Human trafficking is a form of undue influence and a serious global issue. Pimps and traffickers control the environment, access to information, relationships – every aspect of a person’s life – using techniques that manipulate how a person thinks, feels and acts. Using the lens of undue influence, activists, social workers, law enforcement, and mental health professionals can better learn how pimps and traffickers recruit, how to spot current victims, how to ethically intervene in a trafficking case, and how to help trafficking survivors recover from their experience.
Sex trafficking refers to when a person is coerced, deceived, pressured, or forced into prostitution. Often those targeted are vulnerable and come from a history of abuse or are runaways. The pimp or trafficker wants someone who will align with their rules: someone that can be viewed as an asset, not a liability. They look for easy ways to break a person, seeking nothing less than to create a dependent, willing, and obedient slave. With their minds controlled in such a way, the victim may appear to be an active participant in their suffering for the profit of the pimp. However, mind control does not erase the person’s old identity; it creates a new obedient one to suppress the original self.
Labor trafficking is another form of trafficking, further split into bonded labor, forced labor, and child labor. Forced labor, or involuntary servitude, is work or services provided under the threat of violence or punishment. It is one of the most common types of labor and often associated with slavery. Bonded labor is when an individual is paying off a debt or a loan through their work. Child labor is using children as cheap or free labor in factories, workshops, and other places.
For additional information, check out the FBI bulletin, A Victim-Centered Approach to Sex Trafficking Cases by Larry Alvarez, M.S., and Jocelyn Cañas-Moreira