Signs of Sex Trafficking

Identifying victims can be difficult. Even though trafficking doesn’t require movement, some victims are moved frequently. They have been told by their exploiters to mistrust adults, particularly law enforcement. They have been trained to lie about their ages or activities. And often, they don’t think of themselves as victims.

However, some signs may include:
  • Over-sexualized behavior
  • Controlling older companion, “boyfriend,” or “girlfriend”
  • Highly controlled or restricted schedule, money, or communications
  • Unidentifiable source of income, large amounts of cash, or unexplained source of new clothing and personal items
  • Bruises or other physical signs of abuse
  • A tattoo that the young person is reluctant to explain (for instance, being “branded” with an exploiter’s name on the neck, chest, or arms)
  • Gaps in life story or defensiveness in response to questions or concerns
  • Malnourishment
  • Untreated health and dental problems
This list is not complete and more questions must be asked to determine if sex trafficking has occurred.