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.
Brittany ran away from home at the age of 10 or 11, after her stepfather became abusive. One day while in a supermarket she met a man who offered her a modelling job. However, instead, Brittany was put in a van, taken to Chicago and forced to provide sexual services for men. She was finally rescued at the age of 14/15 after an undercover police officer visited the brothel. She has now been adopted by a foster family.
When I was 7 my biological dad passed away and my mom started dating another guy. He was a nice guy at first and then he became very abusive to my sister and I.
When I was like 10 or 11 I ran away from my mom’s house, got into trouble. I ran away from there with another girl. We went to her parent’s house in Cedar Rapids and her dad wasn’t very nice either. He tried making us do things so he could get drugs and stuff from other people, and I left there. I think I was just walking down one of the aisles and then a guy approached me. I said I’m just looking for some food to get and he said, do you have any money to get it and I said no. he asked me if I wanted a modelling job and he told me that I’d have all this money and I could have food and shower and all this stuff. And then I went with him. He had some people from Chicago come and another girl came. He told me I was gonna go with them. And when I refused to go with them, they took my pants off and beat me with a belt.
And then they put me in their van and took me to Chicago.
They took me to their van and took me to Chicago with that other girl. And left us at a house that was really old and looked run down and there were people stood outside with guns. And he left me there with a guy. The pimp. He came into the room and he took pictures of me and posted them on craigslist and he gave me a cell phone that I had to answer when someone called. There were people outside my door watching my room and I had to do stuff like sexual things with guys when they would come, and then give the money to the guy outside my room.
There was a girl that tried running away and then he brought us all into the same room and told us all that if we did what she had tried to do then we were gonna get beat like she did and he beat her in front of us.
There was a day I got called on the phone about someone who wanted to come and the guy that came into the room pretended that he was going to do all the same things that everyone else did. But he ended up being an undercover police officer and he arrested me, and took me to the Cook County police department and he questioned me. I was only 14 going on 15 and I told him how old I was. He knew that I ran away because I told him I did, because I wanted to go back home.
I don’t want what happened to me to happen to anybody else. Anybody could pick you up. And it all happens really quickly. And I think a lot of the people that do the human trafficking stuff, have less of a chance of getting caught in a smaller community is what they’re thinking.
Narrative produced by Braking Traffik