There is no single profile of a trafficking victim. Regardless of race, national origin, religion, age, gender, education level, or citizenship status, victims of human trafficking can be anyone.
While there is no defining characteristic that all human trafficking victims share, traffickers frequently prey on individuals who are poor, vulnerable, living in an unsafe situation, or searching for a better life. These victims are deceived by false promises of love, a good job, or a stable life and are lured or forced into situations where they are made to work under deplorable conditions with little or no pay.
Just as there is no one type of trafficking victim, perpetrators of this crime also vary. Traffickers can be foreign nationals or U.S. citizens, family members, partners, acquaintances, and even strangers.
In July 2020, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) supported the development of the Human Trafficking Outreach Toolkit, which provides resources related to trauma-informed outreach and methods to increase outreach effectiveness and inclusivity. Outreach is the first opportunity to build rapport and establish safety with a client. To connect with survivors, outreach must be created and conducted using trauma-informed best practices to foster trustworthiness, avoid re-traumatization, and dismantle barriers to service.
Additionally, the OVC-operated Human Trafficking Capacity Building Center provides free services to help organizations and tribes start, sustain, or grow their anti-trafficking work.
Through the funding of rigorous research, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is working to advance the understanding of the nature and extent of human trafficking; how to improve the detection, investigation, and prosecution of traffickers; and how to address the needs of victims and provide needed services.
Research supported by NIJ has shown that human trafficking crimes may be undercounted in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting program. The need for accurate identification and reporting is critical in addressing trafficking crimes and supporting law enforcement, providers, and victims. The study presents recommendations on how law enforcement can better identify and report trafficking cases, starting with guidance for front line officers.
Also, see the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention site to learn about efforts to prevent incidents of trafficking and to support services to youth victims.
Visit the following pages for additional information and resources produced or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs and other federal agencies: