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 Sex Trafficking

These are a few methods traffickers and pimps use in commercial sexual exploitation and domestic sex trafficking.

The Internet

The internet is the number one method in the U.S. used for the buying and selling of children and women for sex.

There are several ways to disguise the reality of trafficking on the internet, such as putting of fronts (escort services, massage services, live video chat, pornography, i.e.). Sex trafficking is alive and thriving on websites such as,, and Ads may appear to be posted independently, but are actually written and paid for by a pimp or trafficker.

Code language is often used to avoid red flag terms typically associated with child prostitution and/or sex trafficking. Some websites do attempt to monitor sex trafficking taking place; however the more website traffic there is, the harder these ads are to spot. They simply go unnoticed, or it is difficult to distinguish from individuals who are the voluntarily posting for escort services.


Pornography is directly linked to sex trafficking. Pimps can use it as training and desensitization for the children and women to prepare them for 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, to meet the demand.

Consumers of porn are typically unaware that much of it is a result of trafficking. In fact, it is nearly impossible to distinguish between an independent porn star and a trafficked person. Pornography, inevitably, increases the demand for prostitution, which leads to more women and children being trafficked for this purpose.

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 the city of St. Louis street prostitution still occurs along the riverfront and south of downtown.

Trafficked victims usually have a daily quota to meet–either a specific amount of money ($500-$1,000) or provide services to a set number of men. In most circumstances, the money is then pocketed by the pimp.

Strip Clubs

Although strip clubs are considered “victimless” entertainment, 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.

Stripping or exotic dancing is used to desensitize trafficked victims to the world of prostitution. VIP rooms or special services may provided by trafficked women–or even children

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-$1,000), 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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