Virtually anyone can become a victim of human trafficking and a victim is often undetectable to the unsuspecting bystander. The use of people as a source of profit is a multi-billion-dollar industry that occurs everywhere, even right here on Long Island. From forced sex work to domestic servitude, right here in our backyard victims are being trafficked and hidden in the darkness. While victims come from all walks of life, certain groups represent “at risk” populations, including:
- Youths represent a vulnerable and at-risk population. Because of their dependence and need for help, traffickers often make victims of minors. Youths are often taken and entered into a life of servitude after running away from home for any number of reasons. Minors account for 26% of the estimated total of trafficking victims.
- People lacking financial stability are highly appealing to traffickers and may not even realize that they are being abused. Their need for work and/or money affords a trafficker the perfect situation to capitalize upon. VIBS provides unique advocacy specializing in providing services to underserved and in-need populations.
- The LGBTQ population is notably susceptible to trafficking because of their unique vulnerability. Traffickers will often use blackmail, the threat of “outing” and intimidation to gain control over their victims. VIBS staff is specially-trained and experienced in providing services to our LGBTQ clients.
- Refugees, Immigrants and Non-Native Speakers, because of the likely lack of familiarity with customs, language, resources or laws, these groups are likely victims of trafficking. Central American immigrants make up a large portion of trafficked victims here on Long Island.
These groups alone do not constitute all trafficking victims, nor are all or even any majority of these populations victims of human trafficking, but being a member of one or more of these groups may put an individual at higher risk of being trafficked. Indications of a person who may be being trafficked include:
- An isolated, disconnected person who lacks social or familial ties
- A person who noticeably lacks freedom to come and go, or move as they please
- A person without material possessions, documentation, personal affects or identification
- A child who has withdrawn from school
- A person visibly ill, injured, marked or battered
- A person lacking food, medical treatment or personal hygiene
- A person who has become submissive, anxious or generally fearful
- A person who is regularly accompanied by another person and carefully watched, coached or interrupted while speaking
People can become victims after being lured through physical force, coercion, threats, blackmail, financial or romantic promises and may be controlled through threats, isolation, violence and other manipulative tactics.
If you or someone you know may be a victim of human trafficking, help is available. Learn to protect yourself by visiting http://www.vibs.org/notforsale and you can contact VIBS at our 24-hour Crisis Hotline at (631) 360-3606 for more information or to request services. Never confront a possible trafficker or the victim, this could present a dangerous and possibly violence situation for both you and the victim, instead, contact authorities and report your findings.