Home > TalkTraffic > #TalkTraffic: What Should You Do If You See Someone You Think May Be Trafficked?

#TalkTraffic: What Should You Do If You See Someone You Think May Be Trafficked?

This is the tenth video in our 10-part #TalkTraffic video series, which we are releasing on Human Trafficking Awareness Day (January 11, 2017). See Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9

At NY Anti-Trafficking Network, people ask us all the time, “What should I do if I see or meet someone who may be trafficked? How do I help in the moment?” It can be difficult to tell if a person has been trafficked, and it takes time and understanding to see how you can help. Learn more about how you can support someone you think may be a victim or survivor of trafficking.

What You Need To Know

If you see someone you think may be trafficked, it’s a good thing you are showing compassion and interest in your fellow community members. But it’s important to stay calm and not to panic, and to think carefully about what that person might need, rather than rushing in to help.

  • It’s very difficult to tell if a person is being trafficked from just looking at someone or from only one or a few conversations. There is no formula or “quick fix” to figuring this out.
  • If you act quickly without understanding a person’s situation, the trafficker could be nearby, putting them in more danger. And calling the police or 911, especially without that person’s knowledge or consent, can be very dangerous. It may actually result in the person being arrested or deported.
  • If you regularly see someone whom you think may be trafficked, slowly build a relationship with that person. Be friendly, engage in small talk, make eye contact, and let them know over time you’re someone they can trust and you’re willing to be a resource.

At times, people feel a strong emotional response when they think they are meeting someone who may be trafficked, and they want to rush in and try to “rescue” the person who may be a victim.

  • The problem with this “rescuer” mentality is it takes the focus away from the survivor and puts it on the so-called “rescuer” and his or her point of view.
  • This has a negative consequence: It sidelines the voices of survivors and their ability to make their own decisions and reclaim their own voice, dignity, and ability to move forward in life.
  • If you see a situation that might involve trafficking, call a qualified and trusted organization that works with trafficking survivors and they can help foster a human rights approach and expertly navigate the possibilities for helping a person at risk.

If you know someone is trafficked, or if you believe they need help, once you have built up a trusting relationship, there are concrete and non-intrusive things you can do through everyday interactions.

  • Give them a cell phone they can use on their own.
  • Offer phone numbers for trafficking hotlines or domestic violence shelters, or tell them about how 911 works.
  • Tell them where the nearest hospital is.

It’s important to remember, even if you aren’t sure in the moment if a person is trafficked or you’re not able to reach out and help, there is still a lot you can do to support survivors and end trafficking! Watch our video on how you can help.

Share this video: youtu.be/HdeV2F1jCNA

Connect with us! nyatn.org | @NYATN | #TalkTraffic | Facebook

See the whole #TalkTraffic video project.

Learn more about what you can do to help.

Production Credits — Producers: Juhu Thukral, Jeffrey Yamaguchi, and Suzanne Seltzer. Video Production/Filming/Editing: Jordan Timpy and Cassie Timpy of Agape Visuals (Read their write-up about working on this project). Music: Broke For Free.

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