It was late afternoon on a Sunday in Minnesota when Beth Jacobs, at age 16, missed her bus ride home. She asked an acquaintance to help her out, and he agreed to give her a ride. The last thing she remembers is sipping from a McDonald’s cup in his car. When she woke up, it was dark. She was at a truck stop somewhere between Minneapolis and Chicago. Her simple life as a teenage girl was over. Despite objections, tears and begging for help, Beth never made it home. Instead, he beat her and drove her to Chicago, where she spent the next six years forced into prostitution. Right here in America, with many witnesses hearing her cries, Beth was trafficked. Today, she firmly believes that if more people knew how to identify human trafficking and report it, someone would have helped her at that dark truck stop years ago.
“People saw what was happening to me, but I don’t think they knew what to do.” – Beth Jacobs
If you see signs of human trafficking, call 1-888-373-7888
10 Tips for How to Identify Human Trafficking and Help
Today, Beth works as a field trainer for an organization called Truckers Against Trafficking. Traveling the country, she shares her story and trains truck drivers on how to identify human trafficking. Her goal is to teach them how to help victims when they see it happening. “Truck drivers are the eyes and the ears of the road,” Beth said. “They can help law enforcement so much.”
With that said, here are 10 tips for how to identify human trafficking and help victims when you see it.
1. Vehicles that seem out of place
If you see vehicles such as RVs or vans that are in the truck parking section of the parking lot, this could be a sign of trafficking. Often times, traffickers will bring the victims to the clientele. They do this by parking near the trucks and then soliciting their services. Pay attention to vehicles like this at truck stops.
2. People unable to speak for themselves
This sign for how to identify human trafficking is a little more obvious. If you are talking to someone who seems unable to speak for themselves, they could be a victim. Often times, the trafficker speaks for the victim. The victim may not able to answer simple questions like, “Does your family know where you are?” or “Do you know where you are right now?” Often times, victims of trafficking don’t necessarily know where they are taken to.
3. CB chatter about “commercial company” or “buyer location”
Sometimes you’ll hear CB chatter about trafficking. If you hear talk about a “commercial company” or a “buyer location” up ahead, this could be someone tipping people on where to go to find, essentially, other people to buy.
Any sign of violence could indicate trafficking. In Beth’s case, she was beaten in public at a truck stop. Although it was dark, people could see what was happening to her. If you see something like this take place, this is a reason to call the trafficking hotline or the police.
5. Not in control of personal possessions
If someone doesn’t have control of their own ID or money, this could mean that someone else is controlling these possessions for them against their will.
6. Tattoos or branding
Some traffickers or pimps will tattoo or brand their victims to mark that they belong to them.
7. Obvious cries for help
If you hear obvious cries for help, don’t ignore them. You can call the hotline to report trafficking without revealing your own identity or getting directly involved.
8. Educate yourself
Another way you can learn how to identify human trafficking is to educate yourself through trainings, such as those provided by Truckers Against Trafficking.
9. Educate others
Educate others about trafficking so that they can learn how to identify human trafficking too. Help people to understand that this can happen to anyone. It even could be happening right in front of you without you knowing it.
10. Use your voice
The final way for how to identify human trafficking and help is to use your voice. Beth informed us that there is a federal bill written to help trafficked victims who were convicted of crimes while being trafficked. Their criminal records follow them around, despite the fact that they escaped. Many survivors struggle to get jobs because of it. The bill Beth spoke of is something that would enact vacating laws. Essentially, it will give traffic victims the chance to explain their charges to a judge and let a judge decide if their charges can be wiped clean. If you hear of federal or state legislation like this, vote for it.
“We have so much power,” Beth said. “I don’t think people realize how much power we have in our voices.”
“I just needed a ride home” – Hear Beth’s Story Now!
So how did Beth get from being trafficked in a dark Midwestern truck stop to the successful advocate she is today? Listen to Beth share her experience in the video below!
WARNING: LISTENER DISCRETION ADVISED. THIS AUDIO CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT OF A VIOLENT NATURE AND MAY BE UPSETTING TO SOME PEOPLE.
Listen to Big Rig Banter’s original interview with Beth Jacobs here:
“This can happen to anybody. I was asking for a ride home with somebody that I already thought I knew.” – Beth Jacobs
Again, if you see signs of trafficking while on the road, call the hotline operated by PolarisProject.org: 1-888-373-7888