Get Help

Sex Trafficking

What Is Human Trafficking?

Sex Trafficking (Street-Based)Sex trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which individuals perform commercial sex through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Minors under the age of 18 engaging in commercial sex are considered to be human trafficking, regardless of the use of force, fraud, or coercion.

Sex traffickers frequently target victims and then use violence, threats, lies, false promises, debt bondage, or other forms of control and manipulation to keep victims involved in the sex industry for their own profit. 

Sex trafficking exists within diverse and unique sets of venues and business including fake massage businesses, escort services, residential brothels, in public on city streets and in truck stops, strip clubs, hostess clubs, hotels and motels, and elsewhere. 

In the United States, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines sex trafficking as:  “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the 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” (22 USC § 7102). The term “commercial sex act” is defined as any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person (22 U.S.C. 7102). See the Federal Laws page for more detailed definitions.

Action-Means-Purpose Model

Sex trafficking may be distinguished from other forms of commercial sex by applying the Action + Means + Purpose Model. Human trafficking occurs when a trafficker takes any one of the enumerated actions, and then employs the means of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of compelling the victim to provide commercial sex acts. At a minimum, one element from each column must be present to establish a potential situation of sex trafficking. The presence of force, fraud or coercion indicates that the victim has not consented of his or her own free will. In addition, minors under the age of 18 engaging in commercial sex are considered to be human trafficking, regardless of the use of force, fraud or coercion.  

Demand For Sex Trafficking: What You Need To Know

In cases of sex trafficking, individuals who buy commercial sex provide the demand and profit incentive for traffickers. Many buyers of commercial sex are unaware, ill-informed, or in denial of the abusive realities of commercial sex. When sex trafficking is present, victims are often subjected to violence, threats, controlling behaviors, false promises, lies, and manipulation perpetrated by their traffickers.

The following information on labor trafficking cases is based solely on information learned through the substantive, US-based signals -- or phone calls, emails, and online tip reports -- received on the NHTRC hotline as of June 30, 2014.

Since 2007
Total Cases: 10,755
Total Victims - Moderate: 9,027
Cases categorized as “High” contain a high level of indicators of human trafficking. Cases coded as “Moderate” contain several indicators of human trafficking, or resemble common trafficking scenarios but lack core details of force, fraud, or coercion.
Total Victims - High: 8,397
Health Consequences of Sex Trafficking

The Health Consequences of Sex Trafficking and their Implications for Identifying Victims in Healthcare Facilities

Loyola Unversity Beasly School of Law

A paper examining the health consequences of sex trafficking, based on a prior study of over one hundred domestic sex trafficking victims and survivors.

Read More

Blueprint: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Domestic Sex Trafficking of Girls

Center on Poverty and Inequality at Georgetown Law School

A report on the multisystem approach needed to identify and assess survivors’ needs and evaluating three community models of collaborative approaches.

Read More
Gang Involved Sex Trafficking

Gang-Involved Sex Trafficking

National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC)

Watch this online training to learn how gangs are trafficking women and girls for sex.

Read More

3 Key Challenges in Combatting the Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States

Center for American Progress

A report evaluating critical challenges in addressing domestic minor sex trafficking in the United States.

Read More