What Human Trafficking Is

When thinking of human trafficking, no doubt your first thought is the picture that Hollywood has painted for us of dirty foreign women wearing threadbare rags in a dark cellar or sleeping in cages, only allowed out for a night with cruel, violent men which only her captors see the money from. You might picture a woman being grabbed off the street and pulled into the back of a windowless van, only to find herself on a stage being auctioned off to the highest bidder. The images of human trafficking and slavery we’re given seem like something so far away that it might not even be true. And, if it is real, it’s probably not that common. How many Big Bads can there really be kidnapping people and selling them like property? Something that heinous, something that obvious, couldn’t possibly be overlooked so easily by law enforcement, right? After all, the CSI and FBI always get their man in the end...


But the reality of human trafficking in the world today doesn’t have to be so physically violent and extreme to be terrifying. Someone being beaten and locked away, forced by threats on their life into slavery is definitely a horrifying thought and no doubt it does happen, but it’s not always the case. It’s not even mostly the case. Coercion, trickery, and fraudulence - it’s not as blatantly obvious to the outside observer, but it can be equally as terrifying as physical force. Most human traffickers use manipulation to control their victims.


There are many misconceptions about human trafficking that ultimately do damage to the way we see and identify victims. The Polaris Project, one of the leaders in the fight against trafficking and slavery, lists those misconceptions and corrects them with facts.


  1. All human trafficking is not sex trafficking. There is much more awareness in the US about sex trafficking, but experts believe worldwide that labor trafficking takes the majority.

  2. Human trafficking is not solely an underground operation. Reports of labor trafficking have been made in restaurants, cleaning services, construction, and other industries you wouldn’t suspect.

  3. Women and young girls are not the only potential victims. Advocates estimate that approximately 50%, maybe more, of victims are males. LGBTQ+ boys and men are even more vulnerable to trafficking. Unfortunately, male victims are much harder to identify.

  4. Not all sex workers are victims of human trafficking. In the case of children and teenagers under the legal age, all commercial sex is legally considered human trafficking, but it is only considered such for adults if the person providing the service is being forced or coerced against their will.

  5. Labor trafficking is not only a problem in developing countries. In the United States and other developed countries, labor trafficking exists, but it is reported at a much lower rate than sex trafficking.


To view the full list of myths and facts, and learn more about human trafficking and how you can help the cause, visit http:/.polarisproject.org

Statistics About Human Trafficking

The Kentucky Cabinet of Health and Family Services outlined in their report for the 2013 - 2018 period a total of 786 reports of the trafficking of minors, children, involving 949 alleged victims.


While the Cabinet covers reports across all media, the National Human Trafficking Hotline (Operated by the Polaris Project) can only account for reports they receive via email, online tips, and phone calls. According to their statistics by state, since 2013 approximately 34% of human trafficking reports involved minors in Kentucky.


To see more hotline statistics for Kentucky, visit https://humantraffickinghotline.org/state/kentucky.

What Stop Traffic Does

Stop Traffic Kentucky, Inc. is a nonprofit organization based in Kentucky dedicated to the cause of ending human trafficking. Our purpose is to educate and train the public about human trafficking and to raise money to support trafficking victims and survivors, as well as those providing services in the anti-trafficking movement through charity events.

We're best known for our annual fundraising party, the Stop Traffic Gala, held on Derby Eve, but as our organization grows, we plan to expand our reach throughout the year, including:

  • Fundraising Dining Nights with participating restaurant locations

  • Free training on recognizing the signs of human trafficking

Bakhita Empowerment Initiative

A program with the Catholic Charities of Louisville, the Bakhita Empowerment Initiative works to provide assistance to victims of human trafficking and educating the community on the subject, including how to recognize potential victims who are being forced or manipulated into providing labor or sex work.

Bakhita’s staff encourages self-liberation, which allows victims the first step of restoring power in their own lives, and they offer a number of services that help survivors become self-sufficient, from transitional shelter and necessary essentials to educational tools and job development, and even tattoo and branding removal. Case managers support their clients by accompanying them to court dates and other appointments regarding their traffickers, assisting them with applications for benefits, and offering personal support and assistance with whatever they may need to emancipate themselves.

To learn more about the Bakhita Empowerment Initiative, visit https://cclou.org/bakhita-empowerment-initiative



The Bakhita Empowerment Initiative

The Polaris Project

The National Human Trafficking Hotline

Official 2018 Minor Trafficking Report From Kentucky Cabinet of Health and Family Services