Identifying Victims

Information for Clinicians
(U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Victims of human trafficking may look like many of the patients coming to health clinics or emergency rooms. Victims are young children, teenagers, men and women. By looking beneath the surface and asking yourself these questions, you can help identify potential victims:

  • Is the patient accompanied by another person who seems controlling (possibly the trafficker)?
  • Is the patient rarely allowed in public (except for work)?
  • Can you detect any physical or psychological abuse?
  • Does the patient seem submissive or fearful?
  • Does the patient have difficulty communicating because of language or cultural barriers?
  • Does the patient lack identity documentation?
  • Is someone else collecting the patient’s pay or holding their money for "safekeeping?"

If you are concerned about a patient, here are some questions you could ask:

  • Can you leave your job or situation if you want?
  • Can you come and go as you please?
  • Have you been threatened if you try to leave?
  • Has anyone threatened your family?
  • What are your working or living conditions like?
  • Where do you sleep and eat?
  • Do you have to ask permission to eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom?
  • Is there a lock on your door so you cannot get out?
  • Does someone prohibit you from socializing or attending religious services?

If you think someone is a victim of human trafficking, call the Trafficking Information and Referral Hotline: (888) 373-7888.