Identifying Trafficking

Can you remember what motivated you to take a stand against human trafficking? My guess is it was a personal experience, a passion for justice, or a deep compassion for those who have been exploited.

However we find our way to the work, we all eventually ask: “What can I do to help?”

We can all leverage our unique skills, resources, and networks, but to be effective, we must be educated. We must avoid common myths and understand how traffickers operate and who they target.

We have to look deeper to see, understand, and take smart action. There are many fact sheets about the signs of trafficking, but here are three simple things you can do today:

Look for dynamics of power, control, and interpersonal violence.
It’s not always obvious when trafficking is happening. Traffickers closely control victims’ interactions with the outside world. Instead of “stranger danger” or other common stereotypes, look for situations and relationships where it seems like one person is exercising power or control over another. Is an older adult always talking on behalf of a younger person, especially an unrelated adult? Is someone controlling or monitoring devices, communication, or access to the internet? Can someone freely come and go from work or other situations?

This dynamic is harder to detect in situations of familial trafficking, but watch for signs of trauma that may indicate someone is experience an unsafe home environment.


Engage in your own neighborhood, workplace, faith community, or social circles.
You don’t need to quit your day job to fight human trafficking. Look for ways to strengthen your own community. Become a mentor or a CASA volunteer. Support an after-school program in your local ISD. Ask if you can put up awareness posters in your favorite local establishment. Join a student group on campus or a prayer group in your place of worship. Consider buying slave-free products. Reducing vulnerabilities and building resiliency is key to combating exploitation.

Support those in the work.
There are thousands of organizations and field professionals across the country who are in the field working day-in and day-out to prevent human trafficking, identify victims, and care for survivors. The anti-trafficking movement is an ecosystem of partners — from law enforcement and case managers to policy makers and survivor leaders. Instead of starting something new, consider supporting your local coalition or a vetted organization doing good work.

One way to support the work today is to become a Lightkeeper and join the community of monthly donors using data to free people from human trafficking. Your $50 monthly donation can help Lighthouse identify and protect 12 people from sex trafficking every year.

However you choose to engage, one thing is true: this work needs you. Together we can protect freedom and dignity.