Understanding the Four Stages of Human Trafficking


When most people hear about human trafficking, they think of someone being forcibly sold against their will, in many cases for sex. While this is an accurate depiction, it does not encompass the full picture.

In many cases, human traffickers are not grabbing strangers and dragging them into white vans. Traffickers tend to be meticulous and conniving when seeking out victims to exploit.

This is why understanding the four stages of human trafficking is so important.

Stage One: Targeting vulnerabilities, fulfilling a need

Before human traffickers fully get their hooks in the person(s) they intend to exploit, they often suss out vulnerabilities to manipulate. This is common with Romeo pimps, who offer love, companionship, and romance to individuals seeking it.

After a trafficker finds a vulnerability within their target(s), they then move to fill the need. This happens to establish trust and also build rapport/bonds. Needs (temporarily) fulfilled by traffickers can be shelter, money, access to food, etc.

Stage Two: Turning up the temperature

The age-old story of the frog that gets boiled to death by water gradually heating up is certainly applicable to human trafficking.