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Recognizing Human Labor Trafficking

Human trafficking is estimated to presently impact 40.3 million people globally. Experts believe that there are more situations of labor trafficking than of sex trafficking, but there is a much wider awareness of sex trafficking in the U.S. than of labor trafficking. According to U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline, in 2019, individual labor trafficking victims and survivors made up 22% of the total victims and survivors identified during that year.

As with sex trafficking, labor trafficking is committed through the use of force, threats, and coercion, in order to get an individual or group to perform labor services for the benefit of the trafficker. The industries wherein labor trafficking most commonly occurs include domestic work (such as with gardeners, nannies, and maids), agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and traveling sales crews. Labor trafficking victims can be recruited through seemingly normal job offers and advertisements, as well as false promises and fraud, including promises of familial support.

Traffickers often use multiple methods to maintain control over their victims, with isolation being one of the more prevalent approaches. In 2019, The Polaris Project identified that the top 5 forms of force, fraud, or coercion that had been used to control labor trafficking victims during that year included:

1. Withholding Pay/Earnings
2. Excessive Working Hours
3. Threats to Report to Immigration
4. Verbal Abuse
5. Withholding/Denying Needs

Other tactics include the labor trafficking victim’s identity documents, such as ID’s, passports, and visas, being taken and held by the trafficker, the trafficker claiming that the victim owes them money, and coercing the trafficking victim through substance abuse and addiction.

Because the success of human trafficking is largely reliant upon the crime being hidden and the victims being isolated, it may not always be easy to spot the signs of a trafficking situation. Labor trafficking victims can appear exhausted due to working excessive hours, look malnourished or sick due to their basic needs going unmet, and can show signs of anxiety. Labor trafficking victims may also be fearful of speaking to anyone about their situation, especially law enforcement or other authorities, as they have been frequently threatened or told that no one will help them; this, especially, lends itself to a victim’s continued isolation.

Victims and survivors of human labor trafficking are used, like they are no different that tools or machinery. They seem regarded by their abuser as nothing more than an inanimate object, utilized for the benefit of the trafficker. It is modern slavery; this is why human trafficking is such a heinous crime. No human being deserves to be treated like this.

If you suspect someone may be a victim of human trafficking, contact local law enforcement, or
The National Human Trafficking Hotline
1 (888) 373-7888

Arkansas Valley Resource Center Staff is also available to answer your questions or help determine how to assist possible victims of Human Trafficking. Call 24/7!
415 Colorado Avenue, La Junta, CO 81050
(719) 384-7764
TTY: (719) 384-1938
After Hours Colorado Relay dial 711 or 1-800-659-2656

Stats and Graphics on Human Trafficking provided by:
The Colorado Human Trafficking Council or

Further Stats provided by:

The Polaris Project

The National Human Trafficking Hotline

AVRC is non-discriminatory agency regarding race, religion, color, gender, country of national origin, sexual orientation, mental health status, substance use or economic condition.