“My daughter was 14 and living in my house. I never thought it could happen. I found a second cell phone in my daughter’s backpack, and I found the text messages he had sent her. I couldn’t believe my child was being trafficked in my own home! We blocked the number and tried to talk to her, be we didn’t know what else we could do…”
Traffickers want an easy target; someone who is insecure, more socially isolated, and with less of a family structure. It makes it easier for a trafficker to win them over, and to later exploit them. Having strong relationships with parents, teachers, family, and friends makes it harder for them to be separated from their world.
Be on the lookout for any…
- New tattoos, or other marks of “ownership”
- Chronic runaway episodes
- Possession of hotel keys
- Unusual Bruises or Injuries
- New friends who are controlling and don’t want to meet you
- Second / Burner cell phones
- Excessive amounts of cash in their possession
Foster a relationship. Be someone they can turn to.
Sex traffickers often present themselves as very charismatic people. They use flattery or promises in order to embed themselves in the lives of their victims.
- Promising opportunities of fame in a different part of the world, or an easy way to leave a current living situation.
- They quickly establish an intimate relationship, but then begin to control their target by demanding cell phone access and social media passwords.
- They isolate by restricting communications with family and friends, or by taking away car keys or IDs.
Don’t wait to get help. If you suspect child trafficking, reach out to your local police and ask to talk to someone on their sex trafficking task force.