Family of origin dynamics often created vulnerabilities placing human trafficking victims at risk from an early age. According to a Russian anti-trafficking site, some of the most at-risk individuals are those who were victims of rape, incest or domestic violence in their home life. Children from troubled families and the children of alcoholics are more at risk than their peers in more stable environments. Also highly at risk were those from low-income homes or persons who exhibit risk-taking behavior (hard partying, drunk driving, and other risky and potentially life-threatening behaviors).
While it’s not uncommon to hear of under-aged children being taken for trafficking purposes, there is also a great risk factor among college-aged women, particularly if they live in dormitories far away from their families. Anyone who is from “out of town,” whether they’ve moved for work or school, is more likely to be targeted because it’s likely to take longer for them to be reported missing.
Illegal immigrants are also highly targeted, for the obvious reasons that they and their families would be less likely to report any crime to the police, and might have difficulty in communicating a need for help to others.
Other characteristics of potential human trafficking victims are idealism, naivete, loyalty, low education or socioeconomic status, desperation over an apparent lack of options, high stress, a history of emotional or physical abandonment, low self-esteem, lack of job skills, and a distrust of the police.
For more complete details on victim profiles as well as profiles of “pimps” and other traffickers, visit this very thoroughly researched post, and be sure to check out the selected bibliography that follows it.
If you believe that you know someone who is at risk for trafficking, please, take the time to reach out to them. Make it clear to them that your home will be a safe haven for them should they ever need it, or offer up viable alternatives. Keep tabs on them. Check in with them. Make certain that they have all of your contact information and feel free to reach out to you if they ever feel endangered. Victims of human trafficking are rarely restored to their loved ones, and almost never are returned without deep and lasting damage to themselves as a person—sometimes, they’re unrecognizable. If you could possibly prevent someone you know and care about from disappearing into oblivion, please, reach out today.