We live in a good neighbourhood, have respectable families here. All my co-workers and friends are all ‘decent’ people, so there is no way it could happen to anyone I know, right?
- The signs that someone you know and or love are being human trafficked.
Different hairstyles, new clothes, different friends, always on her phone, probably just means she mature, or has a new boyfriend right?
It’s subtle and sneaky!
You have to ‘want’ to see them, and for most of us we do not want to, or we did not know we needed to be looking for the signs.
Whether it is your child, friend or coworker, there are always signs that something is not right in their lives (victims), but most times, we don’t take the time to notice, or if we do, we think “not my problem” and bury our heads in the sand a bit further.
Did you know that about half (45%) of all victims of police-reported human trafficking were between the ages of 18 and 24. Nearly three in ten victims (28%) were under the age of 18, and the remainder (26%) were 25 years of age or older.* That means that your sister, cousins, friends, co-workers and closer to home, your daughters could be targeted, so you have to learn the signs.
Anyone who is ‘getting involved in a relationship’, could be someone who is getting groomed. On the outside, it all looks normal. But there are signs they are being groomed to be human trafficked, subtle signs. So subtle you have to look for them to see them.
- How is it even possible for someone to be Human Trafficked in Canada and family and friends NOT know it:
During the early stages, it is thrilling. They have been told, ‘don’t tell anyone and as the ‘secret’ is fun they play along. Or their ‘boyfriend’ has told them, “your parents and friends won’t understand our kind of relationship” so let’s just keep it quiet for now. They obey because it adds a layer of excitement to it all. It probably looks like a regular relationship, but there are subtle things, that at first you just cannot put your finger on. Gradually, you start to notice that he tries to come between the “girlfriend’ and her parents, siblings, and friends. Doing what he can to separate them from loved ones.
- They are being groomed, and they do not know it yet
Them obeying is the first step for the ‘groomer’ to know they have someone who is pliable and someone who would be a good candidate to be Human Trafficked. Someone who is willing to not only ‘break the rules’ but is excited to do so.
This is the honeymoon stage of being Human trafficked, and the victim doesn’t even know it. They feel euphoric. Someone loves them and not only loves them they magically have the same dreams, same hopes, same goals. They are perfect in every way, and ‘the boyfriend’ takes care of them in every way. Ensuring that everything they want, or need is taken care of. The victim has no clue that a trap is being set. Little do they know that their ‘relationship’ is not ‘their knight on a white horse’, but a ‘pimp’.
Those of us looking on, usually do not feel comfortable about what we are seeing if we bother to notice at all, but we just assume it is relationship issues and ‘they will work it out’. Or we ask questions, but not the hard ones. Not the ones that would give you the answers you need to know for sure if this was someone getting trafficked or not.
- There are many different things we could be looking for that are quite simple that might be signs they are being groomed or are already being trafficked.
- Their nail and hair are being done differently and or more often.
- They have new clothes
- A second cell phone.
- They have hotel/motel key cards.
- They have unexplained absences.
- Their grades are dropping due to not being in school when you think they are.
- They have a change of friends.
- Their routines have changed.
- The way they eat has changed.
- The clothing style has changed
- They are more irritable, or despondent
Any or all of these things could indicate that there is a problem. That problem could be that they are being groomed, Human Trafficked or their boyfriend or friends are abusive.
It could mean they just found a new set of friends and they are adapting to them. They could be suffering from low self-esteem and or depression and they are trying to figure out ways of overcoming those.
- Guilt and shame are the biggest reasons people will not share what is happening to them.
Taking the initiative and starting the conversation without judgement is key and the only way to find out if they are being ‘groomed’, or if they are just dealing with something difficult. But that conversation HAS to be had. Check out Courage for Freedom and or other organizations that have some great resources to help you learn more.
- No matter the reason for any changes in behaviour or their lifestyles, a conversation is a great idea.
Checking in with them to see how they are doing or to ask how you can help them is always welcomed. Anyone, but especially those that are being trafficked will need someone showing them that they are thought of and that someone cares.
We will do a follow up with a blog soon on what that conversation should look like