Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a crime in which traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to force victims to engage in commercial sex or forced labor.

Traffickers essentially exploit victims’ freedom for profit. Victims of human trafficking can be women, men, transgender persons and gender non-conforming individuals, adults and children; American citizens and foreign nationals.

While anyone can be a victim of human trafficking, traffickers frequently target vulnerable populations including people experiencing homelessness, undocumented foreign nationals, LGBTQ+ persons, unaccompanied youth, and persons victimized by adverse childhood experiences. Vulnerability to human trafficking also sits at the intersection of varying forms of other oppression including systems of racism and economic marginalization.

Sex trafficking is when a person aged 18 or older is forced to engage in commercial sex against their will through the use of force, fraud or coercion. For people under the age of 18, any engagement in commercial sex, regardless of consent or the presence of a trafficker, is automatically considered a victim of sex trafficking under federal law. Sex trafficking is a form of gender-based violence and can overlap with intimate partner violence, sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence.

What is force, fraud, or coercion?

Force, fraud and coercion is the means that a trafficker will use to exploit someone for the purpose of commercial sex acts and/or labor services.

  • Force can include physical abuse, sexual violence, substance abuse or starvation.
  • Fraud can include false employment promises, false offers of romance, lying about working conditions.
  • Coercion can include threats or blackmailing the potential victim, confiscating identification or documents, abusing legal system.

    If you would like to speak to someone, call our 24-Hour Helpline at (410) 997-2272.

    24-Hour Sexual, Dating and Domestic Violence Helpline: (410) 997-2272



    9770 Patuxent Woods Dr., Suite 300

    Columbia, MD, 21046

    (410) 997-0304