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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.

Lena* left home at the age of fourteen and was trafficked in Oklahoma by a man for commercial sexual exploitation.

I started to feel a little uncomfortable because now I don’t really know where we were going. I don’t even know who this guy is. I was like, I can just get our right now and I can just go home, and I can tell my parents that I’m sorry that I left. And just then, as if he was reading my mind, he turns around and says, ‘don’t even think about asking me to let you out.’ We pull up at a truck stop. He tells us to get out and tells us what kind of prices we’re going to charge, and exactly what we’re going to do. It was like $20 for a blow job, $40 for sex and like $80 for both. And we get in the first truck and a guy decides he wants me. I just pray to God to please help me get through it. Then my friend went through his wallet and he had grandkids as old as us. And all I could think about the whole time was how my grandpa could be this guy right now and how that would make me feel. And I just wanted to die.

*Name given


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: