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.
Pamela* was trafficked for sex and child pornography at the age of five by a group of people her family were involved with.
When I was a little girl, my family was part of a group of people that severely sexually abused me, and that led to me posing for pornographers and doing sex acts for the cameras and being raped in front of the cameras. I was sold to several pimps, then me being sold to friends dong whatever they wanted to do. It was taking place in suburban neighborhoods.
When I was 21, a lady approached me and gave me a piece of paper, and she told me that if I ever wanted help, that she would be there. So it wasn’t for quite a while later that I actually got the courage to call her, and that turned into several months and the message she constant told me is ‘This is not who you are,’ and ‘People cannot define who you are, especially sex cannot define who you are, and you are so much more than this.’ She told me I could make a choice, and I could make the choice to leave.’ For me it was a long long struggle of me in my mind having to redefine what was happening to me realising that this was wrong. This was not normal. It was not OK. It brought me the courage to say it stops, it stops now.
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: