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  • Tags: 1980s-2000 (Enslavement period)


There are an estimated 403,000 people living in modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). Sex trafficking exists throughout the country. 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. The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary, many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces them into prostitution. Others are lured with false promises of a job, and some are forced to sell sex by members of their own families. Victims of sex trafficking include both foreign nationals and US citizens, with women making up the majority of those trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. In 2015, the most reported venues/industries for sex trafficking included commercial-front brothels, hotel/motel-based trafficking, online advertisements with unknown locations, residential brothels, and street-based sex trafficking. Wendy Barnes was trafficked from the age of 15 across the US West Coast for nearly 15 years, from the mid 1980s until 2000. Her trafficker, Gregory Leon Hightower, was eventually arrested and sentenced to life in prison in Oregon. Wendy now lives in Southern California and works full time as a customer service representative. Her narrative is from an interview with Francine Sporenda for the Révolution Féministe website, originally published in French and then in English by Nordic Model Now!, a UK secular, feminist, grassroots women’s group campaigning for the abolition of prostitution and related practices. Wendy has published a book about her experiences titled And Life Continues: Sex Trafficking and My Journey to Freedom (2015).