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.
Clara* was trafficked at eighteen years old by a man she thought loved her. She was sent to Connecticut where she was forced to work long hours being sexually exploited.
He really used the boyfriend role as a way to gain my love and trust. You end up doing it because you think you’re in love, and you think he loves you. I was sent to Connecticut to a Massage Parlor in Hartford, and I worked from 10am till 1am for three days In a row. The first guy who bought me could’ve been my grandfather—it was horrifying. Then I go back home, still in college, still living with my parents. So now I’m becoming this other person, living two different lives.
I was so suicidal, I was hopeless, I was depressed, and I had no idea how I was going to put my life together. I began using drugs and turned back to sex trafficking. Before I knew it, I was addicted to heroin, lost everything, homeless, sleeping on park benches. The drugs become your trafficker at this point—I didn’t care if I lived or died. My brother died of an overdose in 2006, and I didn’t want my mom to lose another kid because she only had us two. I got sober, put it down and never looked back.
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: