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Sex Trafficking

For help call our hotline at (800) 688-6157.
Our advocates are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Your call is confidential. 

The Problem of Sex Trafficking

The sex trafficking industry is fueled by buyers who pay traffickers to supply victims to meet their demand. Men, women, and children from a wide variety of backgrounds are victimized through sex trafficking. 

Vulnerability factors that make individuals more susceptible to trafficking include low self-esteem, being abused or neglected, poverty, homelessness, being in the foster care system, and identifying as LGBT. 

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Sex Trafficking is a booming industry. It thrives because there's serious demand. Traffickers use fear, violence, intimidation, and threats to meet this demand.  

- Shared Hope International:

The Scope of the Problem
Sex Trafficking

Trafficking Victims Protection Act

Persons under age 18 who perform a commercial sex act are considered under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act to be victims of human trafficking, regardless of whether force, fraud or coercion was present


Sex trafficking occurs when someone uses force, fraud, or coercion to cause a commercial sex act with an adult or causes a minor to commit a commercial sex act. 

What is a Commercial Sex Act?

A commercial sex act includes prostitution, pornography, and sexual performance done in exchange for any item of value, such as money, drugs, shelter, food, or clothes.  

Traffickers Find Their Victims Through:  

  • Social Media or Network 

  • Neighborhood

  • Clubs or Bars 

  • Internet 

  • School

The Demand Pipeline 

The Buyer fuels the market with their money. 

The trafficker or pimp exploits the victim to earn revenue from the buyers.

The victim includes girls and boys who are bought and sold for profit. 

The Victims

Traffickers use fear, violence, intimidation, and threats to meet the demand of buyers. The common age a child enters sex trafficking is 14-16. Often they are too young or naive to even know what's happening.  

Sex Trafficking and 
its Prevalence


Trafficking is built on the economic principle of supply and demand. Buyers who are willing to pay for commercial sex acts make the market profitable.

- Shared Hope International:

There are millions of victims worldwide. 

According to a report by Business Insider in 2019, in the United States, there is no official number of human trafficking victims, but estimates place it in the hundreds of thousands. 

According to the same report, more than 300,000 young people in the United States are considered "at-risk" of sexual exploitation. 

​​​Source Data: West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services |

Traffickers leverage barriers to keep victims from leaving. 

There are many barriers that victims of sex trafficking face. Getting away from their traffickers often pose real physical safety threats. 

Victims may view traffickers as their only family, have limited options for economic survival, are isolated from others, or lack familiarity with the area where they are living.


Victims face significant challenges in escaping trafficking, seeking help, and accessing services. Additional barriers may arise at the community level when responders are not fully prepared to help trafficking victims.

​​​Source Data:

Key Indicators of 
Sex Trafficking

For trafficking victims who come into contact with rape crisis center advocates and other allied professionals but who don’t self-identify as victims, recognizing key indicators of human trafficking is the first step in identifying these individuals as trafficking victims and offering them targeted resources to meet their specific needs.

Source: West Virginia Foundation of Rape Information and Services |

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Are you or someone you love a victim of sex trafficking? We are here for you!
Call our hotline, (800) 688-6157.
 Our advocates are available 24 hours a day, 
7 days a week. 
Your call is confidential. 
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