Human Trafficking

What is human trafficking? It strips away a human being's ability to make choices in their own lives. It is a form of modern slavery that benefits those in power and yields billions of dollars for them. Human trafficking is a criminal industry that denies freedom to 20.9 million people around the world (Polaris, 2018). Human trafficking is often thought of as sex trafficking or labor trafficking. What is the difference?

Sex trafficking occurs in the world, United States, New Jersey, and Hunterdon County. Sex traffickers use various techniques to exert their power/control to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. Under U.S. federal law, any minor under the age of 18 years induced into commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking—regardless of whether or not the trafficker used force, fraud, or coercion (Polaris, 2018).  Vulnerable populations are frequently targeted by traffickers, including runaway and homeless youth, as well as victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, war, or social discrimination (Polaris, 2018). In 2016, an estimated 1 out of 6 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims, and of those, 86% were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran. What contributes to the prevalence of sex trafficking is access to venues such as fake massage businesses, online ads or escort services, residential brothels, on the street or at truck stops, or at hotels and motels

Labor trafficking also occurs in the world, United States, New Jersey, and Hunterdon County. Labor traffickers (such as contractors, employers, etc.) use techniques that communicate power/control to force people to work against their will in many different industries. Labor trafficking occurs in numerous industries in the U.S. and globally. In the United States, common types of labor trafficking include people forced to work in homes as domestic servants, farm workers coerced through violence as they harvest crops, or factory workers held in inhumane conditions. Labor trafficking has also been reported in door-to-door sales crews, restaurants, construction work, carnivals, and even health and beauty services (Polaris, 2018). Vulnerable populations are frequently targeted by traffickers. Immigration status, recruitment debt, isolation, poverty, and a lack of strong labor protections are just some of the vulnerabilities that can lead to labor trafficking (Polaris, 2018). The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally; 81% of them are trapped in forced labor, 25% of them are children, and 75% are women and girls.

To learn more about how to recognize the signs of Human trafficking, visit Polaris Project.

If you wish to report a potential human trafficking situation, please contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at:

1 (888) 373-7888

SMS: 233733 (Text "HELP" or "INFO")

Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week

Languages: English, Spanish and 200 more languages



In 2014, SAFE in Hunterdon partnered with New Jersey’s two human trafficking agencies, Polaris and Dream Catcher, to collaboratively provide integrated services to victims and survivors of human trafficking. SAFE in Hunterdon provides services to victims of human trafficking starting at the age of three through the lifespan. Victims and survivors of human trafficking can access residential programs, 24/7 hotline, child/adolescent counseling services, adult counseling services, and legal advocacy services. SAFE in Hunterdon participates in the Statewide software system entitled Shelter Safe Collaborative, which allows for faster shelter placement when a human trafficking victim is in imminent danger. SAFE in Hunterdon refers human trafficking victims to Dream Catcher, New Jersey’s first mobile human trafficking agency, to provide additional intensive case management services to residential/non-residential clients. For more information on Dream Catcher  view their brochures here.

Serving survivors of domestic and sexual violence for 40 years.

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