The text 'Can you see me?' over an image teenage boy in a grey, white, and blue school uniform in a school hallway looks distressed while being shown an image of himself without clothes on, on a smart phone. In the background, two teenage girls in similar school uniforms are  laughing at the image on a smart phone.

Human Trafficking Myths

  • Myth: Disclosing to police brings immediate relief for Survivors.
  • Fact: For Survivors, the process of disclosing their victimization to police is often traumatic. Many have a deep fear of law enforcement and have extreme panic and confusion while interacting with police. Survivors then are asked to provide a statement to police regarding their abuse, which is further traumatizing. Disclosing to police is not the final step to freedom for each Survivor, but, rather, it is the beginning of a lifelong process of healing.

  • Myth: Victims and traffickers are usually strangers.
  • Fact: In many cases, victims are familiar with their traffickers. A trafficker could be a family friend, a significant other, a close relative or someone who has built a close friendship or romantic relationship. When the trafficker already has a connection to the victim, it can be easier to compel the victim into the sex trade.

  • Myth: All trafficking victims are women.
  • Fact: It is true that the majority of human trafficking victims are women, however, boys, men, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ2S+) may be at particular risk for sex trafficking as well. The misconception that males are rarely or never affected can be dangerous, leading to fewer preventative and aftercare programs specifically targeted towards those who identify as male or as LGBTQ2S+.

  • Myth: All traffickers are men.
  • Fact: While the majority of traffickers are men, women also play a prominent role in trafficking. Some female offenders were once victims themselves and are now the trafficker’s “bottom”. A bottom is a female appointed by the trafficker/pimp to supervise the others and report rule violations. Operating as his “right hand,” the Bottom may help instruct victims, collect money, book hotel rooms, post ads, or inflict punishments on the other victims.

  • Myth: Human trafficking victims will attempt to seek help when in public.
  • Fact: Human trafficking is often a hidden crime. Victims may be afraid to come forward and get help; they may be forced or coerced through threats or violence; they may fear retribution from traffickers, including danger to their families; and they may not be in possession of or have control of their identification documents or have access to a phone. Many victims are also geographically isolated making it difficult to report to police.

  • Myth: Human trafficking only occurs in low income families.
  • Fact: Human trafficking can affect any individual, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, family income, social status, or sexual orientation. Individuals from well-adjusted, caring families may become victims of trafficking.

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