A prostitute next to a carDid you know this past Saturday was National Human Trafficking Awareness Day? The entire month of January was declared National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month .

My question is do you think human trafficking takes place anywhere near you? I hope you answered yes; not because I want human trafficking to take place close to you, but statistically speaking, it is. Do you know what it looks like? There are a variety of indicators you may or may not see. Some are:

  • She may be in the company of an older man.
  • She may have a tattoo or branding of some other form on her body.
  • She is dressed in a revealing manner.
  • She won’t make eye contact with you.
  • She may be in the company of an older girl/woman, who appears to be in control.

For a more comprehensive list, click here.

So, let’s assume you see someone who exhibits several of the indicators. What’s next? What do you do? After all, you don’t have any special set of skills, like Liam Neeson in the movie, Taken. So, what do you do?

It may not be safe to approach her, for her or you. But you don’t have to watch her walk away and do nothing. You have a couple of options.

  1. Call 911. You can report what you see to the authorities.
  2. You can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 1-888-373-7888, from anywhere in the United States and report what you see.  They will be able to dispatch the authorities or a rescue team in the area. If you live in the state of Georgia, you can call the Out of Darkness Hotline, 404-941-6024.
  3. If you’re in a position where you can’t safely call, you can text the information to BeFree (233733) and they will respond accordingly.
  4. If you have the opportunity to speak to the young lady in the restroom, where you know she’s alone and not being watched, you can ask her: “Are you okay? Would you tell me if you weren’t?” and then give her the hotline number and tell her she can call it if she’s ever in trouble. Again, for her safety and yours, don’t try to be a hero. If she leaves with someone, you can always report the license tag of the car and a description of the person she left with when you call.

As you begin to familiarize yourself with the indicators you’ll begin seeing signs of trafficking around you. It’s not that the crime rate suddenly went up in your area; it’s that you’re looking through different lenses.

I tell people it’s like buying a white car. You never noticed there being an excessive number of white cars on the road, until you bought one. Now suddenly you see white cars everywhere. As you become aware of the indicators of trafficking, you’ll start to pick up on things.

I challenge you to educate yourself on this issue. Learn what to look for. Then when you see it, you’ll be able to do something. No one is expected to do everything to wipe this atrocity from our nation, but if everyone will do something, we’ll make a difference.