If you or someone you know is experiencing human trafficking or you’re unsure about whether or not your situation is human trafficking, please speak to an advocate at the Family Safety Center today at 615-880-1100. If you would like to speak to a confidential hotline about services or about a human trafficking situation, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. If you would like to report a potential human trafficking situation to local authorities in Tennessee, call the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-855-558-6484.
On This Page:
What is Human Trafficking? Who Are Traffickers? How Does it Happen? What Does It Look Like? What Are the Red Flags?
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking happens when one person uses or exploits another person for their own personal gain.
Traffickers can use physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse as well as lies, fraud and manipulation to coerce or force victims into commercial sex or labor, services, or servitude.
The word “trafficking” can imply that it has to involve movement, border crossing, kidnapping, organized crime, and/or physical force. However, none of these things must be present for human trafficking to occur. To learn more about human trafficking myths and facts, visit Polaris.
Who are traffickers?
Human traffickers are usually known to victims or get to know the victim before the trafficking actually begins. Traffickers can be:
- intimate partners, such as an intimate partner or spouse
- family members, including immediate family and extended family
- friends or acquaintances
How does it happen?
Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking. Just like domestic violence, traffickers use different types of abuse to maintain power and control over victims, such as emotional or verbal abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, and physical abuse. You can view the Power and Control Wheel for Human Trafficking here.
What does human trafficking look like?
Human trafficking does not always look like it does in movies or the news. Human trafficking can be:
- A boyfriend who sell his girlfriend for sex to pay back a debt or to humiliate, degrade, and abuse her
- A parent who sells their child for sex because of a drug addiction or to pay back a debt
- An employer that creates a huge debt that cannot be paid and threatens employees to pay it back
- A gang that forces members to move drugs, sell drugs, or sells female gang members for sex to other gang members or other people
- A family member who brings another family member to work in their home and treats that person like an indentured servant
What are the red flags for human trafficking?
If you or someone you know is experiencing a trafficking situation, you may see the following signs:
- Controlling intimate partner, relative, friend, or employer
- A person who is hypervigilant or is very anxious to return to work or to a particular relationship
- A person who has little or no access to any money, especially the money they earned themselves
- A person who owes a large debt that is impossible to pay off and continues to grow quickly
- A minor who is confused or inconsistent about who their legal guardian is
- A person who is unable to clarify where they live or has an unstable living situation
- A person who doesn’t have control of their identification documents (like their driver’s license, visa, or passport)
- A person who is inconsistent about their story because of the trauma they have experienced
- A person who has few or no personal possessions
- A person who works long or unusual hours and has unusual and very strict restrictions in their workplace
- A person who works in a workplace or residence that has high security and/or privacy measures
- A person who lives or works in unhealthy conditions
- A person who is denied medical attention by an employer, family, or intimate partner
- A person who suddenly has access to a lot of money and expensive unexplained purchases (cell phones, new clothing, new jewelry, etc.)
- A person who is in the commercial sex industry and has a controlling intimate partner, relative, friend, employer, pimp, or manager
If you would like to speak to a confidential hotline about services or about a human trafficking situation, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
If you would like to report a potential human trafficking situation to local authorities in Tennessee, call the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline at 855-558-6484.
If you think that you are in an abusive relationship, look at our safety planning page for ways to increase your safety and our Other Help in Nashville page for community support.