How Traffickers Choose Their Victims

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that involves exploiting vulnerable individuals for various forms of labor, sexual exploitation, or other purposes. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), over 40 million people are victims of human trafficking worldwide, with women and children being the most vulnerable. 

While certain individuals may be more vulnerable than others, traffickers are skilled at identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities in people. Therefore, it is essential to understand the tactics that traffickers use and to remain vigilant in the fight against this heinous crime. Continue reading to learn who is most defenseless to human traffickers and how they lure them.


What Makes People Vulnerable to Human Traffickers?

Victims are often targeted by traffickers because of their vulnerability. Therefore, the first step in the process is to identify a victim, and traffickers look for individuals who:


Have Been Abused or Neglected by Their Families

Traffickers will approach these individuals with promises of love, acceptance, and a better life. But unfortunately, many victims, including children, have been abandoned by their families due to mental illness or substance abuse problems. In these cases, traffickers pose as caring friends, gaining their trust and seemingly trying to help someone with nowhere else to go.


Have Limited Opportunities or Access to Resources

Traffickers often look for people who are desperate and in need of money. They might also target lonely individuals who are more likely to trust strangers and be influenced by them. They often approach their victims at bus stops, train stations, or the street. 

In exchange for work, they may offer food or shelter. Often, the work they initially offer is something simple like massage parlors, but it quickly turns into trafficking if the victim doesn’t escape before then (which isn’t easy).


Have a History of Abuse or Trauma Due to Unstable Home Lives, Conflict, or Natural Disasters

People fleeing unstable homes and abusive or traumatic situations like conflict or natural disasters are often desperate with no support system. Their despair can make it easy for traffickers to exploit them. For example, initially, traffickers shower their victims with affection to create the illusion of love, eventually demanding they demonstrate their gratitude by doing what the trafficker asks.


Have Little or No Education and Few Job Skills

Additionally, individuals with little or no education and limited job skills are hampered in their attempts to find employment, especially if they have children or other dependents relying on them financially. Traffickers swoop in with false promises of good jobs and a better life.

One common way that traffickers target their victims is through deception. They often pose as legitimate recruiters or employment agencies and promise their victims high-paying jobs, travel opportunities, or educational programs. Once the victim is lured into their trap, the traffickers exploit them for labor or sexual services. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), there are 21 million victims of forced labor around the world.


Children and People With Low Self-Esteem, Lacking Support

Children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking due to their age and lack of life experience. Traffickers may target children who are homeless, runaways, or who are living in poverty. Children who have experienced abuse or neglect are also at a higher risk of being trafficked. According to UNICEF, children make up almost one-third of all human trafficking victims, with girls particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

People with disabilities may also be particularly vulnerable. They cannot often determine if they’re being controlled.

In addition, individuals who have low self-esteem or need love, affection, or protection are easy targets. Traffickers also target individuals who are isolated or who lack social support. For instance, people who are new to a country or do not have family or friends. Traffickers may also target undocumented individuals who don’t speak the local language. These individuals may be less likely to seek help or report their situation to authorities, making them easier targets for traffickers.


Governments and organizations worldwide, like the Orphan’s Hands, are working to combat human trafficking by increasing awareness, providing support to victims, and cracking down on traffickers. However, there is still much work to be done. By understanding how traffickers choose their victims, we can better protect vulnerable individuals and prevent this heinous crime from occurring.


Help Us Provide Hope 

Human trafficking is an overwhelming issue, and a single person can’t stop it, but we can gain traction together. Contributions to organizations like The Orphan’s Hands help our committed staff and volunteers work 365 days a year to fight human trafficking and support survivors. Every donation can change the life of someone victimized by human trafficking. No matter the size, every effort can deliver help and hope to the most vulnerable. 

The generosity of our supporters has helped us provide a safe life for people once trapped in a life of slavery and forced marriage, as well as shelter, food, and medical care for those in need. Together, we can change and save lives!