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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.

Stephanie* was trafficked by her friend’s father for commercial sexual exploitation. The men that raped her threatened her if she said anything. Her exploitation led her to addiction and prostitution.

I was trafficked by a friend’s father. It came in a place that you would never suspect it. And that was in my middle school. I was in 7th grade and they blindfolded us and took us to a brothel. They had paid her father $40 for each of us. They let me know what would become of me if I ever told anyone. They told me they knew where I lived, the knew who my teachers were, they knew what school. They knew everything about me. There’s nothing I could do to protect myself, and at 14 years old, I didn’t even know where to begin. I dropped out of school and became addicted to drugs. Prostitution didn’t seem so foreign anymore. At 15, I had given up on myself. I belonged to the street. I belonged to whoever would show me kindness or give me cocaine.

*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: