An estimated 25 million
including over 300,000 in Texas –
are victims of human trafficking.
Human trafficking consists of sex and labor trafficking. Sex trafficking is legally defined as a commercial sex act:
- with a minor, or
- by means of force, fraud, or coercion with an adult.6
Traffickers (or “pimps”) manipulate and abuse victims by exploiting vulnerabilities – ranging from a history of abuse, poverty, and foster care to simply wanting to fit in. They may use recruitment tactics like posing as a boyfriend, offering career opportunities, and threatening violence, or blackmail.
Because of this, many victims are first trafficked when they are still a teenager and as a result, there are an estimated 80,0002 youth victims of sex trafficking in Texas.
Human trafficking is the fastest-growing organized crime activity in the United States, making almost $150 billion4 a year.
Sex trafficking wouldn’t exist without buyers, who ultimately fuel the demand. The anti-trafficking movement is a collaborative effort to address victims, traffickers, and buyers.
Victims rarely self-identify because of psychological coercion from their trafficker reinforces shame, isolation, intense trauma bonds, and a fear of retaliation. Due to misconceptions about victimization, victims of sex trafficking may also face social stigma or risk criminalization for crimes committed against them. In addition to this, many victims don’t even realize they’re being trafficked. Therefore, making it difficult to connect them with the help they may need.