Sex Trafficking: Profile of a Victim

Human Trafficking Youth Victims

Holly is thirteen-years-old, living with her newly separated mom. Like many teens, Holly loves social media and spends a lot of time on Snapchat and Kik. This is where she meets John, who introduces himself as a friend of one of her classmates. John and Holly quickly begin chatting regularly and finally decide to meet. The first meeting is at an open, public place, with a lot of other teenagers around, so Holly feels very comfortable. She likes John a lot and quickly plans their next meeting. This time though, John wants to meet at the park. This meeting quickly takes a turn for the worse when John’s friend Tony arrives. Tony takes Holly to a hotel, sexually assaults her and begins selling Holly for sex. Tony makes sure that Holly knows that what she’s  doing is against the law, so she can never tell a police officer or anyone else about it or she will be thrown in jail. Tony may also resort to physical violence with Holly. He may threaten to hurt her mother if she tries to run away. Holly feels trapped and sees no way out.

Trafficking of kids is happening today. In your community.

Holly may be a fictional character however, her story is a prime example of what happens to many young girls in the U.S. Many of these young girls are runaways, but there are others that live a perfectly normal life in a warm, loving environment. Many people don’t realize how prevalent and widespread sex trafficking is in the United States. Statistics estimate that hundreds of thousands of young people, primarily between the ages of 11-14 are the victims of sex trafficking.

What is sex trafficking exactly?

It’s when people, usually a woman or child, are bought and sold for forced labor or commercial sex. The victim is forced through rape, beating and coercion to perform for the “buyer.” In most cases the trafficker has convinced the victim that what they are doing (prostitution) is illegal and if they contact authorities they will be thrown in jail. This builds a distrust and even hostility towards law enforcement from the victims, making it especially challenging to rescue the victims of these crimes.

How do they find their victims?

Many victims are found through online social sites. A typical victim could be a teenage girl that has had family problems and has likely been through abuse in the past, but not always. These girls are befriended and “courted” by the trafficker. Slowly building a relationship and their trust, until they finally establish a time to meet. Once the victim and the trafficker meet, the trafficker will begin to ask for “favors” which could involve the victim engaging in sex acts with the traffickers clients. The trafficker quickly establishes control over the victim by threatening with either physical violence or threats of turning them into their parents or the police for their illegal activities and ensuring they go to jail. For the young women and girls that find themselves in this place, they feel there is no way out.

There is a way out from minor sex trafficking.

Fortunately there are organizations, such as Guardian Group that focuses on working with local law enforcement to stop trafficking. If you think you know someone who is being forced into human trafficking, your first step of action should be to call 911. Secondly, read through our website for resources on indicators, become aware, and bring the fight to human trafficking!   Learn more about volunteering to help stop this crime.