Sex Trafficking Resources

If you are in immediate danger, call 911. For free, confidential help and support, call the Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888.

A victim of sex trafficking is someone who has been recruited, harbored, transported, or otherwise coerced, through force or fraud, to perform commercial sex work. Anyone under the age of 18 involved with the commercial sex industry is also considered a victim of human trafficking, regardless of how they ended up in that situation. It does not matter if there was initial consent on the victims behalf to partake in commercial sex, if their abusers later coerced, tricked, or otherwise forced the victim into continuing to work against their will; it is still sex trafficking. Tactics that traffickers use to target victims include violence, threats, false promises, debt bondage, and other forms of control and manipulation. Women, men, and children are also coerced into the organized crime of sex trafficking through fake romantic relationships, a false sense of family, promises of a better life in a new country, extremely promising job offers in far away places, and more situations that at first may seem too good to be true. The goal of the trafficker is to get the victim as vulnerable as possible before taking advantage of them and trapping them in a situation that they do not want to be in.

Sex trafficking often hides itself in plain sight, as massage parlors or even manufacturing plants; it can also be found on city streets, in truck stops, in restaurants, in bars and clubs, and hotels and motels. It can survive anywhere that there is a demand for commercial sex work.

It's important to consider that a victim of sex trafficking might not appear to be a victim or endangered in any way. Too often, they are unable or afraid to ask for help from fear of being hurt by their captors. Many victims are also afraid of seeking the help that they need because they are told that what they are doing is illegal and they could be in serious trouble with the law, or even deported in some cases. Many do not know that they are the victims, not the perpetrators of a crime, which makes all the difference. These victims remain victims too often, which is why you need to learn what to look for and why we need to raise awareness.

What to Look For

Examples of red flags are when a person . . .
  • Is not free to manage their own time
  • Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp or manager
  • Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
  • Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
  • Is not allowed breaks or suffers unusual restrictions at work
  • Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it
  • Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of the work
  • High security measures on work or home (opaque or covered windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)
  • Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or paranoid
  • Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Lacks medical care and/or is denied medical services by employer
  • Appears malnourished or shows signs of repeated exposure to injury
  • Shows signs of physical or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
  • Has few or no personal possessions
  • Is not in control of his/her money or documentation (ID or passport), no financial record or bank account
  •  Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves and a third party may insist on always being present or translating
  • Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address
  • Lack of knowledge of wherabouts and/or of what city he/she is in
  • Loss of sense of time
  • Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story
    (from National Human Trafficking Hotline)



If you suspect that someone is a victim of human trafficking, do not hesitate to contact one of the resources below.

You could be the help that they need. 

Human Trafficking Resources

Report a Tip
Human Trafficking Hotline
      (888) 373-7888
      TTY 711
      Text "HELP" or "INFO" to 233733
      [email protected]
Victim Assistance from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office on Trafficking in Persons
      More information can also be found by calling the Human Trafficking Hotline above
PDF of Services for Human Trafficking Victims and Survivors 
Assistance for Child Victims

Local Resources
YWCA Stepping Stones
      (309) 662-0461
PATH 24-Hour Hotline
      (309) 827-4005
      (800) 570-PATH (toll free)
Illinois Automated Victim Notification System
      (866) 566-8439
Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault
      (217) 753-4117

Learn More

Myths and Facts 
Other Types of Human Trafficking
All of OITP's Resource Materials 

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