Understanding General Exploitation

General exploitation involves treating a person unfairly to benefit from their work. This can include using threats, manipulation, or force to compel someone to do something against their will for another's gain. Exploitation can take many forms, such as an employer forcing an employee to work for little or no pay, or a romantic partner threatening harm if their partner doesn’t perform sex acts in exchange for money, drugs, or a place to stay.

By learning to recognise the signs of exploitation and understanding how it begins, you can better protect yourself and others by saying no.

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Recognising False Job Promises

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be cautious of job offers in fields that are typically hard to break into, such as modelling and acting, or offers in remote locations, distant regions, 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 align (for example, a high hourly salary for a typically low-paying job).
  • The employer does not ask for any information about your previous work experience.
  • The employer requests a photo of you as part of the application process.
  • The employer asks many personal questions that are not relevant to the potential job.
  • The employer demands 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.

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Recognising Potentially Exploitative Relationships

Individuals seeking to exploit others often use emotional, mental, and financial support to gain trust and create dependency in potential victims. Signs of a potentially exploitative relationship include if your partner:

  • Demands to know your whereabouts at all times.
  • Requires you to ask for permission to leave the house or to socialise with others.
  • Limits your communication with friends, family, and loved ones.
  • Threatens to harm you or your loved ones if you don’t comply with their demands.
  • Withholds your identification cards, other personal documents, or money.
  • Makes you feel unsafe in their presence.
  • Provides financial support but requires you to ask for money whenever you need it.
  • Forces you to work at a job where you do not receive your own pay.
  • Coerces you into performing sex acts for them or others in exchange for money or other valuable items, such as drugs.

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Online Safety Tips to Avoid Exploitation

Exploiters often access potential victims online because not everyone is aware of the dangers or how to stay safe. They frequently target online meeting places, like social media sites, to lure their victims.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind while using social media:

  • Avoid sharing personal information, such as where you live, work, go to school, or details about your personal life.
  • Set your profile to private so only your real-life friends can access it.
  • Never accept friend requests from people you don’t know in real life.
  • Don’t share photos that you wouldn’t want your parents, guardians, or friends to see.
  • If someone uses a photo to threaten or blackmail you, talk to a trusted adult about how to protect yourself or get help.
  • If you plan to meet someone in person whom you met online, do so in a public place, like a restaurant or coffee shop, and inform a trusted friend about who you are meeting, where, and when.
  • Research job offers that seem too good to be true by reading reviews on company rating websites or reaching out to current or past employees to verify the information.
  • If someone seems suspicious or you think you might be in a potentially exploitative situation, tell a trusted adult. Reporting the person could prevent them from exploiting others.
  • Trust your instincts. If something feels wrong about a conversation you’re having online, end the conversation and block the profile.


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