Violence and threats of violence

Violence or the threat of violence can be used at any stage of the trafficking process to control a victim. Victims, or their friends and/or relatives, may be the subject and targets of the threats and violence.

Direct violence at the early stages of the trafficking in persons process may vary according to local conditions at the source location and the type of trafficking involved. For example, in cases of sexual exploitation, victims may be initially obtained through deception; violence and threats may only become apparent if a victim tries to escape or to achieve compliance when being exploited. Trafficking in persons for the purposes of warfare by contrast may involve violent abduction at the outset followed by long-term conditioning.

Victims may not be directly threatened but still live in great fear of violence. Simply suggesting the traffickers know where a victim’s family live or by telling stories about victims who have not complied in the past can imply threats. Traffickers may make an example of one person to encourage others to conform: the message does not have to be stated if someone else you have seen being exploited is severely beaten or even killed.

Traffickers may have a long reach in their ability to inflict injury. The victim may be aware a gang has members or associates where their own family lives. Again, the criminals may only have to imply a threat: it is only important that the victim believes it can be carried out, not that it actually can or will be.

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