When people are used for profit—bought and sold for sex or free labor through force, fraud, or coercion (according to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000)—it showcases the worst and darkest form of human immorality. These offenses are what define the world of sex and human trafficking, a criminal activity regarded as one of […]

Sex and Human Trafficking Lawyer If you are a survivor of sex and human trafficking, you have options for recovering the damages you have suffered from your victimization.

When people are used for profit—bought and sold for sex or free labor through force, fraud, or coercion (according to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000)—it showcases the worst and darkest form of human immorality. These offenses are what define the world of sex and human trafficking, a criminal activity regarded as one of the largest types of crime worldwide.

Human traffickers can be prosecuted in a criminal court if they are caught—something that is much easier said than done—but locking up a single trafficker does little to help their victims, and it does even less to put a stop to this scourge of an industry. The problem is that human trafficking is too profitable. The gap in the trafficking machine left by one trafficker’s imprisonment will quickly be filled by another enterprising criminal wanting to cash in on this trade.

Civil lawsuits, on the other hand, have emerged as a powerful mechanism for providing healing and restitution to victims of human trafficking. This litigation targets the businesses—truck stops, motels, and hotels—who ignore the signs of sex and human trafficking (similar to those reported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) on their premises and thereby enable the crimes to continue right under their noses. These businesses can be held accountable for their role in the complex web of human trafficking because they are violating a duty of care that they owe to their guests. In legal terms, this makes them liable for harms and injuries that befall the people who visit their establishments.

When a sex and human trafficking victim manages to escape their situation, they deserve to recover the massive damages they have suffered at the hands of this cruel, underworld enterprise. Chances are, the perpetrator who trafficked the victim cannot be tracked down and charged with their crimes. Even if the trafficker is found, the victim may not be able to recover compensation from the criminal. But they might be able to sue the businesses that helped the traffickers do their dirty work, and these businesses have much deeper pockets. A sex and human trafficking lawyer from Newsome Melton wants to help victims recover compensation for their pain and suffering.

If you are a survivor of sex and human trafficking, we want to help you get the compensation you deserve from the businesses who deserve to be held accountable for your victimization. Call a sex and human trafficking lawyer from Newsome Melton today at (888) 808-5977 for a free case review and consultation.

What Is Sex and Human Trafficking?

Sex and human trafficking is nothing short of modern-day slavery. When a human being is bought or sold so they can be used for sex or labor, this is sex and human trafficking, and it is one of the largest and fastest growing “industries” around the world. According to the Department of Homeland Security, millions of people—children, women, and even men—are trafficked globally.

Because people can be bought to fill a wide variety of roles—commercial sex, domestic servitude, and forced labor, for example—there is no single type of victim who is exclusively targeted as a trafficking victim. Traffickers extend their scouting networks into communities of every size and type, and they prey on people of every race, age, nationality, gender, and gender identity. Nobody is safe from the greed and immorality that drives these criminals to do what they do.

The reason sex and human trafficking is so huge is incredibly simple: people are greedy. And sex and human trafficking is immensely profitable. Unlike drugs or even weapons, which make their sellers money only once—when they are sold—people can be sold repeatedly. Sex workers can be sold over a dozen times a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The math is hard to ignore, and the criminal minds of the world see a business that presents a quick and huge return on an initial investment.

Several types of sex and human trafficking takes place:

Sex Trafficking – Sex traffickers employ tactics such as manipulation, threats, or violence—or sometimes just the allure of affection—to rope in their victims. Once the trafficker has the sex traffic victim where they want them, either manipulation or physical force can be used to make the victim perform sexual acts in exchange for money. Often, these victims are forced to sell themselves in motel or hotel rooms or in bars or nightclubs, at truck stops or rest areas, or on street corners. 

Forced Labor – These types of trafficking victims are either defrauded, forced, or coerced to perform labor for no pay—or for very little pay, usually not enough to survive on. These laborers hide in plain sight. We might see them on farms or construction sites. Sometimes they work in factories. Some of the very products we wear, eat, and otherwise consume were produced by victims of forced labor.

Domestic Servitude – Forced to work in people’s homes as maids, nannies, or other domestic help, these trafficking victims are often held prisoner when their traffickers take their forms of identification, passports, or other travel documents. Again, they are hidden in plain sight. We see them every day and do not even know they are working against their will and for very little or no money at all.

What Do Sex and Human Traffickers Do?

Traffickers exploit and enslave their victims. Whether the operation is based on sex trafficking, forced labor, or enslavement, this burgeoning industry comprises participants at various levels, from low-level amateurs to sophisticated, global organizations, all of whom have their tried-and-true methods for stocking up on their commodities—human beings.

