Victim Identification

Tips for Recognizing Victims of Human Trafficking

Understand the problem. View modern day victims of human slavery for what they are: unwillingly-forced, exploited and tortured men, women, and children in need of immediate help, and not criminals, hustlers, or deviates.

Checklist for Identifying a Victim:

  • Demographics (sex, current age, education, occupation)
  • Does the victim possess false documents?
  • Does the victim allege kidnapping or traveling voluntarily?
  • Did the victim approach the offender or vice versa?
  • Was payment made to the victim or the victim’s family?
  • Is the person paying off a debt to their employer which is accruing faster than they can pay it?
  • Did the victim make payment to the offender?
  • Does the victim allege deception or violence on recruitment?
  • Does the victim allege exploitation or violence at the place of reception?
  • Was the victim involved in illegal activities at the place of reception?
  • Were other victims involved in the same recruitment, transportation and exploitation?

Checklist for Identifying a Trafficking Offender:

  • Demographics (sex, current age, education, occupation)
  • Is the offender integrated in the community of recruitment?
  • Does the offender have a criminal background?
  • Is the offender suspected of or have convictions for trafficking, prostitution, pimping, or workforce violations?
  • Is there evidence of involvement in a criminal organization?
  • Were false documents provided to the victim?
  • Was a recognized trafficking transit route used?
  • Were non-standard transport modes used?
  • Were documents withheld from the victim?
Tips for Law Enforcement

Fraud/Financial Coercion Questions

  • How did you get your job?
  • Were you forced to do different work?
  • Do you actually receive payment or is your money being held for you?
  • Do you owe your employer money?
  • How were financial transactions handled?
  • Are you in possession of your own legal identity documents? If not, why not?
  • Are you being made to do things that you do not want to do?

Physical Abuse Questions

  • Were you ever threatened with harm if you tried to leave?
  • Has your family been threatened?
  • Were you ever physically abused, or did you ever witness abuse against another person?
  • Were there any objects or weapons use in physical abuse?
  • Was anyone else ever abused or threatened with harm in your presence?
  • How were medical problems handled, and who attended to them?

Freedom of Movement Questions

  • Is your freedom of movement restricted?
  • What were the conditions under which you were left unattended?
  • Where are the locks used and who has the keys to them?
  • How was movement in public places handled (e.g. car, van, bus, subway)?

Psychological Coercion Questions

  • Who are you afraid of?
  • Why are you afraid of them?
  • How do you feel about police? Why?

Environmental Indicators

  • Do you live and work in the same place?
  • Where do you live/eat/sleep?
  • Where do the alleged perpetrators live/eat/sleep?
  • Are the living conditions between the two excessively desperate?
Tips for Health-Care Practitioners:

Suggested Screen Questions

  • 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?
  • Have you been physically harmed in any way?
  • What are your working or living conditions like?
  • Where do you sleep and eat?
  • Do you sleep in a bed, on a cot or on the floor?
  • Have you ever been deprived of food, water, sleep or medical care?
  • Do you have to ask permission to eat, sleep or go to the bathroom?
  • Are there locks on your doors and windows so you cannot get out?
  • Has anyone threatened your family?
  • Has your identification or documents been taken from you?
  • Is anyone forcing you to do anything that you do not want to do?

Victim Identification

  • Evidence of being controlled
  • Evidence of an inability to move or leave a job
  • Bruises or other signs of battering
  • Fear or depression
  • Not speaking the language
  • Recently arrived in the area
  • Lack of documentation

Interacting with the Victim

  • Talk in a safe and confidential environment
  • If someone appears to be controlling the victim, attempt to separate them
  • If the victim does not speak your language, use an interpreter


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