A special report by Isabella Boston
Sex trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery and is more prevalent today than ever before. It is a world-wide issue in which an individual is sold repeatedly for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
Anyone can fall victim to sex trafficking including men, women, and children. However, certain groups of people are at higher risk and are more vulnerable than others. Those who lack a support network, are homeless, or are runaways are prime targets as it is easier for a trafficker to deceive, groom, and control their victim.
There are many ways in which a sex trafficker will hunt for their next target including places such as malls, schools, and social media. They will even search for prey in the grocery stores. No place is exempt.
However, there are certain precautions you can take to protect yourself and loved ones. Here is a list of some basic tips to help you stay safe.
How to Protect Yourself
1. Avoid walking alone ~ When possible, avoid traveling alone. When you must, stay away from secluded and quiet areas especially at night. Keep something in your hands that can be used as a weapon such as car keys or pepper spray. If you have nothing, look for something such as a rock, stick, or anything that will cause damage. Remember, your life may depend on it. And don’t be afraid to make lots of noise. Scream for help.
2. Be aware of your surroundings ~ Always be vigilant of your surroundings. Avoid being distracted by your phone. It is not the time to be looking around in your purse, browsing social media, or anything else. It is vital that you are completely focused to everything around you. Avoid wearing earphones as you cannot hear anyone coming up behind you. If you are lost, never appear so. Look confident and seek a safe place to ask for help.
3. Always trust your instincts ~ If something does not feel right, trust that! Do not second guess yourself or feel foolish. Your intuition is talking to you. Follow it and take the necessary precautions, because it could be a matter of life, death, or worse.
4. Do not trust easily ~ Traffickers will approach a victim anywhere and make certain offers such as a modeling opportunity, a singing career, or a promising job. Some will even try to first establish a friendship to gain trust so they can trick you later.
5. Women can also be sex traffickers ~ Don’t trust a stranger just because she is female. Women are sex traffickers too and, in my opinion, the worst kind. As human beings, we are more trusting of women. They remind us of our sisters, mothers, or friends. Women sex traffickers see this as a weakness and will use this against their victim to trick, deceive, and lure them in. It is the ultimate betrayal.
6. Be vigilant in parking lots ~ Traffickers will wait for you in the parking lot. Watch for any suspicious activity such as a painter’s van nearby. These types of vehicles are large, have no windows, and are the perfect way for a trafficker to abduct their victim. If a suspicious vehicle is parked near your car, especially if it wasn’t there when you initially parked it, do not go near your car! Go somewhere safe and call for help.
7. Be vigilant when driving ~ If you believe you are being followed when driving, do not go home. Get 911 on the phone and drive to the nearest police department. Give as much information to the dispatcher as possible such as vehicle description (color, make, model), suspect description, and your location. Stay on the phone until help arrives.
8. Use social media wisely ~ Do not post personal information on social media such as your address, phone number, or any other private information. Turn off your location settings and make sure your posts are only visible to your friends and family. Avoid “checking in” to places on social media especially while you are at them. Set your privacy settings to “private” and block any unwanted messages from strangers. Report any suspicious activity to the social media platform you are using. There is usually a “report” button for this.
9. Meet strangers in public ~ Never tell anyone where you live until you know them well. Whether it’s a date or a business meeting, always meet in public. Stay in touch with close friends or family members and make sure they always know your whereabouts.
10. Talk to your children ~ Have age-appropriate conversations with your children about sex trafficking. Ask them about any suspicious acitivities from strangers and teach them how to protect themselves. Learn more here from Deliver Fund. See the below chart from author and sex traffikking survivor Sandy Storm for suggestions on how to speak with your children
Traffickers will prey on young people and runaways. If you, or someone you know, are having problems at home or are in an abusive situation, please contact an organization for help. National Runaway Safeline 24/7 will listen to you in a nonjudging way, find you shelter, and provide counseling. The phone number is 1-800-RUNAWAY or 1-800-786-2929.
To learn more or to get help for yourself or someone else who may be a victim of sex trafficking, please visit the National Human Trafficking Hotline Website. Phone number is 1-888-373-7888.
Stay informed, be vigilant, and stay safe.
Isabella Boston is a multi-talented writer and the Founder of Bella’s Attic Studio. She has several years of experience in content writing, copywriting, and social media strategies. She is the author of the romantic and rare memoir, Passion of Flames. Isabella is currently working to spread awareness on the dangers and inhumanity of human sex trafficking. She has special interests in fashion and beauty, health and wellness, and natural healing as it pertains to the body, mind and soul. When Isabella is not writing , she enjoys playing the violin, learning new languages (currently Italian), and reading books of substance.