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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.

Avery* was 12 years old when she was trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation by a woman who promised her a job in modelling. She was kidnapped, beaten, raped, deprived of food and water, and when she returned home remained under the control of her trafficker until she was 18 years old.

When I was 12 and a 1/2, I was seduced by the idea of modeling for a woman. Little did I know she was a sex trafficker who spirited me away into a world of high class escorting mixed with BDSM and torture. I was raped repeatedly for a weekend, and beaten, and given a new name and a new mommy. I was deprived of food, water and sleep. When I returned home I was under her control completely and I continued to be stuck under her power until I turned 18.

I thought I was going with her and having sex with men because I wanted to. I was brainwashed into believing that I was never going to be wanted by anyone else. I started losing time. I was sold several times a night to the dirtiest people. I had the best clothes, the best make-up, and no one could tell that I was only a child.

By 14, I had already had a couple of abortions. At 15, I started a relationship with a boy I knew who abused me and raped me, humiliated me by giving me to his friends, and beat me constantly.

Each year I thought I would die. I was told I would be dead before I turned 18. I left.

I suffer from PTSD. I have DID.

I have not healed yet.


Narrative provided by Breakthrough US