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.
Tina was trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation in the state of Nebraska. Here she talks about the role that drugs play in trafficking women in the state, and how their lives are affected even after they have escaped.
There are some that are going to be there, but most of the females out there are under age or they are of age and they’re forced to do it. They’re hooked on drugs and that’s how they can’t get out is because they’re on drugs and they get that money to keep the drugs in the system…a man that’s controlling them and abusing them…
Yeah, like a safe house. Yeah, a safe house with counseling but it should have rehab in it for the ones that are, you know, they got addicted to drugs because there’s a lot of females out there that have just done cocaine because their pimp got them on that so they don’t leave. It’s a way of…it’s controlling the women with the drugs.
A lot of women, they don’t believe that there’s a safe place. They feel like they’re being set up, you know? I think – I think once they’re – they realize that there’s help out there, and I know a lot of these females are underage and I know a lot of them do want help. They do want help they’re just really scared…
You have to just – it’s a way of talking to the females, and not only just talking to them but letting them know there’s help and that they’re – they’re gonna be, they’re not going to get hurt…
In human trafficking they get “tickets” and that’s on their records for the rest of their lives. I think those should – I really think those should go away because I don’t think that – that’s not fair at all for them women to have to have that on their record…because most of the females on the street that I have known from working on the streets they’re not there to be there, you know?...They can’t get a good job with that on their record…if there is proof of the women being in human trafficking and being forced into it I think…you know, erase that from their files.
Narrative as found in Shireen S. Rajaram and Sriyani Tidball, “Nebraska Sex Trafficking Survivors Speak —A Qualitative Research Study,” Faculty Publications, College of Journalism & Mass Communications (2016)