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Get help or call in a tip

If you suspect you are a victim of human trafficking or have come across a case, don’t hesitate to contact help:
National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline: 1-888-373-7888

This number is toll-free, confidential and available 24 hours a day. Call to report a tip, to be connected with anti-human trafficking services in your area, or to request training or information. In an emergency, dial 911.

Missing and Exploited Children CyberTipline: 1-800-843-5678
Call 24 hours a day to report cases of sexual exploitation of children including child pornography, enticement of children online, child prostitution or sex tourism, or extrafamilial child molestation. Tips can be given online at

In Milwaukee, you can also contact law enforcement directly in an emergency:
Milwaukee Police Department Sensitive Crimes Department: 414-935-7405

Signs of human trafficking

Physical and psychological signs

  • Unexplained physical injury, signs of malnutrition, physical or sexual abuse
  • Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense; avoids eye contact
  • Unusually fearful or anxious when discussing law enforcement
  • Has no sense of time


  • Works excessive or unusual hours
  • Is unpaid, paid very little or paid only through tips
  • Is not allowed breaks or suffers from other unusual restrictions at work
  • Was recruited through false promises regarding the nature or conditions of the work
  • Is fearful of discussing working conditions
  • Is a minor providing commercial sex acts
  • Works as a prostitute


  • Movement and activities appear to be closely monitored or controlled
  • Has little or no idea where he or she is geographically
  • Transported individually or in groups to the work site, especially under covert or tightly controlled conditions
  • Apparently never leaves home unless escorted; does not seem free to come or go as desired

Living conditions

  • Has substandard living conditions
  • Lives with multiple people in a cramped space
  • Lives with employer
  • High security measures exist in the work or living locations


  • Is not allowed to speak for self; a third party insists on being present or translating
  • Is fearful of discussing the person who is controlling him or her
  • Claims to be visiting but cannot clarify where he or she is staying, doesn’t know address
  • Answers questions in responses that seem scripted, rehearsed or inconsistent

Control of possessions and finances

  • Seems to have few or no personal possessions, including identification
  • Declares someone else is holding his or her identifying documents
  • Has no control over money, no financial records or bank account
  • Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off

Sources: U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime; Polaris Project; U.S. Department of State.

What to ask a potential victim

If you notice warning signs, follow up. But be sure you can speak without jeopardizing the person’s safety. Source: U.S. Department of State.

  • 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 or identification? Who has it?

Learn more or take action

A variety of organizations work with human trafficking issues in Wisconsin, the United States, and internationally. Many of these organizations provide more information on the crime, resources for victims, and opportunities to get involved. Click to expand or hide the links in each category.

General resources in Wisconsin

Specific to Wisconsin immigrants

In the Madison area

In the Milwaukee area

In the Fox Valley area

  • Five Stones raises awareness about sex trafficking and provides opportunities for volunteer involvement.
  • FREE International attacks human trafficking by building partnerships and providing training and victim services.

National and beyond

Reports and statistics

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism ( collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

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