Sex Trafficking

Overview

Sex Trafficking
Local Resources, Fact, Warning Signs and Help

If you or someone you know needs help, we are here.

A healthy relationship does not include one partner requiring the other to have sex with others. If you, or a friend, want more information, there is a website with information just for you. Go to www.yourcleanslate.org.

There is No Such Thing as a Child Prostitute

Minors engaged in commercial sex are victims of sex trafficking and child sexual abuse. Any effort to minimize their experience or shift responsibility to the child is wrong and intolerable.

Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) are targeted by traffickers, groomed, and exploited for the purpose of commercial sex acts. They are victims and deserve a trauma-informed response that does not hold them responsible for their own victimization or crimes they were forced to commit as a result of the victimization.

Human Trafficking – The Basics

Human Trafficking is defined based on age of the victim, country of origin, and type of victimization:

Age: Trafficking victims may be minors (up to 18 years old) or adult (18 years or older). Minors under age 18 engaged in commercial sex acts are victims of sex trafficking, even if they are not forced. Minor victims of sex trafficking may also be referred to as Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC).

Country of Origin: Victims of trafficking born in the U.S. are domestic victims and those born outside of the U.S. are referred to as foreign-born victims.

Type: Individuals can be victims of labor trafficking or sex trafficking. Labor trafficking typically involves manual labor including agricultural work, hospitality work (i.e. maids), construction, etc. Sex trafficking encompasses victims forced or coerced into performing commercial sex acts. In some cases, such as massage parlors, an individual may be a victim of both labor and sex trafficking.

Human Trafficking is determined based on Action, Means, and Purpose.

Action includes the recruitment, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining an individual for the purpose of labor or sexual exploitation.

Means refers to the use of force, fraud, or coercion to establish and maintain control of the victim.

Purpose refers to the intent to use the exploit the victim for labor or sex.

Sex Trafficking Defined

Technical Definition: Sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act.

Sex trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. Sex traffickers frequently groom victims and then use violence, threats, lies, false promises, debt bondage, or other forms of control and manipulation to prevent victims from leaving.

Victims of sex trafficking can be anywhere. Some will work the streets or in establishments that offer commercial sex acts (brothels, strip clubs, pornography industry). Some operate under the guise of massage parlors, modeling agencies, strip clubs, etc.

Youth At Risk for Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking victims are diverse. Victims of all genders and gender identities have been identified. Victims may be of any race or ethnicity. Minor victims are an average of 12 to 14 years of age when first lured into trafficking. Children as young as 9 years old have been rescued.

There are some youth who are more at risk for sex trafficking, including:

Runaways
Youth involved in the Foster Care System
LGBTQ Youth
Youth with a history of sexual or physical abuse
Youth who use/abuse substances

How Victims are Groomed for Sexual Exploitation

Grooming is when the trafficker gains trust before exploiting the victim. Key components to the grooming process include:

The victim is targeted. Traffickers look for victims with existing vulnerabilities such as an unstable home, lack of a support system, etc.

Trafficker gains trust. Traffickers may initiate a romantic relationship or friendship.

Trafficker fills a need. The trafficker will position themselves as a trusted person. They will provide emotional or physical support that has been lacking.

The victim is isolated. The trafficker will encourage alienation of family, friends, and support system. Trafficker may remove the victim from the area either through manipulation or by force.

Abuse begins. The trafficker will expect the victim to “work” to contribute to the “relationship”. Trafficker may use violence in addition to emotional abuse or manipulation.

Trafficker maintains control. The trafficker will establish themselves as the decision maker and control who the victim has contact with and their access to resources.

Warning Signs of Sex Trafficking

When a child is being trafficked, indicators are present that will raise concern. If you suspect a child is being trafficked, contact the local law enforcement agency with jurisdiction or file a report with Child Protective Services.

Commercially Sexually Exploited Children are victims of sexual abuse. If you are a mandated reporter (teacher, medical professional, mental health professional, etc.) and you suspect sex trafficking of a minor, you are required to report your concerns to CPS.

Indicators of sex trafficking may include*:

  • Any person under the age of 18 years engaged in commercial sex regardless of force, fraud, or coercion
  • Age discrepancy between the youth their older “boyfriend/girlfriend”
  • Signs of drug or alcohol use
  • Self-inflicted injuries – cutting
  • Chronic runaway or homeless youth
  • Signs of “branding” – tattoos, specific jewelry, etc.
  • Multiple cell phones or cell phone provided by “boyfriend” that must be answered
  • Inappropriate dress for age, weather, or situation
  • Frequent and/or unexplained absences from school
  • Frequent travel or moving
  • Controlling or abuse “friend/boyfriend/girlfriend” – typically much older 
  • “Boyfriend/Girlfriend” dictates where the victim can and when.
  • Expensive items the youth cannot afford – purses, jewelry, electronics
  • Youth who engage in “survival sex” – feel they must engage in sex for food, housing, or other necessities
  • Photos of the youth have been placed online for advertising purposes
  • Indicates fear of harm to themselves or family if they do not cooperate with “friend/boyfriend/girlfriend”
  • Untreated STIs
  • Sexual knowledge beyond their age/maturity
  • Mental health concerns including PTSD, anxiety, self-destructive behavior, depression, etc.
  • Earnings are “held by” partner or other adult

*Not every example needs to be present to indicate trafficking. If you are concerned, you should report.

