BLUF: Learning to recognize body language, uncommon social cues, and signs of distress can help to detect victims of human trafficking and aid in avoiding victimization among yourself, family, and 3rd parties.
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Human traffickers are manipulative. They often use complex ruses to induce potential victims before turning to threats and violence to hold them captive and force them to perform unwanted work and sex acts. By understanding how they target, recruit, and harbor their victims, you can protect yourself and others from sex and human trafficking. If you come across a potential victim that suggests their ID or money is being held by a friend, that’s a strong sign they are a captive.
As a Grayman we want to focus further than just being aware of obvious threats. We want to be situational aware of our surroundings and interpret what we see in-order-to take proactive courses of actions to avoid threats. This includes understanding specific procedural indicators of specific crimes and tactics against the innocent such as human trafficking, kidnapping, and sexual abuse. Some of these indicators are not indicative of typical threats. It’s up to the Grayman to master the foundation of situational awareness so that we can spot and stop victimization.
The theoretical framework of SA has three levels; Perception, Comprehension, and Projection. The framework basically involves processes that can create outcomes. An assessment creates awareness. Awareness requires sensemaking to develop understanding which then leads to prediction. Let’s climb the stairs;
➔ Perception: This is when you perceive the status, attributes, and dynamics of relevant elements within the vicinity’s environment. It involves the processes of monitoring, cue detection, and simple recognition, which lead to an awareness of multiple situational elements (objects, events, people, systems, environmental factors) and their current states (locations, conditions, modes, actions).
➔ Comprehension: The synthesis of disjointed perceived elements through the processes of pattern recognition, interpretation, and evaluation. It requires integrating this information to understand how it will impact goals and objectives. This includes developing a comprehensive picture of your immediate, intermediate, and geographical vicinity.
➔ Projection: The ability to project future actions of the environmental elements. It is achieved through knowledge of status and dynamics of these elements and the comprehension of the situation. Extrapolation of this information in regards to future events helps to determine how it will affect the pending operational environment. Don’t ignore intuition, it will serve you well. You (as have we all) have certainly experienced that “hair on the back of your neck” feeling. Trust what nature has given you. Don’t wait until things get bad to discover if you were right or wrong. If it doesn’t seem right then it probably isn’t. Avoid normalcy bias. Don’t downplay or minimize something until you have run it through the framework of SA and the OODA Loop, which we’ll discuss shortly. We become accustomed to certain things and assume the best in people. Dig deeper. Look for things out of place such as those subtle clues that tell us “something isn’t right”.
Apply this framework to human trafficking. Do you perceive the female being walked up a flight of stairs by a male as a victim? Do you comprehend what the distressed look on her face is about, do analyze the suspiciousness of the male holding her hand while she slowly is tugged occasionally up the stairs, do you take note that the next level is roof access? Can you project what dangers may being awaiting her? Could an intervention be necessary; either my asking her if she’s ok (or be smart, ask her to help you look for you missing cat, this may give her a chance to break away without retribution from her captor?
TIPS TO AVOID BEING A VICTIM
Be Vigilant Of Your Surroundings. Always be vigilant and aware of your surroundings and if you detect someone is following you, move to a public areas, call someone on the phone, or signal for help.
Avoid Walking Alone. Women have been forcibly kidnapped while walking on the street even in daylight. Walk in groups on wood trails.
Act Swiftly If Suspicious. Don’t wait to determine if you “gut feeling” is correct.
Don’t Trust Easily. Young girls or elderly women are used as a ploy to gain trust. They may ask for you to help them with a disable car “just around the corner”. Don’t follow them if it takes you out of a public area or if it takes you to an area with a screen (large van or visual obscurity)
Use Social Media Wisely. Don’t post public images of your children, Don’t share locations.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING INDICATORS
While not an exhaustive list, these are key red flags that could alert you to a potential trafficking situation that should be reported:
- An inability to speak to anyone else alone or isn’t allowed to speak on their own behalf
- Has tattoos or other markings (e.g., bar codes) that show “ownership” by someone else
- Scripted or seemingly rehearsed answers to questions
- Has a much older sexual or “romantic” partner
- Employer is holding identity documents
- Being submissive or fearful in public
- Multiple people in cramped space
- Under 18 and in prostitution
- Unpaid or paid very little
- Signs of physical abuse
- Poor living conditions
- Living with employer
SAFETY TIPS FOR CHILDREN
Sit down with your kids and review each tip.
- Tell your parents or a trusted adult if someone is asking you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable. Listen to your “uh oh” voice.
- Learn the difference between an “OK” secret and a “NOT OK” secret and beware of an adult who asks you to keep a secret from your parents.
- If you are ever “scooped,” scream, kick, bite and FIGHT as hard as you can to get away! NEVER trust what the “scooper” tells you.
- If you ever get lost in a mall, ask the closest store clerk for help and then stay where you are until you are found.
- Never fear someone else threatening you to keep a secret and not tell your parents
- Don’t let anyone on the phone or at the door know that you are home alone.
- Always ask your parents for permission before getting on the internet.
- Avoid shortcuts when you are walking from one place to another.
- Never talk to people online without your parents’ permission.
- It’s okay to be RUDE to a grownup if you feel you are unsafe.
- Know your name, address, and phone number(s).
- If you are scared of someone, RUN to safety.
- Learn how and when to call 911.
If you believe someone may be a victim of human trafficking, call the 24-hour National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or report an emergency to law enforcement by calling 911.
This article was originally written by the Grayman Briefing. Stay in the know, sign up for Intel and Situational Awareness alerts pushed to your phone on emerging threats and preparedness warnings. Click HERE to subscribe to the Grayman Briefing.