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Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services


Human Trafficking Awareness


The Department of Health & Human Services defines Human Trafficking as a form of modern-day slavery that occurs both within the United States and around the world.

Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of commercial sex, debt bondage, or forced labor. They are young children, teenagers, men and women. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as follows:

  • Sex Trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which a person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; and
  • Labor Trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Source: The Department of Health & Human Services

Pennsylvania’s Comprehensive Anti-Human Trafficking Law, Act 105, prosecutes human traffickers, prevents human trafficking, and protects survivors of human trafficking.

  • Sex Trafficking: defined under Act 105 as a commercial sex act induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or where the victim is a minor.
  • Labor Trafficking: defined under Act 105 as labor obtained by use or threat of serious harm, physical restraint, or abuse of legal process.

Source: 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. 3001 – 3072

Source: dod.defense.gov/News/Special-Reports




Traffickers use violence, threats, blackmail, false promises, deception, manipulation, and debt bondage to trap vulnerable individuals in horrific situations.

List of Common Trafficking Indicators

  • Has the victim been threatened with deportation or law enforcement action?
  • Is the victim allowed to socialize or attend religious services?
  • Was the victim recruited for one purpose and forced to engage in some other job
  • Is the victim in possession of identification and travel documents; if not, who has control of the documents?
  • Is the victim a juvenile engaged in commercial sex?
  • Do they seem submissive or fearful?
  • Are they free to come and go as they please?
  • Are they allowed to speak for themselves?
  • Was the victim coached on what to say to law enforcement and immigration officials?
  • Has the victim or family been threatened with harm if the victim attempts to escape?
  • Was the victim forced to perform sexual acts?
  • Has the victim been harmed or deprived of food, water, sleep, medical care or other life necessities?

Source: www.ice.gov




Human Trafficking Hotline

If you suspect someone is being held against their will or is being used for illegal purposes:

Learn more at acf.hhs.gov/trafficking

Housing Resources

  • Covenant House — covenanthouse.org— Provides housing and supportive services to homeless and trafficked youth. Homeless youth are easy targets for this horrific industry.
  • Dawn’s Place —  ahomefordawn.org— Supports women affected by commercial sexual exploitation by providing services to women. Raising awareness through education, generating prevention, public policy reform, and community collaborations.

Treatment Resources

  • The Joseph J. Peters Institute (JJPI): Serves adults who are victims of sex and or labor trafficking. Provides individual and group therapy for victims of sexual trauma.
  • Women Against Abuse (WAA): Services adult victims of all forms of relational violence. Provides the following services: legal, shelter housing, transitional, training, and therapy.
  • Philadelphia Children’s Alliance: This center screens children for any form of abuse, neglect, and sexual commercial exploitation. This CAC is accredited by the National Children’s Alliance.

Legal Resources

  • Project Dawn Court Diversionary Court Program —  Lesha.Sanders@courts.phila.gov —  Project Dawn Court is Philadelphia’s newest problem-solving court, designed for women with repeat prostitution offenses. The first of its kind in the country, its modeled on the nationally lauded Philadelphia Treatment Court, established in 1997 to reduce both drug possession recidivism rates and the cost of jailing drug addicts by providing rehabilitative services under close court supervision
  • Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation —  cseinstitute.org —  Serves all victims of sex trafficking. Provides the following services: Education, training, policy advocacy and legal services for survivors.

Social Service Resources

  • Nationalities Service Center —  nscphila.org —  Provides a wide range of services to meet the needs of newly arriving refugees, victims of human trafficking and unaccompanied children.
  • Salvation Army —  pa.salvationarmy.org/greater-philadelphia/NewDay —  The Salvation Army New Day Drop-in center address human trafficking in Philadelphia. The center is a safe, trauma informed, welcoming and non-judgmental space for women suffering, from sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia.


Blue Campaign is “the unified voice for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) efforts to combat human trafficking,” and works with a variety of organizations dedicated to fight against human trafficking including law enforcement, government and non-governmental agencies. DHS is responsible for investigating human trafficking, arresting traffickers, and protecting victims. DHS also provides immigration relief (blue-campaign/immigration-assistance) to non-U.S. citizen victims of human trafficking. DHS utilizes a victim centered approach (blue-campaign/victim-centered-approach) to combat human trafficking, which places equal value on identifying and stabilizing victims and on investigating and prosecuting traffickers. dhs.gov/blue-campaign