers when aiding a victim. Although HT has gained more attention, there is still a long road ahead of us to help spread and inform our community members on the impact of HT! 

There is this notion of belief that HT does not occur in our own neighborhood. Unfortunately, the reality is that not only does this happen in our community, this is a global phenomenon! With the help of our community and the proper preventative education we can help spread awareness on HT and prevent community members from becoming victims of HT!

If you or someone you know needs immediate help due to human trafficking, please call or text the national hotline:

Call: 1 (888) 373-7888
SMS: 233733 (Text “HELP” or “INFO”)

Written by Evelyn Perez, ZCenter Intern and BSW Candidate at Northeastern Illinois University.

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email



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