Signal for help

It’s been a long day at work and you’re scrolling through social media on your phone. Nothing but the regular how-to videos or the regular funny cat memes. The next video catches your eye however.

On the outside it seems to be a regular video blog post, a woman updating her audience on her day, but there is something that just doesn’t feel right. The energy is off. There is no light in her eyes even though she is smiling. As she gestures with her hands you see her pause a little longer with her palm facing you and then trapping her thumb with her fingers. She moves on without notice to the hand, still smiling. Curiously you look through her older videos and you see that she does that in almost every one that you watch. Weeks later it turns out that she had been rescued as a victim of a human trafficking ring.

While this story itself is fictional it is the reality for thousands of people every day.

Kidnapped and sold into captivity. Human trafficking can take many forms that aren’t always as obvious as one might think. While the majority of victims are sexually abused oftentimes victims will be held for domestic labor that the public might not notice at first glance. It may not always be as dramatic as a kidnapping either. Sometimes trickery or manipulation are how victims are lured into captivity.

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline over 10,000 cases were identified in 2021 with over 16,000 victims involved. Over 50,000 signals were received in the year of 2021 which are vital in the search to end human trafficking.

When trying to identify victims of abuse one should look for confusion, timidness, and signs of physical or emotional abuse. Do they look as if they are being denied medical care, food or water or living in unsuitable conditions? Do they appear to be coached on what to say? These are some but not all of the indicators to watch out for when possibly identifying victims.

The S.O.S hand signal has also been spreading across the internet and has been integral in discreetly signaling to unknowing witnesses of human trafficking. It has also shown potential to be of use to domestic abuse victims, many of which also fall under the human trafficking umbrella.

If you or someone you know is a victim of Human Trafficking, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-(888) 373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to 233733.

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