The U.S. Sex Trafficking Epidemic

Human trafficking is nothing short of an epidemic in the United States. Anyone with a Twitter account is likely reminded of this every day, seeing viral posts of people’s desperate attempts to find their family members, often their children. So, why is this happening? What is being done about it? How can we as women feel safe? The National Human Traffic Hotline official website reported over 59,000 cases of trafficking since 2007, and each case can include more than one person. Though, there are laws in place that attempt to diminish sex-trafficking, it is still a very prevalent problem. Girls and women must be aware of this danger, especially if you live in areas that may be more at-risk, such as college campuses and urban areas.​Image Courtesy of FairPlanet

The recruitment of victims of sex trafficking can happen in many ways and in many places. One method that traffickers use is through social media and dating websites. From 292 survivors of human trafficking, whose cases were analyzed by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, 8% had met their controllers online. This is why it is so important to take precautions when meeting people online through dating apps and other similar platforms where one might be at risk. Victims can also be lured in through false advertisements for jobs such as modeling or dancing. Other times where people fall victim to this epidemic is through people they know, such as abusive romantic partners or family members (Polaris). 

Human trafficking takes place at various locations and people of every age range are targeted, but mainly teens and early adults. The most common location where sex-trafficking takes place is at hotels and motels. Other common places are street-based, through escort services, strip clubs and bars, etc. The most targeted age range is adolescence and early adulthood. From a group of 123 human trafficking survivors who disclosed their information to the NHTRC, 38 were 14-17 when they first became a victim, 35 were 18-21, and 19 were 22-25. ​

Image Courtesy of Morgan & Morgan 

The National Human Trafficking Hotline provides a list of general safety tips to follow. Always trust your guts, if you’re in a situation and you feel uncomfortable, leave immediately! Always let someone you trust know where you are going if you need to go somewhere alone. Always have emergency contacts ready at hand. Of course, calling 9-1-1 is the first step to take if you feel like you are in immediate danger. It is also suggested that you keep the number of an emergency contact with you at all times, just in case you end up in a situation where you don’t have access to your phone. Do not let important documents with your personal information get into the wrong hands. Remember that you have the right to keep those with you and not share them with an employer/partner if you do not want to. 

The National Human Trafficking Hotline is 1-888-373-7888. Call this number if you or someone you know is in need of support or assistance in a situation of human trafficking.