BY AMANDA KLOER
If we want to eliminate slavery from this country, we must do it ourselves, one citizen at a time, and working together. Almost every major positive change in our country was accomplished through grassroots effort. From the ante-bellum abolitionist movement, to the legal recognition of the rights of women, to the Civil Rights movement, the demand came first from the people, not the politicians. It is within our grasp to end slavery in America once and for all, but each of us has to reach for it; if we wait for it to be handed to us, people will live and die in slavery for many years to come. As a first step, we can all pledge to recognize human trafficking and what to do with our suspicions. To learn more about how we can end slavery, buy the book The Slave Next Door here.
I. Spotting a Trafficking Victim
Be on the lookout for possible signs of a trafficking victim, like the presence of physical injuries or untreated infections; fearful, reluctant generally withdrawn demeanor; inability to answer very simple questions because of their isolation; self-blame; emotional attachment to the trafficker; inability to move about freely; lives and works in the same place; overseen by others all the time. The best defense against modern-day slavery is a vigilant public. Be a nosy neighbor. Slavery often comes to light because a member of the public sees something odd and speaks up.
II. Where to Look for Victims
There are a surprising number of places on the job and in the community where you might come across a human trafficking victim. Some places include emergency rooms, hospitals, and doctors offices; suburban neighborhoods; strip clubs and massage parlors; bus and train stations, gas stations, and truck stops; public restrooms; landscaping crews; construction sites; private homes;
These are just a few of the situations in which you might encounter a victim of trafficking; there are many more – restaurants, sweatshops, laundries – limited only by the innovativeness of the trafficker. And please remember: If you hear about or uncover what you think could be a trafficking situation, great care and sensitivity must be shown in speaking with possible victims, and the best course is to call a trained professional. Remember, you’re not an action hero, and traffickers are dangerous criminals who may harm you. Don’t attempt to solve the situation yourself- dial the Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline: 1-888-373-7888, anytime day or night.