Human Trafficking Safety Plan

These tips were drawn from the National Human Trafficking Hotline Website 

Safety Planning for Human Trafficking

Potential Red Flags for Human Trafficking Situations


Everyone has the potential to discover a human trafficking situation. While the victims may sometimes be kept behind locked doors, they are often hidden right in front of us at, for example, construction sites, restaurants, elder care centers, nail salons, agricultural fields, and hotels. Traffickers’ use of coercion – such as threats of deportation and harm to the victim or their family members – is so powerful that even if you reach out to victims, they may be too fearful to accept your help. Knowing indicators of human trafficking and some follow up questions will help you act on your gut feeling that something is wrong and report it.
Human Trafficking Indicators
While not an exhaustive list, these are some key red flags that could alert you to a potential trafficking situation that should be reported:

  • Living with employer
  • Poor living conditions
  • Multiple people in cramped space
  • Inability to speak to individual alone
  • Answers appear to be scripted and rehearsed
  • Employer is holding identity documents
  • Signs of physical abuse
  • Submissive or fearful
  • Unpaid or paid very little
  • Under 18 and in prostitution
Questions to Ask
Assuming you have the opportunity to speak with a potential victim privately and without jeopardizing the victim’s safety because the trafficker is watching, here are some sample questions to ask to follow up on the red flags you became alert to:
  • Can you leave your job if you want to?
  • Can you come and go as you please?
  • Have you been hurt or threatened if you tried to leave?
  • Has your family been threatened?
  • Do you live with your employer?
  • Where do you sleep and eat?
  • Are you in debt to your employer?
  • Do you have your passport/identification? Who has it?
Where to Get Help
If you believe you have identified someone still in the trafficking situation, alert law enforcement immediately at the numbers provided below. It may be unsafe to attempt to rescue a trafficking victim. You have no way of knowing how the trafficker may react and retaliate against the victim and you.
Call the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-833-900-1010

(information on this point is from https://www.state.gov/j/tip/id/)




Online Safety Tips


Location-Finders in Apps Know that sex traffickers can use the locaion-finder (active in many social apps today) to find you and track your movements. They can also use it to find where you go regularly and "pretend" to meet you "by chance". So do not add people to your friend list in apps unless you know them for a few months and trust them. Public Computers
Public Computers at local public libraries or community centers can be monitored. So be careful when using them.
Search History
Even if you delete your search history, there are programs that people can use to capture all keystrokes on a computer (they can read everything you write) and all websites you visit. So if you share your computer with anyone, you should know about this. Social Media Privacy Settings
Make sure your privacy settings are enabled so you are not sharing your location, personal information or with strangers. Ensure that your photos you take on your cell phone do not include location.
Password Safety
Change passwords and PINs every six months.
Search Yourself
Do a search on Google, Bing, and Yahoo for your full name and city or state to screen all publicly available information that someone can find about you on the Internet. Also, be cautious about having photos of you or your children displayed online.




General Safety Tips


  • Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings.
  • If possible, create safety words with trusted friends/relatives.
  • One word can mean that it is safe to talk and you are alone.
  • A separate word can mean you are not safe.
  • It is also important to communicate what you would like done (cease communication immediately, call 9-1-1, meet somewhere to pick you up, etc.).
  • Contact a long-time trusted friend or family member, co-worker or teacher if you suspect you may be in danger.
  • Your partner/employer should not be in control of your identity documents. They should be safe and secure on your person or in a safe place where you can access them.
  • Memorize the contact information of people you trust in case you are in trouble. Do not share their contact information with people you have only met recently (within the last six months).
  • Do not share lots of personal information or details about your friends or family with people you have met recently (within the last few weeks). Sex traffickers use the information you give them about your friends and family to blackmail you later.
  • If you think you might be in immediate danger or you are experiencing an emergency, contact 9-1-1 first.




Safety Tips & Apps for Smart Phones


It is our opinion, and supported by local authorities, that a cell phone today in the hands of a young person is as powerful and dangerous as carrying a gun. Parents and guardians need to know all passwords and all content of their child's cell phone and social media content at all times. There are a variety of apps for smart phones to keep you or your loved ones safe. Learn about and download the apps that you think would work best for you. A list of common apps is below. The National Human Trafficking Hotline is not affiliated with any of these apps. Remember that technology changes rapidly, so this list should not be considered exhaustive. Consider googling "safety apps" to find more suggestions or solutions.




