The Red Flags to Spot a Sex Trafficking Victim

Be alert and aware of your surroundings.

Former model Frida Farrell went in for what she thought was a photoshoot and ended up getting drugged, raped, and brought into the sex trafficking ring. Miraculously, she was able to escape her captors and now shares her story to spread awareness. Sex trafficking is a fairly common crime that could be happening anywhere — including right under your nose. 

Executive Director of the Case Analysis Division of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Staca Shehan, says that trafficking is happening in every state in the United States. In order to fight against it and to prevent it, you have to be an advocate and know what to look for. She says common red flags of sex trafficking victim include: 


  • If a person is scared or nervous.
  • If a person looks to someone else before answering questions. 
  • If a person doesn't have any personal identification or, if they do, it's being held by someone else. 
  • If a person has a name or symbol tattoed, branded, or burned on their body. Additionally, if they become reluctant to explain it or you notice others in the group have the same one. 
  • If a person is with a controlling, abusive, and dominant boyfriend or older female. 
  • If a person doesn't have much information on their travel plans; including where they've been or where they're going. 
  • If a person is talking about a traveling job opportunity such as modeling, singing, or dancing. 

A lot of these signs can be easily spotted in an airport — where a person is traveling — but they can be spotted elsewhere. Keep in mind that victims can be both males and females. If you are suspicious of anything it is important to speak up and alert the police. You can also alert the proper authorities by going to cybertipline.org or calling the national hotline 1-800-843-5678. 

Related: 

How to Cope With Trauma

Abuse and Sexual Assault Resources

Pedophile Red Flags to Look Out For

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