While human trafficking happens in many different ways, there are some popular ideas about what trafficking is that aren’t based in reality and can actually cause harm to people being trafficked, because these myths help traffickers continue to operate in plain sight.
For instance, it’s important to know that most of the time, trafficking isn’t the result of stranger danger. Most people who are trafficked have a relationship with the person who trafficks them. This is true even with children who are trafficked.
Right now, most women and girls are meeting their traffickers online. They are groomed by the trafficker until he is successfully able to manipulate her. Also, men and boys can be trafficked as well. Anyone who is vulnerable for any reason is at risk of being targeted by sex traffickers.
Another myth is that trafficking only happens in “other” countries or on the dark web. The truth is that trafficking happens all around us in plain sight. 150,000 ads for escorts are posted every day. Most buyers of sex make over $100,000 and aren’t dirty men from the street. These are CEOs and community leaders who go home at night to their families. They may have daughters the same age as the trafficked girls they purchase sex with from the trafficker.
In the real world where not everyone is a true crime fan, people don’t use the phrase “human trafficking”. I once accepted an invitation to a party from a guy I didn’t know well because I was pressuring myself to be more social. At the party this guy and one of his friends discussed how they had literally human trafficked girls in the past and laughed about it in front of everyone. What they were actually discussing is this rich guy they used to know. They would bring him girls and give the girls alcohol and weed so they would have sex with the rich guy. The rich guy would pay the guys money and then they would bring the girl home, unbeknownst to her that this was a set up involving money at all. I left the party and blocked them.
Later, on Tinder, I was talking to a different guy who loved to travel. He told me about the girls he met at foreign clubs who had sex with him for money. I asked him if these girls had been trafficked. He’d never heard of the term. He had no idea there was any cause to be concerned about a woman selling him sex. He was angry I implied he’d done something nefarious. I blocked him too, and deleted the app.
IDK if I am on glue and have “high standards” but these things seem really really bad!!!
And here’s the thing, I had the ability to walk away from those men. It is very easy for me to imagine a situation in which I wouldn’t be able to do that because I was trauma bonded to the person who was talking like this, or because they were financially or physically abusing me, or because they were threatening my children in order to control me. These situations are easy for me to point out as being dangerous because I was in a good position to see the danger and leave when I saw it. That’s not even always the situation for me as an older middle class white woman, so I can see how easily vulnerable people can be controlled by someone willing to manipulate them.
Yesterday in Texas, a woman who survived being trafficked is suing Motel 6 for negligence as she was allowed to be trafficked in the hotel in plain sight of the staff. The woman identified as “Jane Doe A.A.” says she was held at a Houston Motel 6 and repeatedly “beaten, raped, and drugged by an average of 10 men per day”. One of those men was the hotel manager.
Jane Doe escaped when she managed to get help from a police officer at a gas station. After going to an in-patient drug addiction treatment program and an in-patient trafficking recovery program, she is now back to living at home with her parents. Five other trafficking victims have joined her lawsuit against Motel 6.
The man who trafficked Jane Doe was the older brother of one of her friends from school. He groomed her and then drugged her at a party, stole her phone and identification, and brought her to a motel to begin trafficking her. She was held against her will for months before she was able to escape.
The lawsuit argues “Countless tales of tragedy establish the entrenched, pervasive nature and knowledge of Motel 6’s role as the venue for sex trafficking across the United States for years… As sex trafficking has grown to epidemic proportions, it has become widely recognized that we must look beyond just the pimp and sex buyer to stop sex trafficking. We must look to the other individual and entities who facilitate and benefit from sex trafficking.”