Safety Tips for Suspicious Employment


Some employment opportunities may raise red flags for sex trafficking. When considering new employment:

  • Do not meet an unknown employer alone.
  • Meet unknown employers in a public place.
  • Verify that the business is legitimate.
  • Do not accept or sign for a position for employment in a different province / state / country without first going to check it out. Do not travel to employment without a trusted adult knowing where you are.
  • Keep all personal information (like travel visas and driver's license, etc.) yourself. Do not give these documents to anyone else. If anyone (including your employer) asks to have these documents, do not give them to them. Report such a person to the authorities.




Safety Tips for International Travel


Some jobs or relationships may involve travel to a different city, province, or country. When considering a suspicious travel opportunity, take the following additional steps to secure safety:

  • Never give your important documents (visa, driver's license, etc.) to anyone else to hold for you.
  • Request address information for employment and/or housing.
  • Request information about travel arrangements and who is expected to pay for travel and any visa or other entry fees.
  • Make copies of important documents for yourself and give some to a trusted friend or relative.
  • Have a ticket home in your name and keep it in a safe place.
  • Provide a trusted friend or relative with information about your travel arrangements.
  • Arrange a time to contact a trusted friend or relative to let them know you arrived safely.
  • Have access to a bank account and have a way to maintain control of your own funds.
  • Take a map of the city you are traveling to and make sure you know how to get from your residence to the bank, Embassy or Consulate (for international travel), police department, or hospital in case of emergency.
  • Know basic phrases in the local language.
  • Know how to access emergency services in that country. If there is an emergency number (equivalent to 9-1-1 in Canada), memorize this number or keep it in a safe place. Memorize the address and contact information for your Embassy or Consulate in that country.
  • Canadian citizens should visit the Registration of Canadians Abroad web page for information on how to register their travel details with the Registration of Canadians Abroad: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration.




Safety Tips for Suspicious or Controlling Relationships


A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that includes ways to keep your family safe. The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers the following safety plan suggestions. While in an abusive relationship

  • Consider the following safety plan suggestions.
  • Try to hide guns, ammunition, knives, and any other weapons that are kept in your home, unless hiding the weapons would further jeopardize your safety. If hiding weapons isn’t possible, at least make them inaccessible to children.
  • Identify areas in your home that are easiest to escape from and are free of potential weapons for an abuser. Try to move to those areas during an argument. Avoid going to rooms with possible hazards. This includes the kitchen, which houses knives and other potential weapons, and the bathroom, which has hard surfaces and most likely doesn’t have a second exit.
  • Try to have a phone accessible at all times. Consider hiding a cell phone in a safe place to use in emergencies. Remember that cell phones can contain GPS technology, so you will want to use a cell phone that's prepaid or doesn't have GPS technology in emergencies.
  • Create a code word with friends and family so they can call for help if violence occurs.
  • Trust your judgment when you sense you're in danger. Sometimes it's best to leave; sometimes it's best to placate the abuser.
  • Make a habit of backing your car into the driveway. Try to keep some gas in your tank at all times.
  • Keep the driver’s door unlocked and lock all other doors. Make a copy of your car key and hide it in the car.
  • If you are under attack and leaving is not possible:
  • Try to move into safe areas of your home.
  • Make yourself physically smaller by curling into a ball and covering your head and face with your hands.
While preparing to leave an abusive relationship
  • Consider the following safety plan suggestions.
  • Get a new phone if your current phone has GPS technology that can't be switched off. Consider getting a new service plan when you move to a new home. If this applies to your phone, get a new one without those features and a new service plan when you move to a new home. Leave your original phone behind.
  • Try to set aside money, even in small amounts. Start your own savings or checking account. Use the address of a trusted friend or family member when setting up the account.
  • Keep a written list of important phone numbers with you.
  • Have a packed bag ready. Keep it hidden in your home or leave the bag with friends, family, or at work if possible. Take the following items:
  • Birth and marriage certificates
  • Driver’s license or other ID card and Social Security card
  • Keys
  • School and medical records
  • Passports, green cards, work permits
  • Protective orders, divorce papers, custody orders
  • Bank statements and credit cards
  • Medications and medicines
  • Talk to staff members at your local domestic violence agency to learn about help they may be able to offer. In an emergency, call 911 first.
After leaving an abusive relationship
Consider the following safety plan suggestions.
  • If you have a protective order, always carry a copy with you. Make and keep copies for work, your car, and your home. Call the police and document when the protective order is broken.
  • Consider letting friends, neighbors, and co-workers know about your situation and how they can help you stay safe. Only confide in people you trust — people with your best interests at heart.
  • Try to carry a cell phone with you, and program it to dial 911. (See notes above about GPS technology.)
  • Change your regular travel habits. Try not to frequent the same stores or businesses you did when you were with your abuser.
  • If you are moving:
  • Consider talking to your local shelter program about temporary shelter or other services it could provide.
  • If you need to conceal your new location, consider an address confidentiality program.
If you are staying in your home:
  • Consider changing your locks or installing stronger doors.
  • If the exchange of children is necessary, arrange a safe, neutral place to do the exchange.
  • If your abuser comes to your home, you do not have to let that person in. Lock the doors and call the police.
Technology safety Follow these general safety tips for using technology.
  • Know that certain cell phone apps (like Snapchat, etc.) can track your location in real time. Cell phones themselves can be tracked for real time location.
  • Know that your computer activity can be monitored or checked by others without your knowledge. It is not possible to delete or clear all of the “footprints” from your computer or online activities. If you are being monitored, it may be dangerous to change your computer behaviors, such as suddenly deleting your entire internet history, if that is not your regular habit.
  • If you think you are being monitored on your home computer, be careful how you use your computer, since an abuser might become suspicious. You may want to keep using your home computer for non-personal activities, such as looking up the weather or reading the news. Use a safer computer (i.e. one located outside of your home) to research an escape plan, look for new jobs or apartments, buy bus tickets, or to ask for help.
  • If you use a cell phone, be aware that even calls that are toll-free will likely show up on your phone bill. If you are on a joint plan or access your phone bill online, others (including your abuser) may have access to it. Consider making calls to shelters, attorneys, or other confidential services from a pay phone or prepaid cell phone.
Following these suggestions is not a guarantee of safety, but applying them to your own situation could increase your level of safety in an abusive relationship. You may be able to complete a more detailed, specific safety plan with a local domestic violence advocate. Look in a phone book under domestic violence, women’s shelters, or crisis intervention.
(from https://extension.umn.edu/divorce-and-other-family-transitions/safety-planning-and-abusive-relationships)




