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Exploitation and How to Protect Yourself

General exploitation is treating a person unfairly to benefit from their work. Exploitation can involve the use of threats, manipulation, or force to get someone to do something they do not want to do for the benefit of another person. It can take many forms; it could look like an employer forcing an employee to work for little or no pay or it could look like a romantic partner threatening harm if their partner doesn’t perform sex acts for money, drugs, or a place to stay.

If you learn what exploitation looks like and how it starts, you can learn to say no and protect yourself and others.

False Job Promises

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of offers for jobs in fields that are typically hard to break into, such as modeling and acting, or offers in remote locations, faraway states, and foreign cities. Dangerous individuals may lure victims into isolation away from their friends and family.

Indicators of a false job promise could include:

  • The payment and the job description do not seem to match (for example, a high hourly salary for a typically low-paying job).
  • The employer does not request any information about your previous work experience.
  • The employer asks for a photo of you as part of the application process.
  • The employer asks a lot of personal questions about you that are not relevant to the potential job.
  • The employer requests a substantial fee to cover the costs of uniforms or other expenses.
  • The employer asks you to keep the job a secret or lie about your age.

False Promises of Love

Individuals looking to exploit others will use emotional, mental, and financial support to gain trust and build dependency in potential victims. Indicators of a potentially exploitative relationship include if your partner:

  • Demands that you tell them where you are at all times.
  • Makes you ask for permission to leave the home or to socialize with others.
  • Limits your communication with friends, family, and loved ones.
  • Threatens to hurt you or your loved ones if you don’t do what they say.
  • Holds on to your identification cards, other personal documents, or money.
  • Makes you feel unsafe to be around them.
  • Provides you with financial support that requires you to ask for money when you need it.
  • Makes you work at a job where you do not receive your own paycheck.
  • Forces you to perform sex acts for them or others for money or in exchange for other items of value, like drugs.