Human Trafficking

Unveiling the Shadows: A Closer Look at Human Trafficking 

The information in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed between NSLAC and the reader. NSLAC is not liable for any action taken or not taken based on this blog. Readers should contact an attorney with any questions regarding the content.

Human trafficking is a pervasive global crisis, that ensnares countless individuals, transcending borders and leaving lives shattered in its wake. Recognizing the signs and raising awareness are critical in combating this modern-day slavery. The information below sheds light on the reality of human trafficking and highlights key indicators to help identify abuse and bring an end to the cycle of exploitation and suffering. NSLAC stands as a beacon of hope for victims and survivors, providing free legal assistance and support to help them break free from the abuse.  

What is human trafficking?  

Under U.S. law, human trafficking refers to the exploitation of individuals through the use of force, deception, or coercion to compel them into labor or commercial sex against their will. It is a form of modern-day slavery that transcends borders and impacts millions of women, men and children globally and within the United States. Human trafficking can manifest in various ways, such as forced labor and sex trafficking.  

  • Forced labor involves the exploitation of individuals through coercion, fraud, or force for labor, services, or financial profit.  
  • Sex trafficking occurs when individuals are coerced, deceived, or forced into engaging in commercial sexual activities.  

While it may seem that human trafficking occurs behind closed doors, victims are often hidden in plain sight.  Traffickers target the most vulnerable, often undocumented immigrants, people of color, those in unstable living situations, or previous victims of abuse. Anyone in any community can be a victim of human trafficking and traffickers often blend into the community. 

Recognizing the Signs 

Human trafficking is a diverse and complex crime, often hidden in plain sight. Learning to recognize the signs is the first step in identifying victims and helping save a life.  

Someone may be experiencing human trafficking or exploitation if they: 

  • Do not have access to important documents such as passports, birth certificates, or work authorization cards. 
  • Have no control over their wages or feel compelled to give their wages directly to a third party. 
  • Experience constant monitoring or restrictions on their movements and phone calls. 
  • Were recruited for work under false promises. 
  • Live in dangerous, overcrowded, and inhumane conditions. 
  • Appear disconnected from their family, friends, or community. 
  • Often exhibit signs of fear, paranoia, tension, disorientation, or confusion. 
  • Live and work in isolated conditions. 
  • Show signs of being denied food, water, sleep, or medical care. 
  • Exhibit physical injuries in various stages of healing. 
  • Cannot freely leave where they live or work. 
  • Are coached in what to say when questioned or are often accompanied by someone to whom they defer.

 If you believe you may have information about a trafficking situation, report a tip HERE 

The Impact of Human Trafficking on Victims and Survivors 

The consequences of human trafficking can be deep and prolonged, affecting victims emotionally, physically, and psychologically, often all at once. Survivors often experience depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, and substance abuse. It is also not uncommon for survivors to develop feelings of guilt, shame, or denial, making them reluctant to seek help. 

Recognizing and addressing the trauma of human trafficking is a critical step in a survivor’s path to recovery and well-being. While navigating the trauma of human trafficking can take time, with professional and compassionate trauma-informed support, survivors can begin the journey toward healing and rebuilding their lives beyond the shadows of exploitation and abuse. 

Breaking the Silence and Seeking Help 

Human trafficking has no place in our community, and NSLAC is dedicated to fighting against it. If you or someone you know is showing signs of being a victim of human trafficking, please call 911 or contact the North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic (NSLAC). NSLAC offers confidential and free legal help to victims, collaborating closely with law enforcement and other organizations to ensure victims get the professional support and guidance they need. 

If you are in need of free legal services, please contact NSLAC at 847-737-4042 or email If this is an emergency, please call 911 immediately.  

How You Can Help

Human trafficking can occur in any community, and raising public awareness is crucial in our fight against this crime. By learning to recognize the key indicators, raising awareness, and reporting suspected cases of human trafficking, individuals, educators, businesses, and first responders all contribute to dismantling the networks of exploitation.

Here are some effective ways to contribute to raising awareness: 

  • Print or digitally share and distribute NSLAC's human trafficking flyer 
  • Share this blog on social media platforms and other digital channels. 
  • Learn more about human trafficking and recognizing the signs HERE 
  • If you suspect human trafficking activity, report a tip HERE 

 Through education and awareness, we can work together to shine a light on human trafficking and protect the most vulnerable individuals in our communities. 

Know the Signs, Be the Change

We all have the potential to identify a human trafficking case and make a life-saving difference. By learning to recognize the signs, raising awareness, and reporting human trafficking, together we play a critical role in combating this global crisis. No one should live in fear for their life. 

We encourage you to be vigilant and share the information found in this blog to help raise awareness with those around you. Through our collective commitment, we can build a future where every individual can live free from fear and exploitation.  

Additional Resources 

Interested in learning more? The resources below provide more information on human trafficking, reporting a tip, identifying abuse, and educational resources.  


National Human Trafficking Hotline: To report a potential human trafficking situation, call the hotline at 1-888-373-7888, or submit a tip online here. Learn more about recognizing the signs here 

Domestic Violence: National Domestic Violence Hotline, 24 hour Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) 

Dating Violence: National Dating Abuse Helpline, 24 hour Hotline: 1-866-331-9474 

Educational Resources:  

Polaris: Learn more about types of human trafficking HERE 

Blue Campaign: Learn more about human trafficking and find downloadable teaching tools HERE 



Homeland Security. (n.d.). How You Can Help | 

Human Trafficking Capacity Building Center. (n.d.). THE VICTIM’S SAFETY AND WELL-BEING TAKE PRIORITY IN ALL MATTERS. 

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (2021, January 10) Identify and Assist a Trafficking Victim - United States Department of State 

Polaris. (2019, October 16). How Human Trafficking Happens | Polaris.; Polaris. 

Polaris. (2019, October 16) The Typology of Modern Slavery | Polaris. 

 U.S. Department of State. (2023). About Human Trafficking. United States Department of State. 

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2018, October 17). Indicators of Human Trafficking. Department of Homeland Security. 

U.S Department of State. (n.d.). Public Awareness & Training. United States Department of State. 

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