Difficulties in Identifying Victims

  • Physically and/or psychologically controlled
  • Trained by trafficker(s) to tell lies and false stories
  • Victims’ distrust of service providers & law enforcement
  • Frequently moved from place to place
  • Technology can help disguise the real age of the victim
  • Easy to obtain fake I.D.s
  • May present with other pressing issues: substance abuse, violence, abuse history, language access needs, immigration issues, serious medical conditions.

Why Don't Victims Seek Help?

  • Captivity, confinement and isolation - Victims have been locked in rooms and trunks of cars and isolated from friends and family
  • Use and threat of violence - Victims have been beaten, raped, tortured, assaulted and threatened with weapons
  • Fear, shame, self-blame and hopelessness - Victims have been so traumatized, they blame themselves for their abuse and/or see no way out of the situation
  • Dependency - Victims have become physically, financially or emotionally dependent on the trafficker; they have bonded with the abuser through traumatic bonding (a.k.a. Stockholm Syndrome)
  • Distrust of law enforcement - Victims are told that law enforcement will arrest or harm them
  • Debt bondage - Victims are trapped in never ending cycles of fabricated debt and are made to believe they cannot leave until this debt is paid off.
  • Misinformation/False Promises - Victims are promised love, money, safety or other desires if they stay with the pimp.
  • Lack of knowledge of social systems - Victims don’t know how and where to seek help.