Federal law defines trafficking in persons as "sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age";
"the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery."
Labor traffickers often make false promises of a high-paying job or exciting education or travel opportunities to lure people into horrendous working conditions. Yet, victims find that the reality of their jobs proves to be far different than promised and must frequently work long hours for little to no pay. Their employers exert such physical or psychological control – including physical abuse, debt bondage, confiscation of passports or money – that the victim believes they have no other choice but to continue working for that employer. - Polaris Project
Sex traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage, and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. Under U.S. federal law, any minor under the age of 18 years induced into commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking—regardless of whether or not the trafficker used force, fraud, or coercion.
The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary dramatically. Many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces or manipulates them into prostitution. Others are lured in with false promises of a job, such as modeling or dancing. Some are forced to sell sex by their parents or other family members. They may be involved in a trafficking situation for a few days or weeks, or may remain in the same trafficking situation for years. - Polaris Project
Traffickers of both labor and sex trafficking use fear, threats, and intimidation to keep their victims bridled to them. In labor trafficking situations, victims are sometimes taken to a new country by someone that has promised the victim's family a better life. This means that the trafficker knows the victim's family and can make threats to harm them if the victim tries to leave or go to the authorities. Similar threats can happen in a sex trafficking situation. Other factors that keeps sex trafficking victims on the streets are drug addictions, loss of self worth, lack of personal identification, criminal record, fear of authorities, and shame. If a victim wanted to leave, they often feel that they have no place to return to.
There are several red flags to look out for in identifying a victim of human trafficking. If you notice some of these red flags and suspect that someone you know may be in a trafficking situation, make a report.