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Refuse to Do Nothing
Finding Your Power to Abolish Modern-Day Slavery
By Shayne Moore and Kimberly McOwen Yim

Modern-day slavery is happening right under our noses and yet we often don't see it. Do we know what to look for? What questions do we ask? What do "doesn't seem right" and "something odd" look like?

It's true that we are busy. We run to the carpool line, pick up dry cleaning, go to the grocery store, and we often don't notice the many people we encounter as we go through our days. Despite this, we all have time to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline number if we notice something suspicious: 888-373-7888. Take a minute and enter this number into your cell phone contacts list.

Below is a list of everyday places where slavery has been documented in the United States, as well as signs that someone may be a human trafficking victim. As you read through the list, keep in mind the places and people around your town who work in these types of environments. You may want to mark or copy these pages for future reference. Also, please put the National Human Trafficking Hotline number in your phone and address book: 888-373- 7888. Did we mention this already? Yep, and it is that important.

Where to Look for Slavery

Here are some common places and situations where slavery has been known to flourish:

  1. Housecleaning services
  2. Landscape and gardening businesses
  3. Households in which domestic home workers are present
  4. Large-scale agricultural operations
  5. Construction sites
  6. Casinos
  7. Garment factories
  8. Hotels (especially in housekeeping departments)
  9. Nail salons
  10. Migrant or transitional communities
  11. Zones known for prostitution
  12. Strip clubs
  13. Massage parlors
  14. Domestic violence situations

Following are some signs that someone might be a human trafficking victim. Any one of these signs should be enough to raise concern and  a reason to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline or local law enforcement. A person might be a human trafficking victim if he or she

  1. is not free to come and go as he or she wishes
  2. is not free to change employers
  3. is afraid to discuss him or herself in the presence of others
  4. does not control his or her earnings
  5. is unpaid, paid very little or paid only through tips
  6. has few or no personal possessions
  7. is not in control of his or her own money or has no financial records or bank account
  8. is not in control of his or her own identification documents (e.g., ID, passport, visa)
  9. is not allowed or able to speak for himself or herself (i.e., a third party insists on being present or interpreting)
  10. has an attorney that he or she doesn't seem to know or to have agreed to receive representation services from
  11. works excessively long or unusual hours
  12. is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
  13. owes a large or increasing debt and is unable to pay it off
  14. was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his or her work
  15. is living or working in a location with high security measures (e.g., opaque or boarded-up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras)
  16. exhibits unusually fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, nervous or paranoid behavior
  17. reacts with unusually fearful or anxious behavior at any reference to law enforcement
  18. avoids eye contact
  19. exhibits a flat affect (e.g., doesn't display emotion, seems blank or empty, unresponsive)
  20. exhibits unexplained injuries or signs of prolonged or untreated illness or disease
  21. appears malnourished
  22. is under eighteen years of age and is providing commercial sex acts
  23. is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp or manager
  24. shows signs of physical or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement or torture
  25. has been "branded" by a trafficker (e.g., a tattoo of the trafficker's name)
  26. claims to be "just visiting" and is unable to clarify where he or she is
  27. exhibits a lack of knowledge of whereabouts or does not know what city he or she is in
  28. exhibits a loss of a sense of time
  29. has numerous inconsistencies in his or her story

In addition, a young person might be caught up in sex trafficking if he or she:

  1. has unexplained absences from school for a period of time
  2. is unable to attend school on a regular basisrepeatedly runs away from home
  3. makes references to frequent travel to other cities
  4. exhibits bruises or other physical trauma, withdrawn behavior, depression or fear
  5. lacks control over her or his schedule or identification documents
  6. is hungry or malnourished and inappropriately dressed based on weather conditions or surroundings
  7. shows signs of drug addiction

When we first learned of the millions of people enslaved in our world today, we wished we were young again, when we thought we could take on the world. We were fired up and wanted to correct injustice. But we grieved because we thought there was not a thing we could do. . . .

Once we got over the desire to find a grandiose response to the injustices of slavery and to punch bad guys in the face, we moved forward in the small, meaningful actions that are needed every day. We came to realize we could help right where we were, right in this season of life, right in our neighborhoods—we are the cement in this modern abolitionist movement. We continue to be busy moms; however, today we live our lives intentionally aware of our surroundings and our neighbors. Slavery still exists in my backyard, but I know now I have resources and power to fight it.

Adapted from Chapter 9, "Be the Nosy Neighbor," Refuse to Do Nothing: Finding Your Power to Abolish Modern-Day Slavery