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Wendy

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. Wendy Barnes was trafficked from the age of 15 across the US West Coast for nearly 15 years, from the mid 1980s until 2000. Her trafficker, Gregory Leon Hightower, was eventually arrested and sentenced to life in prison in Oregon. Wendy now lives in Southern California and works full time as a customer service representative. Her narrative is from an interview with Francine Sporenda for the Révolution Féministe website, originally published in French and then in English by Nordic Model Now!, a UK secular, feminist, grassroots women’s group campaigning for the abolition of prostitution and related practices. Wendy has published a book about her experiences titled And Life Continues: Sex Trafficking and My Journey to Freedom (2015).

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Kylee

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.  Kylee Gregg was trafficked in rural Ohio from the age of 10 until she was 14, beginning in 2010. She told her story at the age of 18, as a college student, during an interview with Francine Sporenda for the Révolution Féministe website. It was originally published in French and then in English by Nordic Model Now!, a UK secular, feminist, grassroots women’s group campaigning for the abolition of prostitution and related practices. Kylee identifies as a lesbian radical feminist and runs an activist organisation called Womyn Unleashed.

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Jewell

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.  Jewell Baraka was exploited for three years in prostitution and three years in pornography in the 1980s and 1990s, from age 11 to 17, in Portland, Oregon. Her narrative is from an interview with Francine Sporenda for the Révolution Féministe website, originally published in French and then in English by Nordic Model Now!, a UK secular, feminist, grassroots women’s group campaigning for the abolition of prostitution and related practices.

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Miguel

There are an estimated 403,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). The US attracts migrants and refugees who are particularly at risk of vulnerability to human trafficking. Trafficking victims often responding to fraudulent offers of employment in the US migrate willingly and are subsequently subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in industries such as forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Miguel travelled from Mexico to the United States in search of work to support his family, including his sick son. Miguel along with five others paid for assistance to cross the boarder to the US and on to Florida where they were met by their ‘boss’ who informed them they would work to pay off their debts. Miguel tells of how he was forced to work under constant threats for little pay.

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Flora

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.Flora was trafficked in to prostitution at the age of 14 when she ran away from home after her mother committed suicide. She left with who she thought was her boyfriend, however within a week he had trafficked her to a different state and she was forced to provide sexual services.

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Rachel (Narrative 2)

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.Rachel became involved in drug abuse at a young age. Her trafficker used her addiction and threats against her friends and family to force her in to prostitution.

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Terry

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.  Terry was sexually abused at the age of 15 by her boss, an event that she pinpoints as the seed from which her problems began. That same year she suffered a number of other traumas that led to the beginning of her cocaine use.  10 years later, married with children, Terry’s drug use became out of control and she lost custody of her children and ended up on the streets. Within two months of this, she found herself trafficked in to a life of prostitution. Here Terry, now executive director of the survivor led organization Breaking Free tells of the environment in which many women subjected to forced prostitution grow up in, describes who it is that sets the demand for prostitutes, and tells of the warning signs among children vulnerable to trafficking. 

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Melissa

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.Melissa was sexually abused from a young age. At the age of 12 she was taken to a warehouse where she was forced to provide sexual services to much older men. Melissa was subjected to extreme physical violence one night when she was set on fire at the age of 13. When authorities tried to return her to her family after the incident, she chose to run away, join a gang and continue a life of prostitution for some time.

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Marlene

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. Marlene was 15 years old when she was forced in to prostitution by a couple that lived in her neighbourhood. She was taken around the country forced to provide sexual services for eight months. Carson now works to provide services and support to other young girls have been trafficked in to prostitution.

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Leah Albright-Byrd

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. Leah ran away from home when she was 14 years old. She went to live her drug dealer in Sacremento who soon forced her to ‘contribute to the household’ by providing sexual services. Leah was in the life for four years before she was able to escape. She speaks of the role faith has had in enabling her to work through her trauma.

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Noel Gomez

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. Noel was coerced into becoming a prostitute in Seattle when she was 16. She spent 15 years in the life, trying to escape numerous times and being subjected to physical and sexual abuse on a daily basis. When she was finally able to escape, Noel managed to get a job, a degree and founded her own organisation to help other women and girls subjected to forced sexual exploitation in the city.

