Next to drug trafficking, human trafficking is one of the largest and fastest-growing criminal operations in the world, netting an estimated $32 BILLION worldwide each year.
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, and includes forced labor, domestic servitude, and commercial sex trafficking. The crime knows no demographic restrictions, and almost everyone is considered a potential target, particularly children and women.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline (888-373-7888) has reported close to 200 cases of human trafficking in Nebraska since 2007, including 63 in 2017. The vast majority of those cases involved sex trafficking, where victims are forced into prostitution by their traffickers. These criminals take away all forms of communication their victims may use, from mobile devices and driver’s license to access to their social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
Sex trafficking has become more prevalent in recent years. It is defined as a form of human trafficking where people are sexually exploited by means of force, fraud or coercion. It can occur almost anywhere, from a local residence to online escort services, strip clubs or places like a massage parlor or a spar that disguises a brothel.
Children under the age of 18 are especially vulnerable, as they can be targeted through their social media accounts and encouraged to provide incriminating photos that can then be used against them by a trafficker who threatens to post photos online. The photos are used by traffickers to advertise to those who use their services.
Kidnapping or abduction of victims is also a tool used by traffickers. Sometimes, traffickers will “chat up” a would-be victim in a store or stalked in a parking lot of a business or near a residence.
Signs a human trafficker may be grooming you
— The abductor approaches you while you’re alone
— They say they are from another city or country
— Their self-description or story is inconsistent
— They pay only in cash and say things like they don’t have a credit card and ask to use yours to avoid being tracked
— Forces you to take drugs or consume alcohol
— Lures you in with friendly conversation
— Shows signs of aggressive behavior
— Verbal or sexual abuse
— They talk about having you come visit their country in the near future
— They deny being married or having a family of their own (this is typically a man who is seeking out a younger woman)
— They make sexual moves on you without your consent
— When they find out you’re not in need of money, a daddy figure, or job their interest shift
— They seem put off when you mention your family lives nearby
— When you Google their name, and the city of residence, all you find is the exact description, but the photo is someone else entirely. (They use this identity on the move and they will use it on the next innocent person they interact with while on this mission of recruiting those for human trafficking.)
How to protect yourself from abduction
— Be aware of your surroundings
— Carry pepper spray with you on your key-chain
— If you sense you are being chased down, or about to be kidnapped call 911 immediately
— Stay in tune with your intuition, it will not lead you astray
— Mentally prepare yourself to fight off the abductor
— Never reveal private information to a stranger
— Get to a safe spot as soon as possible.
— If you do talk to a stranger, let me know you have friends and family in the area
— Let them know you’re a supporter of guns and the second amendment
— If you’re on a date, never leave the table until dinner is finished to avoid the other person slipping anything into your food or drink
— If you begin to be attacked, make a scene, yell for help, and fight back like your life depends on it (because it probably does)
— Be observant and use your brain (knowledge is power)
— Allow 3 of your closest friends or family members to track your phone via GPS so they know your whereabouts at all times– you can do with on most cell phones and allow a select few to have access to your location for 1 hour, 1 day, or indefinitely
— Don’t let anyone know where you live until you get to know them– so for a date, meet them at a public place for the first few times until you get to know them and feel comfortable
— Stay in contact with friends and family if you’re out and about alone or with someone you don’t know very well
— Always keep your doors locked
— Before walking out of a store or restaurant, have your keys out so you don’t have to try finding them as your walking to the car (abductors love a distracted person)
— Remember what you’ve seen in the movies– that stuff can actually happen and you can use some of the same methods to escape from a bad situation
— If you suffer from trauma or psychological damage post the incident, seek professional help and don’t be ashamed of it. Getting help is a courageous act