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 www.cybertipline.com.
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
- 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
- Wisconsin Department of Justice’s human trafficking page
- Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault
- Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Specific to Wisconsin immigrants
- United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS) provides a variety of social services and advocates for Wisconsin migrants.
- National Immigrant Justice Center provides legal services and advocates for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.
- UNIDOS Against Domestic Violence works to end family violence in Wisconsin’s immigrant communities.
- International Institute of Wisconsin provides legal, educational, and social services, interpretation, refugee resettlement, and more.
- Centro Hispano of Dane County has a variety of social, legal, and educational resources for Hispanic immigrant communities.
In the Madison area
- RESPECT Project on Prostitution provides counseling and social services for women in the sex trade; also HIV intervention.
- Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin has runaway and homeless youth programs, including employment, shelter and legal help.
- Slave Free Madison raises awareness about local and global human trafficking and advocates action to eliminate it.
- Love 146’s UW-Madison chapter raises awareness about sex trafficking.
- The Zonta Club of Madison works to advance the status of women locally and globally.
- Freedom Inc. provides a variety of social services, primarily to Hmong women and children.
In the Milwaukee area
- Trafficking Ends with Action works with other organizations to research, raise awareness and help trafficking victims.
- Milwaukee Bad Date Sheet has a place where sex workers can report abusive customers and other resource links.
- Sojourner Truth House is a day shelter for women and children; provides resource connections, health screenings and other services.
- Rethink Resources: Youth in the Sex Trade offers counseling and resource connection for youth in the sex trade.
- The Lemonade Stand is a group home serving adolescent girls ages 12-17; provides therapy, tutoring and more.
- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee provides a wide variety of social services and helps people get resources to become self-sufficient.
- Franciscan Peacemakers does street outreach focusing on individuals engaged in survival sex or forced into the trade.
- Brothers and Sisters in Christ Serving (BASICS) provides a directory of resources and referral services and organizes volunteers.
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
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Rescue and Restore has national human trafficking resources and information.
- U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons has information and ways to get involved.
- USAID: Trafficking in Persons has information about trafficking and the U.S. government’s response.
- Polaris Project advocates and raises awareness about human trafficking and offers resources for victims and volunteers.
Reports and statistics
The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (www.WisconsinWatch.org) 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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