Know the Signs of Human Trafficking


Modern Slavery & Human Trafficking (MSHT) in the United States and Globally



  • Modern Slavery is an umbrella term encompassing slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labor and human trafficking. Victims of modern slavery are unable to leave their situation of exploitation and are controlled by threats, punishment, violence, coercion and deception.
  • Human Trafficking is a crime that involves exploiting a person for labor, services, or commercial sex. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and its subsequent reauthorizations define human trafficking as:

a) Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or

b) The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. (22 U.S.C. § 7102(9)).

  • Slavery and human trafficking violate human rights, denying people of their right to life, freedom and security.
  • Human trafficking victims can be any age, race, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, immigration status, and socioeconomic class.
  • The International Law and definition uses an Action-Means-Purpose (AMP) Model can help understand human trafficking within federal law. Human trafficking occurs when a trafficker takes an Action, and then employs the Means of force, fraud or coercion for the Purpose of compelling the victim to provide commercial sex acts, labor, or services.

Human Trafficking Settings:

  • Sex Trafficking: escort services, illicit massage services, street sexual solicitation, residential brothels, bars and strip clubs, pornography production, personal sexual servitude, and livestreaming of sexual exploitation.
  • Labor Trafficking: domestic work (such as housekeepers), restaurants, peddling and begging, agriculture, beauty services, construction, hotels, landscaping, entertainment, commercial cleaning services, manufacturing, fishing, mining, carnivals, forestry, healthcare, recreational facilities, and even criminal enterprises (such as illicit drug dealing).

MSHT Statistics (Global):

  • 27.6 million people are living in modern-day slavery, with 19.9 million victims of labor trafficking in private or state-run industries, 1.4 million held in domestic servitude, and 6.3 million victims of sex trafficking (ILO, Walk Free Foundation, and IOM, 2022). [PLEASE NOTE: You may see references to a different global figure of 49.6 million victims. This is because in some jurisdictions, the 22 million people in forced marriages are included in the total, but according to US definitions, 27.6 million is the more accurate statistic]
  • Women and girls are disproportionately affected by modern slavery, accounting for 54% of all victims (ILO, Walk Free Foundation, and IOM, 2022) and 78% of victims of forced commercial sexual exploitation.
  • 1.7 million children are trapped in forced commercial sexual exploitation globally (ILO, Walk Free Foundation, and IOM, 2022). 1 in 4 victims of modern slavery globally are children.
  • It is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry. Estimates on the economics of trafficking approximate that commercial sexual exploitation generates $99 billion a year, and that $51 billion is generated by forced economic exploitation, including domestic work, agriculture and other economic activities. This totals $150 billion per year. (ILO, 2014)

MSHT Statistics (USA):

  • In 2021, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received 10,360 reports of suspected human trafficking cases, involving 16,710 victims. Where the trafficking type was known, 7,499 were sex trafficking, 1,066 were labor trafficking, and 400 were both.
  • In 2023, the Global Slavery Index published that on any given day, 1,091,000 people are living in conditions of modern slavery in the USA. This equates to 3.3 victims for every 1,000 people in the country. (Walk Free / Global Slavery Index, 2023).
  • The U.S. Department of Labor has identified 156 goods from 77 countries made by forced and child labor.
  • The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) estimates that 1 in 6 endangered runaways reported to them in 2021 were likely sex trafficking victims. The NCMEC has seen a 130% increase in online enticement reports in 2021 compared to 2019, 44,155 vs 19,174. · In terms of online exploitation, 95% of the World’s CSAM (Child Sexual Abuse Material) is located in Europe and the US (Internet Watch Foundation, 2019).


  • Individuals who are particularly vulnerable to being trafficked include children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, runaway and homeless youth, individuals with substance misuse issues, American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) communities, and migrant laborers, including undocumented workers (Dept. of State, 2020; US President’s Interagency Task Force, 2013).
  • Human traffickers exploit many vulnerabilities to victimize people. Vulnerabilities include:

* lack of safety at home from violence, abuse, and neglect;

* homelessness or runaway status;

* mental health concerns;

* involvement in the child welfare system or juvenile justice system;

* poverty or economic hardship;

* isolation from family and/or community;

* recent migration, relocation, or displacement;

* unstable living situation; and

* substance abuse.

  • While it can happen to anyone, some evidence suggests that people of color and LGBTQ+ people are more likely to experience trafficking than other demographic groups. Generational trauma, historic oppression, discrimination, and other societal factors and inequities create community-wide vulnerabilities (Polaris, 2021).

Trafficking Tactics:

  • Human traffickers use various forms of force, fraud, and coercion to control and exploit victims. These forms include imposing debt, fraudulent employment opportunities, false promises of love or a better life, psychological coercion, and violence or threats of violence.
  • Trafficking is a power and control dynamic- traffickers employ a variety of control tactics, the most common including physical and emotional abuse and threats, isolation from friends and family, and economic abuse.
  • Victims become trapped and fear leaving for myriad reasons, including psychological trauma, lack of documentation, shame, emotional attachment and dependency, distrust of systems and law enforcement, or physical threats to themselves or their family.


  • Sex Trafficking: Sex trafficking is a market-driven criminal industry based on supply and demand. People who purchase commercial sex increase the demand for commercial sex and likewise provide a profit incentive for traffickers, who seek to maximize profits by exploiting trafficking victims.
  • Labor Trafficking: Consumers provide the demand and profit incentive for traffickers. Human trafficking victims make an alarmingly high number of consumer goods and food products, imported to the United States and produced domestically. More often than we realize, elements of forced labor may be present within the supply chain of products we buy or the services we pay for. These consumers can include companies that subcontract certain types of services, end-consumers who buy cheap goods produced by trafficking victims, or individuals who use the services of trafficking victims (Polaris, 2021).


  • People often falsely believe human trafficking implies victims must be moved from one place to another. However, human trafficking does not require transportation, or crossing borders to be considered a crime. Many victims are trafficked from their own community and/or home.

Human Trafficking vs. Human Smuggling:

  • Human Smuggling is the importation of people into the United States involving deliberate evasion of immigration laws. This offense includes bringing undocumented foreign individuals into the US as well as the unlawful transportation/harboring of those already in the US. These are not interchangeable terms- human trafficking is exploitation-based whereas smuggling is voluntary and transportation-based.

Last updated: June 2023 by Hope for Justice

Our Approach

Mission Wonder Wonder Women is an organization founded on care and compassion for those who have suffered from sex human trafficking.


We passionately believe in the dignity and worth of every individual and provide essential practical gifts that will support their futures.


We are working in partnership with other agencies, to raise ‘BEYOND’ awareness in our communities and around the world.


We are avidly standing by those who are vulnerable in our society to allow their voice to be heard and help them thrive past their traumas.

Mission Wonder Women Foundation


Survivor’s are extraordinary, having already shown the will to overcome adversity. They want more for themself than the history from which they come. They have goals and hopes and dreams. Once a pathway is identified to get achieve them, Mission Wonder Women Foundation helps breakdown roadblocks in the way.


The survivors we serve are resilient and ambitious, self-determined, hardworking American born and immigrant survivors of domestic trafficking.


Having been stripped of basic human rights for years and sometimes decades, the survivors of Mission Wonder Women face different combinations of intimidating but not insurmountable obstacles: trapped in the minimum wage poverty spiral, facing housing barriers with bad credit or no credit, unable to afford vocational or education opportunities. We support and education and life skills are purposefully held back from trafficked persons and need to be relearned.


Mission Wonder Women Foundation

Email:  Mission Wonder Women
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