Safety Tips when Leaving a Human Trafficking Situation


In some cases, leaving or attempting to leave a trafficking situation may increase the risk of violence. It is important to trust your judgment when taking steps to ensure your safety.

  • If you are unsure of your current location, try to determine any indication of your locality such as street signs outside the residence or place of employment, or newspapers/magazines/mail that may have the address listed.
  • If it is safe to go outside, see if the address is listed anywhere on the building.
  • If there are people nearby and it is safe to speak with them, ask them about your current location.
  • If you are ever in immediate danger, the quickest way to access help is to call 9-1-1.
  • Plan an escape route or exit strategy and rehearse it.
  • Keep any important documents on or near you to be ready for immediate departure.
  • Prepare a bag with any important documents/items and a change of clothes.
  • Keep a written copy of important numbers on you at all times in case your phone is taken or destroyed at any point. Memorize important numbers/hotlines.
  • Think about your next steps after you leave the situation.
  • Contact trusted friends or relatives to notify them or to ask for assistance if you feel comfortable.
  • Coming Soon: Contact the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline (Site) to obtain local referrals for shelter or other social services and support. The Hotline can also connect you with specialized law enforcement referrals. However, if you are ever in immediate danger, contact 9-1-1 first.
  • During violent or explosive situations avoid dangerous rooms.
  • Examples of Dangerous Rooms: kitchen (knives, sharp utensils, pots), garage (tools, sharp objects), bathroom (hard surfaces, no exits), basement (hard surfaces, no exits), rooms where weapons are kept and rooms without an exit.
  • Examples of Safer Rooms: front room, yard or apartment hallway where a neighbor might see or hear an incident.
  • Develop a special signal (lights flickering on and off, code word, code text message, hand signal, etc.) to use with a trusted neighbor, relative, friend or service provider to notify them that you are in danger.
  • It is important to proactively communicate what action steps you would like taken (call 9-1-1, check-in, pick the children up, etc.).
  • If you have children who are also in the trafficking situation, explain to them that it isn’t their responsibility to protect you, and make sure that they know how to call someone for help, where to hide during a violent incident, and practice your plan of departure with them.





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