Human Sex Trafficking

Human sex trafficking, or sexual exploitation, is by definition a commercial sex act that is induced by force, fraud or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age. A commercial sex act is any sex act that is traded for anything of value. These criteria must be met in order to prove human trafficking has occurred.

We often do a thing we don’t want to do; doing so is part of the beautiful mess of being human. Even the healthiest and most loving relationships require sacrifice at some point– a compromise of wants. The self-language might be” I really don’t want to do this, but I have to”. There is, and must be, a tipping point when obligation becomes something more sinister. So, how do we recognize the difference between compromise and obligation, and situations of force, fraud or coercion?

To say “I was forced to do it” is stating that what occurred was compelled and not a natural action. It implies that some sort of power or strength was used to control or persuade me to do it. Fraud is simply deceit or trickery, to intentionally deceive, or to act as an imposter in order to trick someone to commit a certain act. And coercion is extortion. It is to pressure or compel someone to act, or commit acts, against their will. When we make a compromise, we are still choosing to act. Decisions made in a compromise or obligatory situation are still choices we make, we still have the freedom the think out the consequences and make a choice. Force, fraud and coercion take our choice away.

Traffickers are really good at finding personal vulnerabilities in which to induce a person to act against their will. Someone who is being trafficked doesn’t have to be physically tied up or chained to a bed. Psychological and emotional threats have the same kind of power over a person as physical chains, especially if an adolescent is the target. This is why human trafficking is referred to as the crime hidden in plain sight. It is possible for persons being trafficked to walk among us, and unless we are well versed in knowing signs, symptoms and red flags we might not recognize what we are seeing.  There is something you can do. Learn what you can about human trafficking, and then talk about it. You can call The Women’s Community, or visit these recommended websites to learn more about human trafficking:

National Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign

Shared Hope

Polaris Project

Brenda Bayer, Human Trafficking Advocate