Victims may consider themselves to be in a relationship with one or more of their traffickers.
Commonly seen examples include parents, family and boyfriend-girlfriend relationships and what is sometimes known as “Stockholm syndrome” where victims associate themselves with their captors and exploiters.
Relationship control may use a blend or other methods such as violence, deception collusion and taking oaths.
Parents and others with control over children have been found to be involved in child trafficking in many cases. Examples include “selling” children for labour or sexual exploitation, forced begging or domestic servitude. The control is often simply that the child trusts the parent or other relative or may have no choice in the matter.
Stockholm syndrome, also known as capture bonding, has been seen in a number of trafficking in persons cases. It may be difficult to determine if a person is complying with traffickers because they are suffering from the syndrome (an apparently irrational bond with their victimizers) or because they have made a rational decision that compliance is required to survive.
Boyfriend-girlfriend relationships are seen in many cases of trafficking for sexual exploitation.
This can range from a man who moves his girlfriend around for his friends to have sex with, to a person who targets a woman, forms a relationship and then deceives her into moving to another country.
Emotional control may be used where women are asked to “prove” their love by doing something they would not normally consent to. Victims may also be drawn into complicity in drug use or transport or asked to sell sex to support a man’s drug habit. Violence has been seen where “boyfriends” assault or threaten women to ensure compliance. Oaths and promises are common in relationships in some countries; this is exploited by traffickers in ways explained in more detail below.
Control within relationships between men and women for the purposes of trafficking in persons often have much in common with some forms of domestic abuse and can mirror attitudes within a society of acceptable behaviour between the genders or their respective roles. Victims may be vulnerable to this type of control if they have been in abusive relationships in the past.