There is no single profile of a trafficking victim or survivor. 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.
As provided in An Ongoing Commitment to Victims of Human Trafficking, as of 2021, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) manages the largest amount of funding across the Federal Government dedicated to providing services to victims of human trafficking. In this capacity, OVC strives to uphold the intent of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and its subsequent reauthorizations to ensure that all trafficking victims—regardless of immigration status, gender, or form of trafficking—receive support in accessing the services they need to heal in the aftermath of crime victimization.
Additionally, through contracts and cooperative agreements, OVC manages a broad array of training and technical assistance for victim service providers, law enforcement and allied professionals, with a focus on enhancing the quality and quantity of services available to trafficking victims and grants to build capacity.
Through the funding of rigorous research, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is committed to assisting with the detection and prosecution of human traffickers and to supporting the recovery of victims.
Estimating the prevalence of human trafficking is difficult. 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.
Visit the following pages for additional information and resources produced or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs and other federal agencies: