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Key Information You Need to Know About Sex Trafficking

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Commercial sexual exploitation is through force, fraud, and/or coercion. This is sexual slavery. Trafficked women and children feed a high worldwide demand for sex slaves, pornography, and prostitution. Traffickers consider people, especially children, to be commodities or renewable resources that can be exploited again and again. The combination of low risk plus high demand and enormous profits, it is easy to see why sex trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry.

For anyone under age 18, force, fraud, or coercion are not required elements of the crime.  The law states that any minor in the commercial sex industry is a sex trafficking victim.


  • Beating and slapping
  • Beating with objects
  • Burning
  • Sexual assault
  • Rape
  • Confinement and physical restraint


  • False promises
  • Deceitful enticing and affectionate behavior
  • Lying about working conditions
  • Lying about the promise of a better life


  • Threats of serious harm or restraint
  • Intimidation and humiliation
  • Creating a climate of fear
  • Intense manipulation
  • Emotional abuse
  • Creating dependency and fear of independence

Each victim has a different story as to how she was introduced, coerced, manipulated, or forced into the lifestyle. Some are lured in by the prospect of a well-paying job, fame, or enticing false advertisements promising to move them abroad or across town for a better life. Others are mesmerized by the love and attention that a doting “boyfriend” lavishes upon them, rendering them unable to recognize the truth of the situation.  Their prince is actually a pimp. Unfortunately, many children are sold by their parents directly to a john or pimp or kicked out of their home.  This makes them easy prey for a manipulating pimp. Traffickers understand the economic motivations and psychological exploitation that will entice a person to leave her family.

No. Victims come from all backgrounds, including middle- and upper-class families. Poverty is one of many factors that make individuals vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking.

Traffickers typically prey on individuals who are vulnerable in some way, making them easier to recruit and control. Targets include those suffering from poverty, crisis, emotional issues, ignorance, despair, and hopelessness.

Smuggling is a crime against a country’s borders. Human trafficking is a crime against a person. Human trafficking involves commercial sex acts, labor, or services induced through force, fraud, or coercion. Although the word ‘trafficking’ sounds like movement, the federal definition of trafficking does not require transportation over borders.

Under federal law, an individual using physical or psychological violence to force someone into a labor or sex industry is considered a human trafficker. While some victims experience beatings, rape, and other forms of physical violence, many victims are controlled by traffickers through psychological means, such as threats of violence, manipulation, and lies. In many cases, traffickers use a combination of direct violence and mental abuse.

Victims of trafficking often do not see themselves as victims. They do not seek help because of lack of trust, self-blame, or training by traffickers.

While human trafficking occurs in illegal and underground markets, it can also occur in legal and legitimate settings. Common locations include private homes, large hotels, nail salons, restaurants, bars, and strip clubs.