If immediate response is needed, call 911. If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888 to speak with a specially trained Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocate.

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to control a person for commercial sex or labor services. Traffickers use violence, threats, blackmail, false promises, deception, and debt bondage to trap vulnerable persons for profit.

Why does human trafficking exist?

Two primary causes drive the spread of human trafficking – high profits and low risks. Like illegal drugs and arms, human trafficking is a market-driven criminal enterprise based on the principles of supply and demand.

Every year, human traffickers generate billions of dollars by victimizing people around the world.

Myth vs. fact

MYTH: Human trafficking only happens to certain people, in certain places.

FACT: Human trafficking can happen to anyone, anywhere.

MYTH: Smuggling and human trafficking are the same.

FACT: There is a difference between the two. The crime, purpose, profits and boundaries differ. 

MYTH: Prostitution and human trafficking are the same.

FACT: Prostitution is consensual engagements in sex acts; However, human trafficking is engagement in commercial sex acts induced by force, fraud, and/or coercion, or when the person is under age 18 engaged in commercial sex acts. 

Who are the victims of human trafficking?

As defined under U.S. law, victims of human trafficking divide into three major population groups:


Children under age 18 induced into commercial sex.


Adults age 18 or over induced into commercial sex.


Children and adults induced to perform labor or services.


Who are the traffickers?

Traffickers lure people into forced labor and sex by manipulating and exploiting their vulnerabilities. Human traffickers prey on people who are hoping for a better life, lack employment, have an unstable home life, or have a history of sexual or physical abuse.

Runaway and unhoused youth are at an added risk. Traffickers promise a high paying job, a loving relationship, or new opportunities. In other cases, they kidnap victims or use physical and psychological violence to control them. Traffickers can work alone or be part of criminal networks – with the common thread of exploiting people for profit.

Myth vs. fact

MYTH: Kidnapping is how most victims are introduced into human trafficking.

FACT: Victims are often lured into situations of human trafficking under false pretenses.  

MYTH: Human trafficking requires a violation of an international border.

FACT: Human trafficking can happen within and across borders. It can also happen with little or no movement.  

The facts.


The average age of a sex trafficking victim is 13.

Girls and boys from all socioeconomic backgrounds often suffer beatings, rapes and isolation.

Traffickers often use the internet to target their victims.

The convergence of interstate highways and our central location makes St. Louis a top-twenty hub for human trafficking.

How can you help?

Education is the best investment we can make in the future of our society. The better educated you are regarding human trafficking, the more inspired, productive and innovative you may be to advocate for systemic change to end human trafficking.

Our courses and training programs are geared toward individuals, community groups, educators and professional organizations. We help you identify and report human trafficking and work to minimize victimization through increased community awareness of social inequities and discriminations that leave people vulnerable to human trafficking.

Take action now!

Questions? Contact us.

9 + 15 =