What is sex trafficking?

Sex trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery involving the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, or of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability, for purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.

Sex traffickers target victims and use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage and other forms of control and manipulation to force them into the sex trafficking industry.

Adults, teens and children can all be victims of sex trafficking. Victims can be trafficked from abroad, or within their own communities in the United States, including cities, suburbs and rural areas.

Some individuals are more susceptible to being trafficked, such as immigrants, runaway and homeless youth, and individuals who have experienced previous violence or trauma.

How does sex trafficking relate to domestic violence?

The dynamics between a victim of trafficking and his or her trafficker can mirror the dynamics of power and control that characterize domestic violence. The tactics used by recruiters, traffickers, and their agents are often the same as the tactics used by batterers. These tactics can include:

    – Isolation of the victim

    – Withholding food or sleep to induce exhaustion, weakness, or fatigue

    – Threats of harm to the victim or the victim’s family and friends

    – Degradation, including humiliation, name-calling and insults

    – Forced drug or alcohol use

Like domestic violence victims, victims of sex trafficking may face extraordinary hurdles to seeking help.