In our previous blog, we discussed how to identify victims of human trafficking and how to properly report them. A topic that can be just as important as identifying victims of human trafficking is grooming.

#1. What is grooming?

Grooming is the process traffickers use to control and manipulate someone into human trafficking. Although the specific actions are different, traffickers usually follow the same steps: gain the victim’s trust, provide for the victim’s needs, isolate the victim, force the victim into trafficking.

#2. Who is targeted for grooming?

Traffickers target those who are vulnerable and in need. This can be anything from a physical need such as money to an emotional need such as attention. Traffickers make themselves appear trustworthy and gain their victims’ trust before they turn on them. For instance, many traffickers appeal to young women by showering them with romantic attention. The trafficker will then later ask for favors to pay back for all their “niceness.”

#3. What are some signs something is being groomed?
  • New things: Traffickers often shower their victims with gifts like a new phone or expensive clothes. Look for someone having lots of nice, new things out of the blue. Pay close attention if they won’t tell you where the gifts came from.
  • Attitude and behavior change: Traffickers do their best to manipulate the feelings and emotions of their victims. They start out being overly nice and slowly transition into aggressive behaviors, leaving the victim confused and frustrated. Look for someone who is suddenly moody for no apparent reason.
  • New friends and disconnecting: A trafficker’s ultimate goal is to isolate the victim. Traffickers want their victims to feel like they have no one to turn to as they are forced into trafficking. Look for someone who is hanging out with a new friend group and is distant even when with their close friends and family.
#4. What should I do if I notice these signs?

Don’t wait. Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (888) 373-7888 immediately if you suspect you or someone around you is being groomed. You’ll be able to talk to a trained professional 24/7 about the next steps you should take.

This article had many pieces taken from our Red Flags course. Red Flags is a completely online, 2-hour course that trains individuals how to identify and report human trafficking as well as covering common misconceptions people have about modern-day slavery. If you would like to learn more about this course and receive more great information, visit