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2019 (Narrative date)

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.

Katerina was trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation at the age of thirteen.

Soon enough there was a trafficking ring that spotted my vulnerability, being alone, having low self-esteem‑coming from a dysfunctional home life. They spotted that. There was an older girl that recruited me, and she came up to me as a big sister. Her name was Mary and she was 19 and thin and pretty, and everything I thought I wanted to be. She introduced me to her pimp. I didn’t know he was a pimp. I thought he was a nice man, like a father.

[Soon after, Katerina remembers finding herself inside a hotel room dressed as a bride, convinced she was playing a game. She remembers the locked door and the drugs on the table.]

This guy who was half dressed, with a beer belly hanging out, ready to partake in his transaction.


Narrative source Youth Underground, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing human trafficking through youth education, awareness-raising and advocacy.

Original narrative can be found here: