Element 2: The Means of Human Trafficking, or How it is Done

My Story: He was like 'Your brother works at this and this place... well, if you don't want us to go and collect the money from him too... if you know what I mean... then you just gonna help us make the money back quicker'. It was not like 'I want to kill you'. He just named my brother and the place he works at

- Timea

Traffickers use a variety of tactics to get a trafficked person to do what they want and to maintain control, including the use of:

  • Violence or Threats of Violence Against the Person or Her Friends and Family
    A trafficker will often use violence or the threat of violence as a control tactic. The trafficked person may be made to fear that they or their loved ones will be sexually assaulted, beaten, or killed, or may be forced to witness the beatings or sexual assaults of others to make sure they comply with the trafficker's demands.

In the following video, Professor Benjamin Perrin explains how traffickers use threats of violence as a form of constant psychological manipulation.

Methods of Control

(Video runtime 00:36)

(Transcript for the Methods of Control video.)

  • Coercion
    A trafficker may coerce another person through fear, such as the fear of being returned to a war-torn home, being separated from loved ones, or losing immigration status.
  • Abduction
    Abduction is the act of leading someone away by force or lies.

In the following video re-enactment from the RCMP’s video “I’m Not For Sale,” a young woman is groomed — and then coerced — to strip in a nightclub and later to provide sexual acts for money by the man she thinks is her boyfriend and loves her.


I'm not for sale

(Video runtime 03:34)

(Transcript for the I'm not for sale video.)


Grooming is a recruitment tactic. Traffickers may offer trafficked persons attention, gifts, money and drugs. They may then suggest that there is more available if the person agrees to come work for them.

Many of those who have been trafficked will say later that they were "in love" with their traffickers, at least until the exploitation started, and then it was too late.

  • Fraud
    Fraud is a knowing misrepresentation of the truth that induces another person to act to his or her detriment.

    In the context of human trafficking, fraud may involve a transaction where a trafficker dupes a person into paying for forged or false travel documents or work visa, or for a false employment contract, in the belief these documents are legitimate in the destination country. The trafficker may also charge an illegal fee for a job that doesn’t exist.

    The trafficked person may have borrowed money from her trafficker to pay for the fraudulent documents or employment contract. The trafficked person is then in a situation of debt bondage to her trafficker, who may then also require her to pay the money back at a high interest rate or with additional fees and penalties as time goes on.
  • Deception
    A trafficker may deceive a person into being trafficked by telling her that a well-paid job and good working conditions—or for a young person, a modelling contract or a singing career—await her in another place, when in fact she may be exploited for sex or labour.

    Youth and children, especially, are more easily deceived because they are less aware of the risks of trafficking. Parents, too, though, can be deceived into letting their children go with traffickers if they believe their children are being offered a better life.
  • Abuse of Power
    A trafficker who is in a position of control or authority over another—such as a spouse, a parent, or a teacher—may abuse his or her power to exploit that other person.

My Story: Right from the beginning they used threats to keep us under control. They said if we ever reported them, they would take us to the forest and put us in a grave. They also said that if we escaped, they would inform the immigration prison, so that we would be put in jail, and then deported. They would make sure that we would 'pay' when we were returned to Europe. They also told me I belonged in a coffin...

- Carl


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