A project of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health

Skip Navigation

Womens Health logo
En Español

Violence Against Women

divider line

Human trafficking


Click the red escape button above to immediately leave this site if your abuser may see you reading it.

Human trafficking is when a person is forced or tricked into working in terrible conditions. Victims of human trafficking may be kidnapped, for example. They also may be lured with false promises of a better life in a new country. A person who is trafficked may be drugged, locked up, beaten, starved, or made to work for many hours a day. Types of work a trafficked person may be forced to do include prostitution, farm work, cleaning, childcare, or sweatshop work.

Ways traffickers control a woman may include:

  • Making her work to pay back money they say she owes them
  • Threatening to hurt her or her family
  • Threatening to have her deported
  • Taking away her passport, birth certificate, or ID card
  • Preventing her from having contact with friends, family, or the outside world

Sometimes, a woman may end up trafficked after being forced to marry someone against her will. In a forced marriage, a woman's husband and his family can have great control over her life. They may then place her in domestic or sexual slavery against her will.

Help for victims of human trafficking

If you think you have come in contact with a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 888-373-7888. Hotline staff can help you figure out if you have seen a victim of human trafficking and can suggest local resources.

Anyone who is brought into the United States for forced labor may be able to get a special visa and other help rebuilding their lives. Learn more about help for trafficked immigrants.

Return to top

More information on Human trafficking

Explore other publications and websites

Connect with other organizations

Content last updated: September 04, 2015.

Return to top