The Issue

The Facts

Thank you for your interest in learning about the devastating reality of domestic sex-trafficking. The issue of sex-trafficking in the United States is vast, yet the majority of individuals are unaware of its prevalence. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, sex-trafficking is defined as a “commercial sex act induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.” Although slavery was abolished nearly 150 years ago, it is still alive and thriving today, and American children are now among the most vulnerable. Please join the fight against domestic sex-trafficking by educating yourself and community.

Federal Definition

Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act 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.

Methods of U.S. Sex-Trafficking

These are the specific methods that traffickers and pimps commonly use to follow through with their threats, coercion, abduction, fraud, deceit, and deception, which are used to lure victims into the sex industry and to keep them under their control.

The Internet

The Internet has been identified as the number one method, in the U.S., of the buying and selling of children and women for sex.

There are many ways to disguise the reality of trafficking on the internet, like putting of fronts such as escort services, massage services, live video chat, pornography, or additional various services. Sex trafficking is alive and thriving on websites such as,, and, among numerous others. It is often advertised as though they have posted independently, when in reality, they are being controlled by a pimp or trafficker.

Often times, specific code language (such as mentioned in the “Terminology” section) is used in this Internet business to go under the radar of overtly being child prostitution and/or sex trafficking. Some websites do attempt to check for sex trafficking taking place, however the more website traffic there is, the harder it is to spot. They simply go unnoticed, or it is difficult to distinguish between individuals who are the voluntarily and those who are under a pimp or trafficker.


Pornography is directly linked to sex trafficking. Pimps can use it as a sort of training and desensitization for the children and women, as they prepare them to be involved in prostitution. Also, as the industry of pornography continues to grow, the demand for women and children grows as well. This leads to an increase in the trafficking of people, so that the demand needs can be met.

While many consumers of porn are unaware that much of it is a result of trafficking, the reality is that it is nearly impossible to distinguish between an independent porn star and a trafficked person. This means that more consumers are viewing victims instead of those who are there voluntarily. Pornography also, inevitably, increases the demand for prostitution, which leads to more women and children being trafficked for the purpose of prostitution.

Street Prostitution

Due to the increase in Internet prostitution, street prostitution now makes up only 10-20% the sex trade. However, it does still exist, for example in our city of St. Louis south along the riverfront and south of downtown.

Trafficked victims usually have a daily quota that must be met, whether it is an amount of money ($500-$1000) that must be made every night that is then pocketed by the pimp, or whether it is an amount of customers they must service each night.

Strip Clubs

Although many people today view strip clubs as fun entertainment where nobody is victimized, the reality is that many of the workers are forced to participate in stripping, dancing, and other acts to service the customers of the club.

This often happens when pimps/traffickers want to desensitize trafficked victims to the world of prostitution, and to train them into what will be expected of them in their future. Although customers of strip clubs may try to overlook it, the reality is that many of the strippers are forced to be there, or are children who are being trafficked. While this is true, the demand for these women and children is also ever increasing.

Organized crime is also known to be linked to these strip clubs. Often, victims are threatened and told that they owe a debt to the organization. This forces them to be there, working for the organization. Also within strip clubs, daily quotas often exist, when traffickers force the victim to make a certain amount of money (typically $500-1000), and then pocket the cash for themselves.

Massage Parlors

Some types of massage parlors exist only to disguise operating brothels. Two common types include Asian Massage Parlors, and Korean Massage Parlors. These do exist in most every state in the United States. They are often located within strip malls, office buildings, and residential homes. Often, women and children are required to live at the location and service men 7 days a week.

Many of these women and children are not U.S. citizens — they are often upon entering the U.S. and sometimes their immigration documents are sometimes taken by their trafficker. The victims are left without a way to communicate, without a support system, and without any knowledge of any legal rights they may have.

Many times victims in massage parlors are told that they are paying off a debt by performing these commercial sex acts. They also may be wrongly enticed into what they thought was a legitimate job offer, but ended up to be a false lure into a trafficking situation.

Truck Stops

Interstates are one of the main ways that traffickers traffic their victims. Because of this, truck stops are a prime place for the buying and selling of children and women. There is certain terminology and language used by truckers (such as in the terminology section), and the code is especially communicated using CB radios, or flashing headlights and stickers on trucks.

Residential Brothels

Sex trafficking occurs here when women and children live on-site at the brothel, which are commonly residential homes, apartments, condos, and trailers. The victims are forced to perform commercial sex services for 20-48 men, daily.

Traffickers often manipulate victims psychologically, for example, by pretending to be their boyfriend. Recruitment can also take place by falsely promising a job to a victim. Such jobs may include waitressing, modeling, and other seemingly legitimate jobs.

Traffickers also use the tactic of unfamiliarity to work in their favor. For example, a victim will be transported from one location to another, without having any sort of chance to gain a feel for their surroundings. This leaves one even more disoriented and confused than to begin with. With victims who are not U.S. citizens, often times their immigration documents will be confiscated so that they are left completely dependent and unaware of any way to try and escape.

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