1. The person wants to move too fast. This could mean sex if they are posing as a boyfriend. But it also could mean they want you to make decisions faster than you’re ready to make them. For example, traffickers will tell girls from other countries that they need to agree to the “job” immediately or they’ll give it to someone else. Or they tell the girl she needs to be ready to travel in a week.
2. They want to move you from your home, which is your comfort zone and the place where people know you. Girls within America are often moved to a different state where they’re harder to track down. Girls from other countries might meet a “boyfriend” online who says very quickly that he will pay for her to come to America. It’s better to ask the guy to come to visit you. It’s safer and you can get help.
3. The other person is older and richer than you are. They buy you an excessive amount of gifts and you feel that you owe them something. They might even imply that you owe them something.
4. You start feeling like you need the person, can’t live without them.
5. You have to hide things about the person from people you know, your friends and your family. They might even make you choose, them or your family.
6. They ask you to do things that you think are morally wrong. They say, “If you love me, you’ll . . . ” You don’t feel comfortable, but you do what they ask you to do. Then they get you to do something else and soon you feel trapped.
7. Remember that the person could be a female. Traffickers use females to lure in young girls and gain their trust. You should also be suspicious of a female who’s making you feel pressured in any way or does any of the above behaviors.
If you find yourself in a relationship as described above, get out before it’s too late. Turn to a trusted adult in your life, such as a family member, friend, teacher or counselor, for help.
I recently wrote a guest blog about a girl I met who’d been sex trafficked at fifteen. For her story and the advice she had for young people like her, go to Denise Jaden’s YA Contemps blog.