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Marisol

There are an estimated 403,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). The US attracts migrants and refugees who are particularly at risk of vulnerability to human trafficking. Trafficking victims often responding to fraudulent offers of employment in the US migrate willingly and are subsequently subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in industries such as forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Marisol Garcia Bejarano spent seventeen years in prison for a crime she did not commit. A survivor of human trafficking she was trafficked from Tijuana to California and was raped and beaten by her trafficker. Marisol witnessed a murder committed by the man who bought her for $200 when she was just thirteen years old. After years of holding her as his domestic servant and sexual slave, he then framed Marisol for his murder, and she went to a California prison for his crime.

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Juana

There are an estimated 403,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). The US attracts migrants and refugees who are particularly at risk of vulnerability to human trafficking. Trafficking victims often responding to fraudulent offers of employment in the US migrate willingly and are subsequently subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in industries such as forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation.  Juana first travelled from the Philippines to Kuwait in 1985 where she was subjected to domestic slavery. Locked in her employer’s house and unable to communicate with her family. From here, Juana’s ex-husband’s sister helped her leave Kuwait and travel to the United States. Here she became a domestic worker where she suffered withholding of pay and unfair dismissal. With the help of a local grassroots organisations, Juana was able to win back her unpaid wages and now works with the organisation to help other domestic workers in the US.

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Catie

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. Catie was 18 years old when she moved from Colorado to San Francisco and met a man at a nightclub. She began a relationship with this man that soon became coercive and manipulative. Catie was forced in to prostitution and threatened with violence daily. Catie was eventually able to escape her situation and twenty years later as a survivor has moved on with the help of Oakland-based non-profit AnnieCannons whose mission is to teach sex trafficking survivors how to develop software and websites.

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Fainness

There are an estimated 403,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). The US attracts migrants and refugees who are particularly at risk of vulnerability to human trafficking. Trafficking victims often responding to fraudulent offers of employment in the US migrate willingly and are subsequently subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in industries such as forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation.  Fainness started working for a diplomat in Malawi. Fainness states that while in Malawi everything was fine and there were ‘no red flags’. However, once she was taken to the US everything changed. Fainness was forced to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week and was paid less than 50 cents an hour. She was forced to sleep on the basement floor and wasn’t allowed to use the family’s soap or shampoo because she was told she would ‘contaminate’ them. Fainness was subjected to constant surveillance by her employer, who would tell her as a diplomat, she was immune from the law. After three years, Fainness was finally able to escape when her employer came home drunk and left the garage door open. Fainness’ friend took her to a lawyer and she was able to sue her employer, being awarded over $1 million in damages.

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Taylor

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. Taylor was forced to provide sexual services by a man who told her he would care for her. Taylor tells of how she was completely controlled by this man and branded with a tattoo. It was only when her mother saw her on Backpage and reported it to the police that she was able to leave her situation.

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Katrina

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.  Katrina Owens, sex trafficking survivor and peer advocate for sexually exploited children, gives her perspective on the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), how she got out, and what the public should know about the young victims of commercial sexual exploitation. 

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Samantha A

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. At 14 years old Samantha ran away from home and became involved with a local gang. She tells of how she was controlled by these people and forced to provide sexual services. The gang controlled when she ate, when she slept and if she showered. Samantha was finally able to escape by jumping out of a car while with a customer.

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Christi

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. Christi became addicted to drugs while in high school. Though she went to rehab at the age of 18, after leaving her drug abuse continued. One day, her boyfriend told her that she would have to prostitute herself to get them drugs. Even after leaving this man, she met another who took her to Memphis and forced her to provide sexual services, using her addiction as a form of control. Christi states that when she got arrested, she hit rock bottom and called her mom to help her get out of the situation. Christi is now a wife and mother active in her church and community. She supports the local drug court as a mentor and speaks publicly about sex trafficking and awareness.

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Sara B

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. Sara B fell in with the wrong crowd during high school and became addicted to drugs and alcohol. After school, Sara began working for an escort service where she believed she could earn good money. However, Sara did not receive any of the money she earned and felt like she could not leave. Sara’s drug addiction became worse, until one day she was taken to a drug house and raped by several men. It was after this that Sara decided she couldn’t do it anymore. She moved to St Louis, attended college, worked with inner-city kids and travelled to Thailand to council exploited women on how to get help. Sara is currently a health care worker.