Sex Trafficking

Sex Trafficking Hotline Call 1-888-373-7888
This hotline is for victims or suspected victims of sex trafficking or any form of human trafficking and is available and bilingual 24/7 Sex Trafficking telephone Hotline

Sex trafficking is a form of modern-day form of slavery in which a “commercial” sex act is induced by force, fraud, or compulsion, or in which the individual induced to perform such a sex act is under the age of 18 years.

The (sex) Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 defines the term ‘commercial sex act’ means any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.

The (sex) Trafficking Victims Protection Act also recognizes that sex traffickers use psychological and well as physical coercion and bondage, and it defines coercion to include: threats of serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform a sex act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; or the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process. victims of sex trafficking and what they face

Victims of sex trafficking can be women or men, girls or boys, but the majority are women and girls. There are a number of common schemes for luring victims into situations of sex trafficking, including:

• A promise of a good job in another country
• A false marriage proposal turned into a bondage situation
• Being sold into the sex trade by parents, husbands, boyfriends
• Being kidnapped by sex traffickers

Sex traffickers frequently subject their victims to debt-bondage, an illegal practice in which the sex traffickers tell their victims that they owe money (often relating to the victims’ living expenses and transportation expenses into the country) and that they must pledge their personal services to repay these expenses before they can obtain their release. Of course, with exorbitant amounts of “interest” added to the original “debt”, freedom for the sex trafficking victims is just another empty promise or tool that the sex traffickers use to manipulate their victims.

Sex traffickers use a wide variety of methods to “manipulate” their sex trafficked victims including starvation, confinement, beatings, physical abuse, rape, gang rape, threats of violence to the sex trafficked victims and the victims’ families, forced drug use and the threat of shaming their victims by revealing their activities to their family and their families’ friends.

Victims of sex trafficking are submitted to numerous health risks. Physical risks include drug and alcohol addiction; physical injuries (broken bones, concussions, burns, vaginal/anal tearings); traumatic brain
injury (TBI) resulting in memory loss, dizziness, headaches, numbness; sexually transmitted diseases (e.g., HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, syphilis, UTIs, pubic lice); sterility, miscarriages, menstrual problems; other diseases (e.g., TB, hepatitis, malaria, pneumonia); and forced or coerced abortions. These sex trafficked victims are typically “used” or sold 30 to 40 times per day.

Psychological impairments include mind/body separation/disassociated ego states, shame, grief, fear, distrust, hatred of men, self-hatred, suicide, and suicidal thoughts. Victims are at risk for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder – acute anxiety, depression, insomnia, physical hyperalertness, self-loathing that is long-lasting and resistant to change (complex-Post-traumaticc Stress Disorder).

Victims of sex trafficking may also suffer from traumatic bonding – a form of coercive manipulation in which the sex trafficker infuses in the victim fear as well as gratitude for actually being allowed to live.

Victims of sex trafficking are forced into various forms of commercial sexual exploitation including prostitution, pornography, stripping, live-sex shows, mail-order brides, military prostitution and sex tourism. Some countries or cities actually advertise and promote this type of sex tourism to generate revenue from sex trafficking.

Victims sex trafficking are forced into prostitution and pornography and are usually involved in the most exploitive forms of commercial sex operations. Sex trafficking operations can be found in highly-visible venues such as street prostitution, as well as more underground systems such as closed brothels that operate out of residential homes. Sex trafficking also takes place in a variety of public and private locations such as massage parlors, spas, strip clubs and other fronts for prostitution.

Victims of sex trafficking may start off by being forced into dancing or stripping in clubs and then be coerced into situations of prostitution and pornography.

Assistance for Victims of Sex Trafficking:

When victims of trafficking are identified, the U.S. government can help them adjust their immigration status, and obtain support and assistance in rebuilding their lives in the United States through various programs. By certifying victims of trafficking, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services enables sex trafficking victims who are non-U.S. citizens to receive Federally funded benefits and services to the same extent as a refugee. Victims of sex trafficking who are U.S. citizens do not need to be certified to receive benefits. As U.S. citizens, they may already be eligible for many benefits.

Through Department of Health and Human Services, sex-trafficked victims can access benefits and services including food, health care and employment assistance. Certified victims of trafficking can obtain access to services that provide English language instruction and skills training for job placement. Since many victims
are reluctant to come forward for fear of being deported, one of HHS’ most important roles is to connect victims with non-profit organizations prepared to assist them and address their specific needs.

These organizations can provide counseling, case management and benefit

If you think you have come in contact with a victim of human sex trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center
at 1-888-373-7888. 

This sex trafficking hotline will help you determine if you have encountered victims of human sex trafficking, will identify local resources available in your community to help victims of sex trafficking, and will help you coordinate with local social service organizations to help protect and serve victims so they can begin the process of
restoring their lives.

For more information on human trafficking visit


NOTE: The Trafficked Victims Protection Act also recognizes labor trafficking, which is discussed in a separate fact sheet.

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