About Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a severe form of exploitation for labor (including sex) involving force, fraud, or coercion.

Exploitation: The action or fact of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work.

Force: To make someone do something against their will.

Fraud: Wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.

Coercion: The practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats.

Woman alone in room looking away

Who experiences it?

Human trafficking is a crime against a person, not a border. It can impact individuals from a range of diverse backgrounds and identities, including:

  • Those at risk of or experiencing homelessness
  • Individuals struggling with substance dependency
  • LGBTQIA+ community members
  • Sex Workers
  • Minors not residing with legal guardians
  • Undocumented individuals
  • Asylees and refugees
Become a referral agency

Where does it happen?

Human trafficking occurs across Colorado, in both urban and rural areas. It can take place in a variety of settings and sectors, including:

  • Food service and hospitality
  • Construction
  • Farming and agriculture
  • The commercial sex industry
  • Temporary foreign worker visa programs
  • Debt bondage scenarios with recruiters or smugglers
  • Involuntary servitude or forced marriage arrangements
  • Exploitative labor operations involving children
“What I want people to know is that they have rights. They have rights to the money that they earned. They have rights to leave an employer. They have rights to access the resources that they need to build better lives.”

Amanda Finger

LCHT Executive Director

How to help

Volunteer

Become a volunteer advocate for Colorado’s Human Trafficking Hotline. Advocates take calls/texts remotely and are trained to handle a variety of scenarios with a focus on connecting callers to the hotline’s vetted list of statewide resources.

Get Trained

Grow your knowledge about human trafficking. LCHT leads trainings for community groups and a variety of professionals on the frontlines of combatting human trafficking in Colorado.

Donate

Your generosity has the power to advance progress through anti-trafficking training, community-based research, the strengthening of Colorado’s 24/7 Human Trafficking Hotline, and the development of future human rights leaders.

Stay informed

Keep up with the latest in Colorado’s anti-trafficking movement.

Sign up for LCHT’s e-newsletter and receive updates and stories right to your inbox.

Common myths & misconceptions

Myth: Only foreign nationals or immigrants can be trafficked.

Reality: US citizens, visa holders, and undocumented workers—can all be exploited and are all protected under federal human trafficking laws.

Myth: Human trafficking requires travel or crossing borders.

Reality: Transportation isn’t essential. While often used for control, it’s not required to qualify as human trafficking as defined. Trafficking ≠ migration or smuggling. It’s a crime against a person, not a border

Myth: Human trafficking equals human smuggling.

Reality: Smuggling crosses borders, trafficking abuses people. Different U.S. federal crimes. Smuggling breaches borders illegally; trafficking involves forced labor or commercial sex through coercion, without needing transportation.

Myth: Human trafficking requires physical force or bondage.

Reality: Trafficking doesn’t demand physical restraint or harm be present. Psychological control through threats, fraud, or abuse suffices. The Traffficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 expanded to cover subtler coercion beyond just bodily harm, contrasting earlier standards.

Myth: Trafficking victims immediately ask for help.

Reality: Survivors don’t always seek help instantly or even identify as victims. Factors like mistrust of systems, trafficker manipulation, and trauma can prevent victims from seeking aid or connecting with resources for a long time.

Myth: Trafficking victims only arise from poverty.

Reality: Poverty can make people vulnerable, but it’s not the sole cause. Trafficking affects various income levels; even those from higher socioeconomic backgrounds can be exploited

Myth: Sex trafficking is the only form of human trafficking.

Reality: The federal definition of human trafficking encompasses both sex trafficking and labor trafficking, and can impact both adults and minors of all genders.

Myth: Human trafficking only occurs in illegal underground industries.

Reality: Trafficking exists in legal businesses too, not just underground markets. It’s reported in places like restaurants, hotels, and farms, as well as within black markets like street-based commercial sex work.

Myth: If victims consented initially, it can’t be human trafficking.

Reality: Initial consent doesn’t matter if force, fraud, coercion, or minors are involved. It’s not relevant to the crime, nor is payment.

Myth: Foreign national victims are always undocumented.

Reality: Not all foreign victims of human trafficking are undocumented; many are exploited in the U.S. while possessing legal visas.
What’s Happening in Anti-Trafficking

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Over the years, we’ve worked with incredible Leadership Development Program participants. This three-month internship program draws people from all walks of life. We’ve supported undergraduate students just entering the workforce, late-career professionals switching fields, and everything in between.

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Support the movement to end human trafficking.