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.
Bianca began speaking to a man she had met online and when she turned sixteen, she left home and travelled to see him. She went to Vegas where the man trafficked her into prostitution. He threatened to kill anyone that tried to take her home and forced Bianca to start taking drugs. She was finally able to leave and later heard that he had been arrested.
I came across his tattooing page on Instagram. I saw he had a lot of followers and I liked his tattoos, so I would like his pictures and he started liking mine… He would comment on my pictures and we exchanged numbers... We started talking and texting. And then once I was 16, I left home and… “Shy” kept telling me to go with him, and that I had a good chance of getting money… He was going to Vegas for his birthday and he just wanted me to go with him and have fun… We ended up having sex [at his tattoo shop].
And from there, we went to a motel, and I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen… But he ended up posting an ad for me and taking pictures of me... He said that he loved me… From there, he had me meeting with guys and I didn’t really know what to do…
When I wanted to leave, “Shy” told me I couldn’t… He was just a bad boy I guess, with tattoos and money and he seemed like he had it all—the cars, money, yeah everything. And I wanted to be with him… [Then] I realized how he was… He would have sex with other girls in front of me… He had his friends come to the hotel room and have them basically do whatever they wanted with me. And when I told him about it, he didn’t care… He just laughed. I was trying to leave every day… and “Shy” told me if I had anybody try to pick me up, he would kill them before they took off with me. I was really scared, and I didn’t want anything bad to happen to my friends…
At first I didn’t do drugs or anything. Someone was there and she went outside to get something for “Shy” and she came back with a little bag of white stuff and I didn’t even know what it was… And she started breaking it up and stuff and I was getting scared because I didn’t know what it was… And she would do her drugs and she was like, ‘it helps me stay up’ and I just was like clueless. I didn’t understand…
I probably only had 5-8 guys a day. [Then] it was up to like more than 20 guys a day… He would tell us, ‘you have to make $1000 and then you guys can go to sleep’. So that’s when I started using drugs… to stay up… He would hit us, he would take away our phones, he would threaten that he’d tell our families everything… And then I left.”
[Bianca then found out] “Shy” had been jailed. “I didn’t believe it but… I started to cry… I’m relieved, he’s locked up and I can go back living my life, I don’t have to worry about him contacting me, threatening me… I was free… He messed up our lives really bad. Some people may say because we decided to go with him that we messed up our own lives, but honestly… I’m pretty sure that if he didn’t talk to us the way he did, we wouldn’t be so scared… He played a lot of mind games with us… We were always scared… I lost my family over him because I believed him.
Narrative source Youth Underground, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing human trafficking through youth education, awareness-raising and advocacy.
The original narrative can be found here