What is human trafficking?

Human Trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, harbouring or controlling of persons for the purpose of forced labour, including work in the sex trade. It is defined by force, fraud, coercion that is facilitated by a third party for the purposes of profiting from you.

  • can include psychological manipulation, emotional abuse, lies, threats, violence and isolation
  • holding and controlling someone’s money and/or ID
  • forcing, coercing, pressuring someone to have sex for money
  • sometimes human trafficking is confused with smuggling or kidnapping, but no movement is necessary for human trafficking to occur. You can be from Durham and be trafficked in Durham
  • survivors often need specialized, intensive services due to the severe trauma trafficking can cause

5 Things to know about
Human Trafficking

What is domestic sex trafficking?

Domestic Human Trafficking is forced or coerced sexual labor facilitated by a third party also known as a pimp. Girls are targeted and trafficked in Canada, for the profit of pimps.

How does this happen?

Girls are coerced typically by someone they perceive as an intimate partner or friend. The pimp intentionally moves the girl through the stages of exploitation, for the purpose of trafficking her.

Who is at risk?

Approximately 72% of female trafficking victims are under 25—and can be as young as 12 years old. 93% of reported survivors identify as female.* *Ibrahim, Dyna. (2018, June, 27). Trafficking in persons in Canada.

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Is this a common problem in Ontario?

Human trafficking is the fastest growing crime in Canada. 66% of all human trafficking in Canada occurs in Ontario.*

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Why don't people just leave?

Pimps work hard to isolate and shame the girls they are trafficking so they don’t feel like there is anyone they can turn to. Pimps also exercise power and control over girls to make them feel afraid for their safety if they try to leave. Girls can also develop a ‘trauma bond’ with their trafficker, where they feel connected to him, despite the abuse. does it happen?

There is a Cycle of Commercial Sexual Exploitation that is used.

1. Luring

  • Assessing the right person
  • Testing their vulnerabilities and boundaries
  • Determining whether that person is looking for what they are selling
  • Testing the waters to see if that person is open to engaging in courting
  • Collecting as much information as possible about them
  • Making them feel special

2. Grooming & Gaming

  • Also called the honeymoon stage
  • She feels like she is in love, dreams coming true
  • Promises of family, home, or other dreams and hopes mentioned in the luring stage
  • Treated to new clothes, hair & nails done, etc.
  • May introduce drugs or substances under guise of loosening up or having fun, but not always
  • Only red flag is that it feels too good to be true

3. Coercion & Manipulation

  • Trafficker begins sending mixed messages
  • Increased anger, decreased communication
  • Withdrawing from the relationship, toying with their emotions
  • Causes victim/survivor to try to get back into their good books and please them in any way
  • Begins pushing boundaries sexually to desensitize the person to these actions
  • Sexual acts and compliance are rewarded with drugs/money (conditioning)

4. Exploitation

  • Trafficker has broken down their self-esteem
  • Threatens their safety and safety of loved ones
  • Makes them feel financially indebted to the trafficker or obligated to contribute in some way
  • Leads victim to believe that they need help of trafficker financially
  • Forced to work
  • Emotional, mental and physical abuse — intimidation and control
  • Confinement and isolation

5. Recruitment

  • Trafficker says you’re graduated to their top girl
  • Needs your help “teaching other girls”
  • Makes you feel powerful and important
  • You get to see less “clients”, reclaiming some power and control
  • Told old to befriend vulnerable girls
  • Show them how great the life is and they could have it too
Signs to look for »   Myths »

Helpful Resources

5 Things to know about human trafficking
5 Things to know about Human Trafficking in Durham Region

This informative 12-page booklet will give you good insight as to how Human Trafficking occurs in Durham Region along with 5 ways to ignite change to combat Human Trafficking.

Download resource
Victim Services of Durham Region
Human Trafficking: Parents & Prevention

Victim Services of Durham Region know that caregivers’ attention, love, and awareness is the biggest defence against Human Trafficking. This simple 2-page flyer is full of tips, signs to look for and detailed information on how to intervene when speaking to children about sensitive topics.

Download resource

There is hope!

If you are a victim of Human Trafficking or know of someone who might be:

Click here to learn what you can do »

© 2021 Durham Region Human Trafficking Coalition.