Ensnaring Victims Into Sex and Human Trafficking

Although many sex and human traffickers kidnap their victims, more commonly they seduce their victims into a trafficked situation, controlling them using psychological and emotional, as well as physical coercion, according to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) report “Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.”

The Polaris Project reports that sex and human traffickers tend to work within the same social circles, ethnicities, and nationalities as their targets. They have fine-tuned an effective process for identifying targets, recruiting them, grooming them, then trafficking them. To identify their potential victims and craft an effective courting strategy, these traffickers first look for targets with vulnerabilities they can manipulate. 

For middle- and high-school-aged children, for example, a trafficker can pose as a student, locate a vulnerable victim who seems disenfranchised, lonely, or has low self-esteem. They befriend these students and seduce them with the promise of friendship, romance, or a sense of belonging. They build trust and gather info about the victim. This is the “recruiting” stage of sex and human trafficking.

In the “training” phase, the trafficker takes the “broken” victim and works to prepare them for commercial sex. They villainize the victim’s family and perhaps get the victim started on drugs or alcohol. At this point, the victim is a distant remnant of their former self and easily coerced to do things they would not otherwise do. The next stop is a lifetime of working in prostitution, pornography, and/or stripping. Typically, these victims work out of hotels, motels, truck stops, and similar businesses.

Trapping the Economically Troubled in Forced Labor

Still other traffickers may target people who need jobs to feed and clothe their families. Acting as “recruiters,” these traffickers charge their targets recruitment and travel fees. They then take the target to another location for their “jobs” and explain to the victims that they need to work off the money they owe for the recruiter’s services.

Until the debt is paid, these victims are stripped of their identification, travel papers, and money and are forced to work as construction workers, domestic workers, nannies, farmers, or factory workers for little or no pay.

What is the Purpose of Sex and Human Trafficking?

The purpose of sex and human trafficking is profit. People and businesses profit by making money or saving money—directly and indirectly—from the enslavement and/or exploitation of human beings. Sex and human trafficking is beyond lucrative, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO), which reports that this trade produces $150 billion in profits annually.

Traffickers sell their victims with very high returns on their initial investments. Many businesses and groups gain economically from the trafficking of human beings, according to the ILO. The greatest profits are enjoyed by the commercial sex industry and the manufacturing, construction, utilities, and mining industries, which profit by $99 billion and $34 billion each year, respectively.

Next in the profits game are the agriculture, fishing, and forestry businesses, which profit by $9 billion each year. And, although they are not industries, private households also derive economic benefit from sex and human trafficking, saving $8 billion on nannies and domestic help they would otherwise have paid for.

Sexual exploitation generates 66 percent of sex and human trafficking profits worldwide, according to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

The OSCE reported that one woman forced into sexual servitude generates $100,000 in profits, which is six-fold the average profits gleaned from each single trafficking victim, which is $21,800. The return on investment for sexual exploitation ranges from 100 percent to 1,000 percent, according to the OSCE. Trafficked laborers generate profits of 50 percent.

OSCE investigators explored the profits that two sex and human traffickers produced with their business of trafficking several victims in the Netherlands. The first trafficker had four trafficking victims and made just over $18,000 every month, which equaled a total of $127,036. The second trafficker had three trafficked victims who earned him $295,786 within 14 months while pimping them as prostitutes.

The group also investigated profits generated by cost savings via forced labor. Trafficked Chinese victims working as cooks in a German kitchen were paid $808 for a 78-hour work week, despite the fact that German law entitles such a cook to earn $2,558 for a 39-hour work week.

Clearly, the incentive for making money is clear when it comes to sex and human trafficking—whether the trafficker is generating income from the victim or cutting expenses through the victim. Both scenarios lead to profit for the trafficker.

What Is the Process of Sex and Human Trafficking?

The process of sex and human trafficking targets vulnerable women, children, and some men, and induces or forces them into labor or sex acts. According to The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the process of sex and human trafficking includes:

  • Recruiting: traffickers proactively target vulnerable individuals, often grooming them before finally inducing them to participate or taking them against their will.
  • Harboring: traffickers isolate their victims, sometimes confining them much of the time and closely monitoring them when they interact with the public.
  • Transporting: traffickers often move their victims far from their homes and away from anyone who might be looking for them. In some cases, they arrange travel of their victim to someone who has purchased them or otherwise paid for their services.
  • Providing: sex and human trafficking victims are often sold, traded, or otherwise provided to another individual or passed through a series of individuals.
  • Obtaining: obtaining occurs when a sex and human trafficking victim is forcibly taken, either by their original captor or by a subsequent trafficker.

