The fact that no two relationships look the same is truly beautiful, but something that every relationship should be is healthy. It may come as a surprise to some that unhealthy relationships are a significant factor in human trafficking, a crime that in Canada rarely involves smuggling or kidnapping. In fact, sex trafficking most often begins with someone the victim knows, loves and trusts, which is why awareness of what constitutes a healthy relationship is at the heart of putting a stop to sex trafficking.

It’s important that anyone who’s in a relationship understands that love doesnt come at a cost and that they should never be put into an unsafe situation by someone they love. Unfortunately, human traffickers often gain trust by creating the illusion of a healthy, happy relationship, making it difficult for a victim to see their situation clearly.

Because of this emotional manipulation, family and friends of victims have a critical role to play in the fight against human trafficking. It doesn’t just happen to young women—people of all genders and ages can be targeted—and theres no one sign that indicates a person is being trafficked. Rather, multiple pink flags will combine to be a red flag. Pink flags can include changes in appearance, cuts, bruises or tattoos and even new possessions such as expensive gifts or multiple cellphones. Someone who is being trafficked will likely seem anxious, secretive or defensive and under the control of their partner. 

“If something in your gut feels off, chances are it is,” says Julia Drydyk, Executive Director, the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking. “We would urge anyone concerned for their welfare, or for someone they know, to get in touch.”

If you are a victim or survivor of human trafficking or even if you simply have questions, please call the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010 at any time. All calls are confidential and will be answered by a team member who will listen, is trauma-informed and will not judge or share any information unless requested. This hotline can help loved ones keep lines of communication open with those at risk, and it can connect those in need with community resources as they find a way to safely exit their situation. You can also reach out by chat at

To find out more about how you can help put an end to human trafficking, visit