January is known nationwide as Human Trafficking Awareness Month, but how much do you know about this crime?
Human trafficking, also known as modern day slavery, is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that occurs on every continent and in every country and state. In 2016 there were 5,748 human trafficking cases in the United States, 1,012 in California alone. Of the 3,130 calls made to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline last year in California, the largest percentage were from people who suspected human trafficking within their own communities.
Given these statistics, it’s likely you have come across a victim of human trafficking without even knowing it. She could be the woman next to you on the bus you take to work. She could be a little girl in your daughter’s class. He could be the one who picks the fruit you purchase at the local grocery store. Victims can be hard to identify because they look like us, and are often hidden in plain sight.
Even though victims may be all around us, we may not notice them because we don’t know what to look for.
Public awareness is one of the most important tools we have to fight human trafficking. By learning to recognize the signs and raising awareness in our communities, we can all take part in fighting this horrific epidemic.
A victim could be someone who:
- Is not free to leave or come and go as they wish
- Is unpaid, paid very little or paid only through tips
- Shows signs of physical or sexual abuse, physical restraint or confinement
- Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense or nervous/paranoid
CalVCB was established over 50 years ago and remains the largest compensation program in the nation. We recognize that victims of human trafficking are often hesitant to come forward, but we work with victim advocates and service providers to ensure victims get the help they need to move forward with their lives.
If you believe you know a victim of human trafficking or have information about a potential human trafficking situation, please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
Julie Nauman is the Executive Officer for the California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB). CalVCB provides compensation for victims of violent crime.