In every case of sex and human trafficking, a trafficker forces or tricks a victim into participating in acts that are against their will, including illegal activities, dangerous or difficult labor, and sex. The traffickers control their victims, often women or children, through such means as:

  • Making threats against them or their loved ones
  • Threatening to deport them
  • Taking away their passports and other important identification and documents
  • Making them work or perform sex acts to “pay back” money they claim the victim owes
  • Drugging them to keep them from trying to escape
  • Drugging them to create an addiction and making them work or perform sex acts for more of the drug
  • Disallowing any communication with friends or family
  • Total isolation from the outside world, in some cases
  • Forced marriage
  • Taking them to a different state or country where they do not know anyone who can help them

It is important to note that not all traffickers follow every step in this process, and some may have targeted methods of recruitment, obtaining, and controlling their victims. For example, some traffickers use a ruse where they lure young women and teens online by posing as a modeling agency. This tactic allows them to induce the victim to come with them without having to forcibly take them from a public space.

Where Does Sex and Human Trafficking Occur the Most?

Sex and human trafficking is an epidemic both in the United States and around the world. It is a crime both domestically and globally, but that does little to deter traffickers who want to induce or forcibly take women, children, and men and hold them captive. These sex and human trafficking victims are then forced into difficult or unwanted labor, unwanted sex work, or both.

Sex and human trafficking is not just confined to one coast or one area of the country. There have been reports and arrests for sex and human trafficking in all 50 states in the U.S., as well as in Washington, D.C. The reports of sex and human trafficking are most prevalent from these ten states:

  • Texas
  • Florida
  • New York
  • California
  • Ohio
  • Michigan
  • Georgia
  • Nevada
  • Illinois
  • North Carolina

In addition to these states, many large cities connected by interstate highways have become popular spots for traffickers to recruit, harbor, and transport their victims. Atlanta, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and New York City are just a few examples. Of course, it is not just a problem in major metropolitan areas. Sex and human trafficking victims have been identified in suburbs, smaller towns, and rural areas, as well. 

While the majority of those trafficked within the United States are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, many are immigrants from Mexico, the Philippines, or other countries. A little less than half of those involved in reports of sex and human trafficking are foreign nationals. It is possible that many of them were taken while in the United States, as well. This is likely given the high immigrant population in the top four states with reports of trafficking activity.

It is important to note that many victims are trafficked:

  • To or from neighboring states
  • Long distances within their own country
  • To neighboring countries
  • Long distances across and between continents

While it pays to know where you or a loved one may be most at-risk of becoming the victim of a sex and human trafficker, the truth is that it could happen anywhere. Agricultural areas can be just as dangerous as cities if there is a trafficker that targets you or a member of your family.

How Do Sex and Human Traffickers Get Their Victims?

Sex and human traffickers employ many different methods to recruit or obtain their victims. There are two general categories when it comes to obtaining a victim:

  • Victims induced to participate
  • Victims forcibly taken and forced to participate

In both instances, the trafficker forces or tricks the victim. It is never the victim’s fault. It is not uncommon for traffickers to use threats of injury, realized violence, drugging the victim, or threats against their loved ones to gain power over the victim. Alternatively, the victim may have been given false promises about a dream job or relationship in order to get them to agree to follow the trafficker’s wishes.

According to the U.S. Office on Trafficking Persons, there are three ways a trafficker can gain control and keep control over someone who they trafficked or are attempting to obtain. This includes:

  • Force: especially soon after obtaining their victim, traffickers often use force to get them to participate in unwanted labor or sexual activity, or to maintain control over them. This could include close monitoring, confinement, physical restraints, assault, sexual assault, and other types of physical harm.
  • Fraud: fraud occurs when the victim gets lured into participating in a trafficking situation based on false promises. This could include promises of a job, high wages, love, marriage, or any number of things specific to what the trafficker identifies as the victim’s greatest desire. In some cases, the promises may initially be fulfilled, but often they are empty from the start.
  • Coercion: coercion occurs when there is any type of psychological manipulation used to control the victim. This could include threats of harm to the victim, confiscating their passport or other important documents, using humiliation and shame, threats of deportation, or threatening to expose their activities to loved ones or authorities.

Traffickers generally target those who appear most vulnerable and who are often unlikely to be reported missing. This could include those from the foster care system, runaways, those without housing, unaccompanied minors, and people displaced by a natural disaster.

Once they obtain their victims, traffickers remain in control through threats and coercion. Even when they want to seek help, language barriers, confinement, and other barriers often prevent victims from reaching out.

Who Is at Risk for Sex and Human Trafficking?

