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.
Vicky was trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation in the state of Nebraska. She talks about the role drugs played in her trafficking and the importance of listening to those who have experienced trafficking.
The way I was brought into it was by drugs… it’s a lot of men who are on those, methamphetamine is that main drug that leads it into it. That’s the number one drug out 10 here in Nebraska…and that drug is a drug that gets a lot of men, getting on like, turned on by women doing that to go make their money; it’s their hustle.
Honestly, it would take the first step of them wanting help…so pretty much you can’t lead somebody some way in and then expect them to talk. What you, you kind of got to like take it slow and them be patient and let them, let them ease into trusting you to get them to talk…They got to take the step to want help. And it took me a long time to ask for help. It did.
From the survivors, from the ones who have been out here. I think listening to them and their stories, I think, would be a whole lot better for them to realize, like, maybe this is a cold cruel world out here because honestly, it is hard…nobody, nobody cared about how you feel out here in the streets. …from one who’s been through it since 19, I mean, honestly, I can tell you like, it’s not fun when you get taken advantage of. It’s not, it’s really not.
Narrative as found in Shireen S. Rajaram and Sriyani Tidball, “Nebraska Sex Trafficking Survivors Speak —A Qualitative Research Study,” Faculty Publications, College of Journalism & Mass Communications (2016)