Human trafficking is often discussed by the media and on social media platforms. There have been movies made about it. But what is human trafficking, and who does it affect?
By definition, human trafficking involves using force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Millions of men, women, and children are trafficked every year around the world; it even happens here in Maryland. It can happen in any community, and it does not discriminate; victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality.
Human trafficking is a crime that is hidden in plain sight. Traffickers use violence, manipulation, and false promises to control their victims. They prey on vulnerable people who may be suffering from addiction or economic hardship. Often, victims do not seek help because they are afraid of their trafficker, there may be a language barrier, or they may be afraid of law enforcement.
It is important for the public to recognize the signs of human trafficking; this information could save a life. Here are some common signs from the Department of Homeland Security that a person may be exploited by a trafficker:
- Disconnected from family, friends, and the community;
- Stopped attending school;
- Sudden and dramatic change in behavior;
- Engaging in commercial sex acts;
- Appears disoriented, confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse;
- Fearful, timid, or submissive behavior;
- Lack of food, water, sleep, or medical care;
- Often in the company of a person that appears to be in control; and
- Living in unsuitable or unstable conditions.
The Charles County Sheriff’s Office wants the community and victims of trafficking to know that we are here to help. The safety of victims and of the public is paramount, and we can help bring you to safety and your trafficker to justice for this horrible crime.
Do not attempt to confront a suspected trafficker, and do not alert a victim of any suspicions. In an emergency, always call 9-1-1. If you have a concern or would like to report suspicious activity, call our non-emergency line at 301-932-2222. You can also contact:
- BeFree Textline
Text HELP to 233733 (BEFREE)
- National Human Trafficking Hotline
1-888-373-7888 (TTY: 711)
- National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
Click here for more information and resources on human trafficking in Maryland.