Q: What is sex trafficking?
A: Sex trafficking is when a sex act is induced for profit by force and without consent. A sex act for profit means a sexual service such as prostitution, pornography, or any other type of sexual performance is provided in exchange for an item of value. Domestic sex trafficking is the commercial sexual exploitation of American women and children within U.S. borders for money or other compensation such as shelter, food, drugs, etc. This is synonymous with sex slavery, sex trafficking, prostitution, and commercial sexual exploitation.
Q: What are these methods?
A: In order to lure victims and keep them trapped in the cycle of prostitution, traffickers often use force, make threats, provide the victim with drugs, withhold the victim’s identification documents, encourage prostitution as a way to pay off a debt, or use various forms of trickery.
Q: What kind of sexual assault is happening?
A: In addition to sex trafficking, one in three Native American women reports being raped. Statistically, these cases rarely see justice. Nationwide, an arrest is made in only 13 percent of the sexual assaults reported by Native women. Native women are 2.5 times more likely to experience sexual violence than women of any other race.
Q: Why don’t victims escape when they have the opportunity?
A: Traffickers and pimps use physical, emotional, and psychological abuse to coerce young women and girls into a life of sex trafficking. Traffickers are master manipulators and employ tactics to create trauma bonds with victims. Traffickers often use the threat of violence against victims or victims’ loved ones to secure their submission.
Q: How do traffickers recruit victims?
A: Traffickers use social media sites to recruit teenagers. Many pimps often use a “lover-boy” technique to attract girls from middle and high schools. A lover boy will present himself as a boyfriend and woo the girl with gifts, promises of fulfilled dreams, protection, adventure—whatever she perceives she is lacking. After securing her love and loyalty, he will force her into prostitution.
Q: What makes a young person vulnerable to sex trafficking?
A: Age is the primary factor of vulnerability. Pre-teen or adolescent girls are more susceptible to the calculated advances, deception, and manipulation tactics used by traffickers and pimps; no youth is exempt from falling prey to these tactics. Traffickers target locations youth frequent such as social media sites, schools, malls, parks, bus stops, shelters, and group homes. Runaway or homeless youth as well as those with a history of drug abuse and physical and sexual abuse may have an increased risk of being trafficked. Vulnerability also extends to those in difficult home situations, often ones that do not provide a protector who is looking out for their well-being.
Q: Who are the ones trafficking the victims?
A: A large number of victims are being trafficked by their own family members. A trafficker can be a parent or guardian. A trafficker can be an aunt or an uncle, or it can be a boyfriend or another friend. The often close relationships between abuser and abused present a maze of problems. Victims often fear the community and think that authorities won’t believe them, so instead they defend the trafficker.