Human Trafficking: Learn to Recognize the Signs and Help Save a Life

Human Trafficking: Learn to Recognize the Signs and Help Save a Life

Danielle Bastien, Henry Ford Health System

Trafficking is a Large-Scale Issue of Undue Influence

Meet Emergency Room nurse, Danielle Jordan Bastein. Kudos to her! Danielle has pioneered the development of a new protocol to more systematically identify warning factors for the ER that a patient might be a trafficking victim. Trafficking victims almost always suffer a myriad of health problems and it is in the ER, that an important opportunity to offer them help exists.  This crucial screening protocol would train nurses and other health care workers to ask the right questions and do the right assessment to flag a potential victim. I strongly suggest watching the video in the link above to understand more about this new system, which I believe should be used in every Emergency Room in the world.

People have intervened as good Samaritans sometimes when they see a young person, usually a girl, who is dressed provocatively, with an older man, and “picture” does not fit. However intervening with a pimp is not advised, rather summoning a law enforcement person is the correct action. It can be very dangerous to the young person as well as yourself.

February 3rd, 2019 was Super Bowl VIII, where fans gathered in Atlanta, GA for sportsmanship and competition. However, what many do not know is that there is usually a large increase in sex trafficking during large sporting events, including the Super Bowl. And Atlanta is one of the largest hubs of sex trafficking nationwide.  This past weekend was no exception, with a large-scale sting resulting in dozens of arrests. Atlanta was also the place where the famous musician R. Kelly is alleged to have committed sexual abuse and exploitation of an underage girl as well as other women in a personality “cult.”  A new documentary that sheds light on these has generated a lot of media and outrage. Lady Gaga apologized and withdrew a collaboration song Do What U Want she had done with R. Kelly. Good for her!

Carissa Phelps shares her inspiring true story about finding the courage to seek healing and finding the strength to blaze a trail for other survivors in her book and through her company Runaway Girl. Carissa had the vision to understand the significance of understanding pimp and trafficker mind control used to recruit and indoctrinate people into commercial slavery. With Carissa, Rachel Thomas and D’Lita Miller, we co-developed a curriculum (much credit goes to Rachel Thomas) to help survivors understand mind control called Ending The Game. We also have a trafficking video playlist on our Youtube channel. I even blogged about this trafficking just last month, Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Human trafficking is a variation of undue influence. Trafficking rings function as commercial cults, with pimps and traffickers as their cult leaders. They use the same basic methods (outlined in the BITE Model) to recruit, control, and exploit victims.

“Human Trafficking” refers to both labor trafficking and sex trafficking. Pimps and traffickers often beat, rape, torture, and threaten their victims to ensure compliance. They take away passports and other documents needed to travel freely. They often give victims a new name, new identity, new clothing, even a new language. They often initiate drug addiction in order to keep their victims dependent on them for a steady supply and to numb them to the pain of their horrific circumstances.

Regarding the rhetoric coming from the White House concerning traffickers and the call to build a Wall, Lisa Goldblatt Grace of My Life My Choice (I am glad to have given a four-hour training workshop for them) explains that while news reports have recently circulated about a steady flow of kidnapped trafficking victims being brought over from the U.S.-Mexico border, this is simply not true. Trafficking victims from other countries are more frequently brought to the U.S. through legal means, coercion and seduction are more frequent tactics used on trafficking victims in the U.S., and two-thirds of trafficking victims in the U.S. are U.S. citizens.

Learn to Recognize Trafficked Girls

Shared Hope International has created the following lists to recognize characteristics of pimps and signs of girls being trafficked:

Pimps/traffickers often exhibit the following behaviors or characteristics:

  • Jealous, controlling and violent
  • Significantly older than female companions
  • Promise things that seem too good to be true
  • Encourage victims to engage in illegal activities to achieve their goals and dreams
  • Buys expensive gifts or owns expensive items
  • Is vague about his/her profession
  • Pushy or demanding about sex
  • Encourages inappropriate sexual behavior
  • Makes the victim feel responsible for his/her financial stability. Very open about financial matters.

Warning signs that an individual is being trafficked:

  • Signs of physical abuse such as burn marks, bruises or cuts
  • Unexplained absences from class
  • Less appropriately dressed than before
  • Sexualized behavior
  • Overly tired in class
  • Withdrawn, depressed, distracted or checked out
  • Brags about making or having lots of money
  • Displays expensive clothes, accessories or shoes
  • New tattoo (tattoos are often used by pimps as a way to brand victims. Tattoos of a name, symbol of money or barcode could indicate trafficking)
  • Older boyfriend or new friends with a different lifestyle
  • Talks about wild parties or invites other students to attend parties
  • Shows signs of gang affiliation? (ie: a preference for specific colors, notebook doodles of gang symbols, etc.)

How Can You Help?

If you suspect sex trafficking, contact one of these hotlines:

Remember, reporting suspicious activity can save lives!

Learn More


BBC News released an episode of their Facebook Watch series, #CutThroughTheNoise, dealing with the Super Bowl and trafficking. You can watch it here.

For more information, please check out the following resources:

Human Trafficking Hotline

Runaway Girl

Ending the Game

My Life My Choice

Prevent Human Trafficking

Ready. Inspire. Act. RIA House

Video Blog


Steven Hassan

Steven Hassan, PhD, MA, MEd, LMHC, NCC has helped thousands of individuals and families recover from undue influence (mind control). With over 40 years of experience, he is sought after as one of the foremost authorities on undue influence and controlling groups and individuals. Steve understands the subject from a unique perspective as both a former cult member and as a clinical professional.

Steven is the Founding Director of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center, a coaching, consulting, and training organization dedicated to supporting individuals to have the freedom to think clearly and to freely consider how they want to live their lives.  Steven pioneered a breakthrough method called the Strategic Interactive Approach (SIA), an effective and legal alternative for families to help cult members.  The SIA teaches family and friends how to strategically influence the individual involved in the cult.

Contact Freedom of Mind to schedule a consultation or to learn about offered services.

Learn about how the Strategic Interactive Approach can help rescue your friend or loved one out from under predatory influence.

Subscribe to receive updates on news, events, blogs, videos, webinars, and workshops.

Steven HassanHuman Trafficking: Learn to Recognize the Signs and Help Save a Life

Related Posts