What Happens When a Child is Rescued from Sex Trafficking

A child victim of sex trafficking may have endured hundreds or even thousands of sexual assaults and experienced extensive trauma. When a child victim is identified, Child Protective Services will initiate an investigation and be involved in determining the appropriate course of action.

Temporary and permanent housing for the victim will be determined by Child Protective Services. If the child has been arrested for related or unrelated charges, they may be sent to the Youth Detention Facility while awaiting a hearing. Youth may temporarily go to the Children’s Receiving Home while awaiting reunification with their family or placement in a foster home or youth home. Some children will require intensive treatment and may be placed out of the area to ensure the appropriate level of care. The housing option chosen is based on the safety and welfare needs of the child and level of care and intervention needed.

Commercially Sexually Exploited Children in Sacramento County will be as assigned an Anti-trafficking Response Team (ART) Advocate employed by WEAVE. The Advocate will remain constant even if the child’s other caseworkers change due to their dependency status (i.e. caseworkers may change when a child is transferred between the Youth Detention Facility and foster care). The consistency of the Advocate is purposeful to ensure a consistent and trusted adult is available to provide support and advocacy. 

Community Response to Commercially Sexually Exploited Children

A team of dedicated partners is working together to respond to and rescue minor victims of sex trafficking, including:

Law enforcement 
Child Protective Services
Probation
District Attorney’s Office
Public Defender’s Office
Commercially Sexually Exploited Children Court
WEAVE

WEAVE’s Role In Supporting Child Victims of Sex Trafficking

24/7 Crisis Intervention

24/7 Support Line - WEAVE’s Support Line is used by victims to request help and by CPS and law enforcement to request an Advocate to respond to a child at the time of rescue.

Anti-trafficking Response Team (ART) – WEAVE operates the only 24/7 Response Team supporting child victims of sex trafficking in Sacramento County. A WEAVE Advocate will be assigned to the child upon request and the Advocate will remain constant as the child’s situation is stabilized and best course of action determined.

Supportive Services

Trauma Informed Counseling provided by trained MFTs, MSWs, and supervised interns
Legal Assistance and Advocacy
Case Management

 

Services for Adult Victims of Sex Trafficking

24/7 Crisis Intervention

24/7 Support Line - WEAVE’s Support Line is used by victims to request help and access to confidential emergency shelter.

Anti-trafficking Response Team (ART) – WEAVE Advocates are available to respond to adult victims of sex trafficking to provide support, advocacy, and assistance in obtaining additional services including emergency shelter.

Emergency Shelter – In partnership with My Sister’s House, WEAVE provides the only confidential shelter for adult victims of sex trafficking in Sacramento County.

Housing Assistance – WEAVE can provide access to transitional housing for up to 24 months for adult victims of sex trafficking. 

Supportive Services

Trauma Informed Counseling provided by trained MFTs, MSWs, and supervised interns
Legal Assistance and Advocacy
Case Management

Training and Education

Professional Training/Education for medical professionals, law enforcement, faith leaders, therapists, social service agencies, etc.

Community Education for schools, civic clubs, churches, businesses, etc.

Reporting Suspected Sex Trafficking

If you witness suspected trafficking and the victim is in danger, call 9-1-1.

If you see suspected sex trafficking in your neighborhood, near your work, etc., you can report it to the non-emergency number of the local law enforcement jurisdiction. 

Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department - 916.874.5115

Sacramento Police Department – 916.264.5471

Elk Grove Police Department – 916.714.5115

Galt Police Department - 209.366.7000

Citrus Heights Police Department – 916.727.5500

Rancho Cordova Police Department - 916.362.5115

Folsom Police Department - 916.355.7231

National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline - 888.3737.888

If you are a mandated reporter (teacher, medical professional, mental health professional, etc. and you suspect a child is being sex trafficked, you are required to report to Child Protective Services. The 24-hour Child Abuse Hotline is (916) 875-5437/(916) 875-KIDS.

Statistics

  • Women and children who have been trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation experience a significantly higher rate of HIV and other STDs, tuberculosis, and permanent damage to their reproductive systems.
  • Human Trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world, and is the second largest criminal enterprise in the world, after drug smuggling and arms dealing.
  • The average age of a young woman first being trafficked is 12-14 years old.
  • More than 2/3 of sex trafficked children suffer additional abuse at the hands of their traffickers.
  • There are anywhere between 600,000 and 800,000 victims trafficked through international borders every year, which does not include the millions trafficked domestically within their own countries.
  • According to estimates, approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19% involves labor exploitation.
  • Trafficked children are significantly more likely to develop mental health problems, abuse substances, engage in prostitution as adults, and either commit or be victimized by violent crimes later in life.

Statistics and information found at:

National Human Trafficking Resource Center
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Human Trafficking.org