While anyone can become a victim of sex and human trafficking, traffickers usually target certain populations because they are more likely to fall for their ruse, are easier to control, and are less likely to have family members who will take immediate action to report them missing. These factors make these victims easier to recruit, harbor, and transport.

Traffickers often pursue those who were previous victims of violence, including:

  • Children who were abused or mistreated
  • Victims of sexual assault or rape
  • Those exposed to community and gang violence

They also seek victims who lack a stable support network and have little contact with friends or family. This may include:

  • Foster children and those who recently aged out of the foster care system
  • Runaways
  • Homeless teens and young adults
  • Unaccompanied minors
  • Those far from home because of a natural or personal disaster

Others who are at an increased risk of being targeted by a trafficker in the United States include:

  • Teens involved in the juvenile justice system
  • Native Americans and Alaska Natives
  • Migrant workers, especially foreign-born workers
  • Those who do not speak English
  • People with disabilities
  • People in the LGBTQ community

Sex and human trafficking occurs in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., as well as all U.S. territories. This is both a national and global concern. Sex and human traffickers recruit victims in large cities, suburbs, agricultural areas, and rural areas. They come from a wide range of backgrounds and have a wide range of educational levels.

In the United States, most victims of sex and human trafficking are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. However, just under half are citizens of another country, most commonly Mexico or the Philippines. Some of them were likely recruited in their home country and brought to the U.S., but many were likely already in the country.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, some of the top reasons why victims of sex and human trafficking do not escape from their captors include:

  • Language barriers
  • Fear of the trafficker
  • Fear or distrust of law enforcement
  • Physical confinement or restraint

How to Spot Sex and Human Trafficking

Knowing how to spot the signs of sex and human trafficking may help you identify those who need assistance, prevent yourself or a loved one from becoming a victim, or even identify that someone you trust is victimizing or attempting to victimize you.

It can be difficult to recognize the signs of sex and human trafficking, and most traffickers go to great lengths to prevent others from detecting what is happening. The Department of Homeland Security reports that if you see several of these indicators, the person may be a victim of sex and human trafficking:

  • They appear anxious, nervous, or paranoid.
  • They are overly submissive and fearful.
  • They are especially frightened by the mention of law enforcement.
  • They do not make eye contact.
  • They are very underweight and may appear pale and in poor health.
  • They have physical signs of abuse such as bruises, restraint marks around their wrists, and other injuries.
  • They have few or no personal possessions, identification, or other documentation.
  • There is someone else who acts as their handler and insists on being present.
  • They do not know where they are, sometimes including the country or city.
  • They cannot give you an address to where they are staying.
  • They do not know the date, time of year, or other basic information.

In some cases, none of these indicators are obvious to outsiders, yet the person is a victim of sex and human trafficking. In other cases, many of these indicators may be present, but there is another reason that does not point to victimization by a trafficker.

Because the presence or absence of these signs is not definitive proof of trafficking, it is best to report the situation and let someone who handles these cases regularly look into it. This may include:

  • Local law enforcement
  • State or federal agencies
  • The National Human Trafficking Hotline

It can be extremely dangerous to you as well as their victims to try to confront a person you suspect of being a sex and human trafficker. Even alerting a potential victim of trafficking that you are aware of their situation could put them in grave danger. Always reach out to law enforcement or other authorities with any indicators you believe to be signs of sex and human trafficking.

If you are a victim of sex and human trafficking, the National Human Trafficking Hotline can help you put a plan in place for a safe escape: 1(888) 373-7888.

How to Save a Victim of Sex and Human Trafficking

If you believe you have identified a victim of sex and human trafficking, or if the person has asked you to help them get out of a trafficking situation, it is important to put safety first. Taking action on your own to confront a suspected sex and human trafficker could result in putting you, the victim(s), and the general public at risk.

It should always be left up to specially trained law enforcement officers to investigate suspected cases of sex and human trafficking and save victims. Your best option to help save a victim of sex and human trafficking is to call the police or reach out to report a tip to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. This is possible by:

The National Human Trafficking Hotline can help you understand what you witnessed, determine if it is likely sex and human trafficking, provide local resources, and contact law enforcement on your behalf. For more information, visit the National Human Trafficking Hotline website.

How to Protect Yourself and Loved Ones From Sex and Human Trafficking

While anyone can become a victim of sex and human trafficking, you can greatly reduce your risk and the risk of your family falling victim by taking a few simple precautions.

