When most people think of sex trafficking they view it as an issue in foreign countries but unfortunately we need to analyze much closer to home. Sex traffecking affects girls/boys/ young adults who are American trafficked within America.
Victims are in every county, state, and rural town in the US. They are the girls next door taken in by a persuasive predator or being kidnapped into sex slavery. The victim does not need to cross state or international lines to be trafficked. It can happen in their own hometown.
“Sex traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage, and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. Under U.S. federal law, any minor under the age of 18 years induced into commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking—regardless of whether or not the trafficker used force, fraud, or coercion” , reported by The Polaris Project.
Sex trafficking is expected to bypass drug trafficking in the next 10 years because the victims are considered a “renewable commodity”. A trafficker can make around $100,000 a year, per victim. The average age of a girl that is sex trafficked within the US is 12 and it has been declining as the age of puberty has decreased. The average age is expected to lean more toward the age of 10. In 2013, the United States Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) estimated 27 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. The International Labor Office (2014) projected that human trafficking generates $150 billion of annual illegal profits worldwide” from UTexas.
The majority (99%) of girls sex trafficked in the US have previously been sexually abused and did not receive proper therapeutic interventions, making them vulnerable to predators. Only 1% of girls that have been sex trafficked, successfully escape and ended up in a safe environment for treatment.
The common diagnosis with this level of complex trauma are PTSD, anxiety, panic attack disorder, OCD, mood disorders, dissociative disorder, personality disorders like borderline personality disorder, and substance abuse. The common evidence based therapy treatments used are CBT, Exposure Therapy, EMDR, Stress Inoculation Training, DBT, Hypnosis, Art and Music therapy and Substance Abuse programs like SMART, 12 step and Matrix. An important part of treatment, beyond receive group and individual therapy is family therapy because most families do not know how to effectively handle the trauma, shame and guilt related to the complex trauma the victims faced and the social stigma of sex work whether voluntary, coerced or forced.
If you know someone that is a victim of sex trafficking then reach out to the national sex trafficking hotline:
Written by: Karen Limme