The Kentucky Commission on Women is dedicated to
elevating the status of women and girls in the Commonwealth,
empowering them to overcome barriers to equity, and
expanding opportunities to achieve their fullest potential.

Human Trafficking

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is a crime involving the exploitation of someone for the purposes of compelled labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Human trafficking affects individuals across the world, including here in Kentucky. Human trafficking affects every community across age, gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic backgrounds. 

Why Trafficking Exists

Human trafficking is a market-driven criminal industry that is based on the principles of supply and demand. Many factors make children and adults vulnerable to human trafficking, however, human trafficking does not exist solely because many people are vulnerable to exploitation. Instead, human trafficking is fueled by a demand for cheap labor, services, and for commercial sex. To ultimately solve the problem of human trafficking, it is essential to address these demand-driven factors, as well as to alter the overall market incentives of high-profit and low-risk that traffickers currently exploit. Left unchecked, human trafficking will continue to flourish in environments where traffickers can reap substantial monetary gains with relatively low risk of getting caught or losing profits 

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While data on the prevalence of human trafficking in the United States are scarce, due to the covert nature of the crime, some research suggests that trafficking is widespread. In 2016, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline (National Hotline) received 26,727 reports of human trafficking in the United States, resulting in 7,621 cases referred to law enforcement—a 36.7 percent increase from 2015 (National Human Trafficking Hotline 2016). Sex trafficking represented the majority (73.3 percent) of the cases referred by the National Hotline in 2016; labor trafficking represented 14.0 percent of cases, 3.5 percent of cases were dual sex and labor trafficking victimizations, and 9.2 percent were unclassified (Polaris Project 2017).


Children, unfortunately, are not exempt from this heinous crime. Rescue and Restore KY, a Catholic Charities of Louisville program reported that 332 trafficking victims have been identified since 2008. A startling 60% of these victims were children. Arecent University of Louisville study, Youth Experience Survey (YES): Exploring the Scope and Complexity of Sex Trafficking in a Sample of Youth Experiencing Homelessness in Kentuckiana, found that 40% of homeless youth surveyed identified with being a victim of sex trafficking. The National Human Trafficking Hotline keeps an up-to-date count of the number of tips reported in Kentucky. Given that human trafficking is often overlooked and underreported because the crime is occurring on the margins of society and behind closed doors, the numbers are assumed to be substantially higher. A human trafficking victim could be sitting in a classroom in your district at this very moment (Kentucky Department of Education). 

Know the Signs

Every day, thousands of individuals become victims of human trafficking and many of those individuals pass through Kentucky. Recognizing the warning signs that someone is being trafficked and knowing what to do if you see them are key ways you can help those trapped in this tragic reality. 

 Red Flags:   

These are some key red flags that could alert you to a potential trafficking situation that should be reported:

  • Living with employer
  • Poor living conditions/multiple people in cramped space
  • Inability to speak to individual alone
  • Answers appear to be scripted and rehearsed
  • Employer is holding identity documents (passport, security card, etc.)
  • Signs of physical abuse/Bruises in various stages of healing
  • Submissive, timid/Fearful of telling others about their situation
  • Unpaid or paid very little
  • Under 18 and in prostitution
  • Limited freedom of movement
  • Displays substance misuse

Child Specific Warning Signs:

  • Often going missing/truanting
  • Secretive
  • Has unexplained money/presents
  • Seen entering or leaving vehicles with unknown adults
  • Showing evidence of physical/sexual assault (including STD’s)
  • Showing signs of low self-image/self-harm/eating disorder​
  • Associating with/being groomed by older people
  • In relationships with significantly older people

Questions to Ask

If you are able to speak with a potential victim privately and without jeopardizing the victim’s safety and your own, here are some sample questions to ask to follow up on the red flags which alerted you:

  • Can you leave your job if you want to?
  • Can you come and go as you please?
  • Have you been hurt or threatened if you tried to leave?
  • Has your family been threatened?
  • Do you live with your employer?
  • Are you in debt to your employer?
  • Do you have your passport/identification? Who has it?
Need Help? 


Call 1(888)373-7888

Text HELP or INFO to 233733

Get a Decal!

KCW has car window decals available to help raise awareness for Human Traffickingn in KY. Contact our office if you would like us to send you our decal.​​

​Scarlet Hope
Scarlet Hope exists to share the hope and love of Jesus Christ with women in the adult entertainment industry. They believe that when Jesus gave the Great Commission, He didn’t just say to share the Good News when people ask us about it; He commanded to GO. As a group of God-fearing men and women, Scarlet Hope meets people where they are, and through relationship building, they share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Free2Hope Inc. is a local non profit 501(c)3 charity organization fighting human trafficking throughout Kentucky.They use a unique model that they believe will systemically disrupt human trafficking and makes communities safer for all community members. Their mission is to take new, proactive approaches to prevent human trafficking and other sex crimes against women and children throughout the state.
End Slavery Now
End Slavery Now believes everyone has a role in ending slavery. They try to illustrate the many different ways normal, everyday individuals can get involved in the fight. From volunteer opportunities to resource sharing to curating all of the different opportunities to take action, their tools are designed to assist you.

National Human Trafficking Hotline
The National Human Trafficking Hotline is a national anti-trafficking hotline serving victims and survivors of human trafficking and the anti-trafficking community in the United States. The toll-free hotline is available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year in more than 200 languages.