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Domestic slavery

Domestic slavery is a type of human trafficking. It can happen in private, for example, in someone’s home. This makes it harder to find out who victims of domestic slavery are.

Victims may firstly be given a job by their abusers, sometimes as caregivers or helping around the home. To others, it may look like they are just doing their job.

When the victim is employed by the abuser, it can be difficult to see that they are being exploited or controlled by someone else. Over time, the victims job role may change, and their freedom may be taken away. This is when it becomes enslavement.

Family members can also be victims of domestic slavery. If it is a family member who is being taken advantage of, it might be that they are the only person in the home who takes care of everyone and everything.

A victim of domestic slavery will work around a person’s home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Anyone can be a victim of domestic slavery.  Below are some things to look out for if you suspect that someone is being exploited.

  • They have no income of their own
  • They can’t access their own identity documents
  • They are not allowed outside by themselves or, always have someone with them when they are outside
  • They appear to be in poor physical and/or mental health
  • They are the only person to complete all household tasks. This could be for several other people
  • They always have to be available to care for the house or family members
  • They seem to be underfed
  • They might not eat with other household members and do not have as much food as them. The food that they have might be poor quality.
  • They are not allowed to contact and/or meet their own family members or friends by themselves
  • They may not have use of a bathroom or, other areas of the house.
  • They are not allowed to get medical treatment on their own, the abuser may attend appointments with them, to act as an ‘interpreter’
  • They may have untreated injuries
  • They do not have a bedroom or a bed. They might have a small room or cupboard space. Sometimes they sleep on the floor with a blanket.
  • They have no privacy
  • If abuser of the victim is their husband or wife, they may openly have another relationship in front of the victim
  • They may have been told not to engage with anyone in authority for example, the police, and could be scarred of people that type of job.
Supporting You Safeguarding Toolkit Domestic slavery