What is domestic minor sex trafficking?
Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking occurs when:
a U.S. citizen
under 18 years of age
is engaged in a commercial sex act
Kidnapping is not required. Transportation to another city, state or country is not required.
Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) sex trafficking requires force, fraud or coercion UNLESS the victim is a minor. Any minor used in a commercial sex act (the exchange of any item of value for a sex act) IS a victim of trafficking, regardless of their willingness or desire to engage in the sex act.
Victims of sex trafficking come from a variety of ethnicities and socioeconomic groups. Among the girls For The Silent serves, the average age of entry into the sex industry is 15 years old.
Many underage victims come from dysfunctional home lives and a history that often includes running away, truancy, drug abuse, and/or sexual abuse. Because the trafficker fills an existing void in the victim’s life, they often mistakes the exploiter for a boyfriend or caring adult. Due to fear and strong trauma bonds with the trafficker, victims rarely self- identifies, making it difficult for first responders to recognize them as a victim and intervene.
A trafficker, often known as a pimp, is anyone who profits by receiving cash or goods in exchange for a sex act with a minor.
Traffickers commonly use recruitment tactics such as seduction, befriending, and coercion to lure vulnerable youth. Traffickers rarely kidnap their victims. Instead, the chains are more often psychological, placed on victims through the manipulation of a trafficker who has taken advantage of their emotional and physical needs.
Buyers, also known as “johns,” are average citizens rather than abnormally sadistic psychopaths. They are all ages and from all social classes. Most are married or partnered.*
Sex trafficking is fueled by demand for commercial sex. Whether it’s pornography, prostitution or stripping, buyers demand a supply that traffickers often fulfill by preying upon the most vulnerable.
*Farley, M. (2007)
…most people who are going to, like, pay for sex don’t care how old you are.
Cause actually the younger you are, the better it is for them. Because, innocence. And that’s what everybody wants.
-Sex trafficking survivor
Myth: Human trafficking involves moving, traveling or transporting a person across state or national borders
Reality: Human trafficking is often confused with human smuggling, which involves illegal border crossings. In fact, the crime of human trafficking does not require any movement whatsoever. Survivors can be recruited and trafficked in their own home towns, even their own homes.
Myth: It’s always or usually a violent crime
Reality: By far the most pervasive myth about human trafficking is that it always - or often - involves kidnapping or otherwise physically forcing someone into a situation. In reality, most human traffickers use psychological means such as, tricking, defrauding, manipulating or threatening victims into providing commercial sex or exploitative labor.
Myth: All commercial sex is human trafficking
Reality: All commercial sex involving a minor is legally considered human trafficking. Commercial sex involving an adult is human trafficking if the person providing commercial sex is doing so against his or her will as a result of force, fraud or coercion.
Myth: People being trafficked are physically unable to leave their situations/locked in/held against their will
Reality: That is sometimes the case. More often, however, people in trafficking situations stay for reasons that are more complicated. Some lack the basic necessities to physically get out - such as transportation or a safe place to live. Some are afraid for their safety. Some have been so effectively manipulated that they do not identify at that point as being under the control of another person.
Myth: traffickers target victims they don’t know
Reality: Many survivors have been trafficked by romantic partners, including spouses, and by family members, including parents.
Myths/Realities via Polaris Project