According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center:
Sex trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years. Enactment of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 (TVPRA) makes sex trafficking a serious violation of federal law.
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 TVPRA recognizes that traffickers use psychological as well as physical coercion and bondage and it defines coercion to include ..physical restraint against any person or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an 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 can be women or men, girls or boys, but the majority are women and girls. There are a number of common patterns for luring victims into situations of sex trafficking including:
- A false marriage proposal turned into a bondage situation
- Being sold into the sex trade by parents, husbands, boyfriends
- Being kidnaped by traffickers
Sex traffickers frequently subject their victims to debt-bondage . They tell the victim that they owe money for living expenses and transport into the country.
Sex traffickers use a variety of methods to “condition” their victims including physical abuse, rape, threats to victims’ families.
Victims face numerous health risks. Physical risks include burns, sexually transmitted diseases, and miscarriages.
Psychological harms include mind/body separation and disassociated ego states. Victims are at risk for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder-acute anxiety, depression, insomnia..and self-loathing that is long-lasting and resistance to change.
Victims may also suffer from traumatic bonding-a form of coercive control in which the perpetrator instills in the victim fear as well as gratitude for being allowed to live.