Watching the local news last night I saw where two separate sex trafficking stings saved two teenage girls who had ran away from home and then found themselves forced into sex trafficking by men who controlled them through threats, physical violence and drug use.
One girl was 17 years old and was scared to leave the guy who took her from hotel to hotel advertising her over the internet. The other girl was a 14 year old runaway who was found drugged in the passenger seat of the sex traffickers car.
Both of these operations weren’t done in some shady part of town, but in a tourist area where hotels are often cheap and it’s easy for the sex traffickers to blend in with the multitude of tourists visiting our city.
Whenever I hear the word sex and trafficking put together I get an uneasy feeling in my stomach. Sex trafficking is a form of modern day slavery.
Victims of sex trafficking are usually female, are often under the age of 18 and coerced through force, fraud or coercion to perform sexual acts for money, drugs, favors, etc.,.
Often psychological coercion such as “No one loves you but me”, “Your family doesn’t want you”, “You’re nothing without me”, etc. are used and/or physical coercion such as violence, threats of violence and even physical bondage are used.
Sex traffickers use a number of ways of getting their victims. In foreign countries they are often lured by:
• A promise of a good job in another country
• A false marriage proposal turned into a bondage situation
• Being sold into the sex trade by parents, husbands, boyfriends
• Being kidnapped by traffickers
(Human Trafficking Resource Center)
Here in the United States, sex traffickers often lure runaway teenagers with the promise of love, protection, money and/or drugs.
Sex traffickers frequently subject their victims to debt-bondage, an illegal practice in which the traffickers tell their victims that they owe money (often relating to the victims’ living expenses and transport into the country) and that they must pledge their personal services to repay the debt.
In the United States sex traffickers often tell their victims that they owe them money for drugs, protection or housing.
Sex traffickers often “condition” their victims through confinement, rape, gang rape, beatings, starvation, physical abuse, forced drug use and threats of harm to their families or to shame them by making their family and loved ones aware of their activities.
Physical and Mental Risks
Some of the risks victims face are health risks, mental risk and alcohol and drug addiction.
Physical risks can include concussions, vaginal/anal tearing, broken bones, traumatic brain injury, sexually transmitted diseases, sterility, miscarriages, and forced abortions.
Mental risks include dissociation, depression, anxiety, shame, self-hatred, suicide, suicidal thoughts, distrust, fear, hatred towards men, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a sense of helplessness.
Victims may also suffer from traumatic bonding – a form of coercive control in which the perpetrator instills in the victim fear as well as gratitude for being allowed to live.
Types of Sex Trafficking Include
- live-sex shows
- mail-order brides
- military prostitution
- sex tourism.
Victims that are forced into prostitution and pornography are usually exploited the most and are at greatest risk of danger.
Sex Trafficking Operations
They can be found in highly-visible places such as on the street with prostitution, on the internet and residential houses. Like I said, here on the news it was discovered in a popular tourist location. Often they take place behind closed doors of massage parlors, strip clubs and other fronts for prostitution.
Some times victims may start off stripping, and then get tricked or persuaded into prostitution or pornography.
Help for Sex Trafficking Victims
If you think you have come in contact with a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1.888.3737.888.
This hotline will help you determine if you have encountered victims of human trafficking, will identify local resources available in your community to help victims, and will help you coordinate with local social service organizations to help protect and serve victims so they can begin the process of restoring their lives.
For more information on human trafficking visit http://www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking.
(National Human Sex Trafficking Resource Center)