Since 2010, January has been designated as the National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Each year the President of the United States makes a public proclamation calling on people everywhere to fight human trafficking wherever and however it exists.
What is Human Trafficking?
Trafficking is a modern form of slavery. Men, women, and children are recruited, transported, transferred, harbored, and received by means of threat, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, and/or the abuse of power. Individuals are selected for various reasons that include forced labor or services, removal of organs, prostitution or sexual exploitation for commercial gain.
What does a trafficker look like?
Traffickers can work alone or with a group to gain financial profit from making people work without pay by using physical force, verbal/mental abuse, psychological abuse, and/or sexual abuse. They can be citizens of any country, any nationality, and hold any socio-economic status.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, examples of traffickers may include:
- Brothel and fake massage business owners and managers
- Employers of domestic servants
- Gangs and criminal networks
- Growers and crew leaders in agriculture
- Intimate partners/family members
- Labor brokers
- Factory owners and corporations
- Small business owners and managers
Who are traffickers looking for?
Traffickers use ploys such as job opportunities and false loving relationships before revealing who they truly are. Victims can come from rural or urban areas, wealth or poverty, any race or religion, and any level of education.
With that said, there are some individuals that are more susceptible to being trafficked than others. These include runaway or homeless youth, foreign nationals (legal and illegal), and individuals who have already experience violence and trauma.
What does it look like in rural areas?
Trafficking takes on many forms and looks differently in various situations. Sex trafficking is very prevalent in rural communities due to geographical isolation. With state forests, country roads, farms, and remote truck stops, these are target areas that traffickers will hold their victims hostage. And since rural areas tend to lack economic opportunities, traffickers can lure innocent individuals into their web by promising financial stability.
What are the warning signs?
Poor work and living conditions, poor mental health or abnormal behavior, poor physical health, few or no personal belongings, no ID, no money, lack of control over their lives, unable to give a residential address, lack of knowledge of what town they are in, loss of sense of time, inconsistent stories about their personal lives.
National Sex Trafficking Hotline 1-888-3737-888
How can we help you?
Bright Alternatives is a pregnancy resource center that provides a variety of free & confidential services. If you are a victim of sex trafficking and think you’re pregnant, we can provide you with a free medical-grade pregnancy test. You do not have to give us your real name or contact information if you fearful. If your test is positive, we can provide you with resources and referrals, including crisis counseling if this is an unplanned pregnancy. We also have materials services available you can earn through a parenting program with weekly appointments to help offset the financial costs involved with raising a child. Please call us at (585) 593-0300 to schedule a local appointment in Allegany County or (814) 368-3388 if you live closer to McKean County.
Pregnant? Scared? Text “HELPLINE” to 313131 or call the 24-Hour Option Line at 1-800-712-HELP