Safety Planning

What is Safety Planning?


Safety planning can include risk assessments, preparations, and contingency plans to increase the safety of a human trafficking victim or an individual at-risk for human trafficking, as well as any agency or individual assisting a victim. Safety plans:

  1. Assess the current risk and identify current and potential safety concerns;
  2. Create strategies for avoiding or reducing the threat of harm;
  3. Outline concrete options for responding when safety is threatened or compromised.

Safety planning is important while a victim is experiencing trafficking, during the process of leaving, and once the victim has left. Consider these tips for conducting safety planning with victims of human trafficking as well as those who may be considering suspicious jobs or relationships and may be at risk for human trafficking. We cannot guarantee an individual’s safety or the prevention of trafficking after using these suggestions. Each individual is in the best position to assess his/her own current level of safety and safety planning should be tailored to his/her unique circumstance.


General Safety Tips

  • Trust your judgment. If a situation/individual makes you uncomfortable, trust that feeling.  
  • Let a trusted friend or relative know if you feel like you are in danger or if a person or situation is suspicious.  
  • If possible, set up safety words with a trusted friend/relative.
    • One word can mean that it is safe to talk and you are alone.
    • A separate word can mean you are not safe.
      • It is also important to communicate what you would like done (cease communication immediately, call 9-1-1, meet somewhere to pick you up, etc.).
  • Keep all important documents and identification in your possession at all times. Your partner/employer does not have the right to take or hold your documents without your permission.  
  • Keep important numbers on your person at all times, including the number of someone you feel safe contacting if you are in trouble.  
  • Make sure that you have a means of communication (cell phone or phone card), access to your bank account, and any medication that you might need with you at all times.  
  • If you think you might be in immediate danger or you are experiencing an emergency, contact 9-1-1 first.


Potential Red Flags for Human Trafficking Situations

The following scenarios might be red flags for relationships or jobs that may develop into human trafficking. One or more of these may indicate that an individual is at-risk for sex or labor trafficking. This list is not exhaustive.

The Intimate Partner or Employer: 

  • Comes on very strongly and promises things that seem too good to be true – i.e. promises extremely high wages for easy work.  
  • Expects that you will agree to the employment or relationship on the spot, and threatens that otherwise the opportunity will be lost.  
  • Is unclear about the terms of employment, location of employment and/or the company details/credentials.  Partner/employer denies access to information about your rights.
  • Denies contact with friends or family or attempts to isolate you from your social network.  
  • Constantly checks on you and does not allow you access to your money.
  • Asks you to do things outside of your comfort zone such as performing sexual favors for friends.  
  • Displays signs/characteristics of a dangerous person including: attempts to control movement and behaviors, exhibits jealousy, lashes out or delivers punishment in response to noncompliance, is verbally/emotionally/physically abusive.  
  • Uses threats or displays of violence to create a culture of fear.

Information taken from


Questions to Ask


  1. Can you leave your job if you want to?
  2. Can you come and go as you please?
  3. Have you been hurt or threatened if you tried to leave?
  4. Has your family been threatened?
  5. Do you live with your employer?
  6. Where do you sleep and eat?
  7. Are you in debt to your employer?
  8. Do you have your passport/identification? Who has it?

Where to get help:

If you believe you have identified someone still in the trafficking situation, alert law enforcement immediately at the numbers provided below. It may be unsafe to attempt to rescue a trafficking victim. You have no way of knowing how the trafficker may react and retaliate against the victim and you. If, however, you identify a victim who has escaped the trafficking situation, there are a number of organizations to whom the victim could be referred for help with shelter, medical care, legal assistance, and other critical services. In this case, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888. 


Project P.A.T.H.