  • Always trust your instincts. If a person or situation makes you uncomfortable, leave.
  • Always ensure a trusted friend or family member knows where you are.
  • Set up safety words with family members to indicate an emergency.
  • Understand your rights. An employer or your partner does not have the right to take your passport, identification, other important documents, or personal possessions without your permission.
  • Memorize the phone number of a trusted relative or friend.
  • Carry your phone or a phone card at all times.
  • If possible, ensure you have cash or a debit card with you at all times in case you need them.
  • If you require medication, always take an extra dose with you.
  • Call 9-1-1 anytime you believe you are in immediate danger.
  • Never go anywhere with a stranger that is not a well-lit, public place.
  • Do not believe offers that seem too good to be true.

By following these tips and ensuring your children understand why it is important to do the same, you can reduce the risk of becoming a victim of a sex and human trafficker. You should know what traffickers are looking for in their victims and avoid the appearance of being an easy target for them. They tend to prefer:

  • Runaways
  • Those without permanent housing
  • Those without a strong social support network
  • Teens and young adults from the foster care system
  • Migrant workers
  • Those who speak little English
  • Others whose socio-economic or family situation makes them vulnerable

It also pays to always follow best practices when it comes to online and social media safety as well. Never publicly share your location, plans, or personal information and ensure your children and teens understand the dangers associated with these actions. Tweens, teens, and others who are vulnerable to “too good to be true” offers and scenarios should never be allowed to interact with strangers online, in video games, on social media, or through any type of private messaging.

It is also a good idea to consider how the many safety apps now available for smartphones and tablets could benefit your family. There are many types of apps available, and many are free or have very low fees. These apps may be useful to help you track your loved ones when they:

  • Meet a stranger for a date
  • Take a rideshare
  • Are out with friends
  • Are in other potentially dangerous situations

Some also allow you to quickly alert friends or authorities and send your location when there is an emergency.

How Can a Lawyer Help Me With My Sex and Human Trafficking Case?

A lawyer can help you with your sex and human trafficking case. They can explain your rights and legal options if you were a victim of sex and human trafficking. You may be able to hold an individual, company, or agency liable for the damages you suffered as a result of being trafficked.

Under federal law, the victims of sex and human trafficking have the right to pursue civil actions against the parties who played a role in their victimization. This includes both the traffickers and others who participated in or enabled it. If you suffered victimization by a sex and human trafficker, you can file a lawsuit to hold those involved responsible and to recover compensation for your damages.

While it is not always possible to identify the individual trafficker in this type of case, an attorney familiar with sex and human trafficking cases may be able to help you identify people and businesses that benefited from or enabled your victimization.

It is not uncommon for a sex and human trafficking ring to use a hotel or motel as their place of business, keeping their victims in the rooms and allowing customers to visit them there. This operation goes on under the noses of hotel staff, who avert their eyes as long as they receive the payment for the rooms each night.

Truck stops are also a common place for sex and human trafficking to occur. A lawyer can also help you hold a truck stop owner liable.

At Newsome Melton, our attorneys want to help you hold those who enabled your victimization accountable. We may be able to identify the trafficker who forced you into sex and human trafficking, as well as seek damages from any businesses that received a financial windfall because of the crime.

A member of the Newsome Melton team can review your case for free today. Our consultations are always confidential, and there is no obligation to sign up for our services.

Who Can Sue for Sex and Human Trafficking?

If you were a victim of sex or human trafficking, or enslaved and forced to work against your will, you have a right to hold those who trafficked you, anyone who facilitated the trafficking, and those who benefited from your victimization accountable. You may be able to take legal action in this type of civil suit if:

  • You were the victim of sex and human trafficking.
  • Your minor child was the victim of sex and human trafficking, and you want to pursue legal action on their behalf.
  • Your immediate family member passed away as the result of sex and human trafficking.
  • You otherwise suffered damages because of a sex and human trafficker.

If you are eligible to file suit in this type of case, you may be able to recover damages that include:

  • Current and future medical bills related to any injury or illness you suffered
  • Psychological care and support expenses
  • Lost wages and diminished earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering damages
  • Punitive damages, in some cases
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Wrongful death damages, when applicable

The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003 gives you the right to file a case in civil court to hold involved parties liable and demand a payout to cover your emotional, physical, and financial damages. Potentially liable parties include:

  • Traffickers
  • Sex and human trafficking ring leaders
  • Hotels and motels where you were held or where sex work occurred
  • Apartments or other locations where you were held

If you were a victim of sex and human trafficking or forced labor, you may be able to file a lawsuit in civil court and hold those who took advantage of you legally accountable. In addition, you may be able to recover significant damages from any person, business, or agency that benefited from the crime.

Let an attorney from Newsome Melton evaluate your case and provide the support you need today. Our consultations are always confidential, and there is no obligation to use our services. Call Newsome Melton today at (888) 808-5977. Your safety is always our top priority.

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