Faces of Human Trafficking Video 2: An Introduction to Sex Trafficking
This video provides an overview of sex trafficking. It features survivors and professionals—including law enforcement, judges, and social service, legal, and health care providers—who share information on victim indicators, ways victims are often identified, how professionals may come into contact with victims of sex trafficking, and industries where sex trafficking is more common.
Faces of Human Trafficking: An Introduction to Sex Trafficking TRANSCRIPT
Amy, Survivor Advocate: The world of a trafficking victim is constant fear, constant dehumanization, just feeling like you are not even a person anymore. I experienced sex trafficking. I was a single mom trying to finish college, and that was what eventually led me to an adult club. It wasn’t something I was comfortable with, but, feeling pretty desperate, I thought, "Let me just try it, see what happens." The second night was when I met my trafficker. He was giving me what I thought was a legitimate job offer. You know, he said, "Let’s go over to my business." But once I got in there, I was held against my will, and that was the process of beatings and rapes by multiple subjects, and held in there for over 12 hours. And because that process was methodical and designed to break me down, I was very much like a robot. I was going to do what he told me to do. It wasn’t so much that nobody noticed; it was they didn’t know what to look for or what to call it. Sex trafficking is the action of a perpetrator recruiting, transporting, maintaining, harboring through force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of exploitation.
Keith Bickford, Detective, Multnomah Sheriff’s Office, Oregon: Law enforcement can be very proactive when it comes to combating sex trafficking, especially if you know where to look.
James Fitzgerald, Lieutenant, Seattle Police Department: If you go on the Internet, street-level prostitution, massage parlors, that’s the most easily identifiable. That doesn’t mean that all those individuals are victims of human trafficking, but it’s an easy place to start.
Amy: I came in contact with a lot of law enforcement officials, and they just weren’t trained. Some of them were well-intentioned. What you’re really going to want to look at is other signs that indicate exploitation. I saw this in shelters; medical doctors as well ER—physicians. That’s why training is so important.
James Fitzgerald: One of our goals, then, is to try to find new, innovative ways of identifying victims, letting them know that there are people in law enforcement, human service providers, and the courts that would like to help them.
Kate Mogulescu, Supervising Attorney, Legal Aid Society of New York City: As a public defender, I started to look more critically at our representation of people charged with prostitution offenses. These clients weren’t identifying themselves as victims of trafficking, but many of them had been completely controlled and scripted by the force, fraud, and coercion that we understand to make up human trafficking. We had to do better in trying to address these clients’ needs so that people who may be in very dangerous, abusive, violent situations don’t have to continue in those situations, and that an arrest make their life worse.
Bailiff: Honorable Judge Theresa Pouley is now presiding.
James Fitzgerald: The idea here is not to prosecute the potential sex trafficking victims.
Hon. Theresa Pouley, Chief Judge, Tulalip Tribal Court, Washington State: That happens a lot. A person is convicted of crimes and then are eliminated from all the services that could actually help them escape the trafficking.
Alfred Tribble, FBI Special Agent, Houston, Texas: You don’t have to show any force, fraud, or coercion if they’re a minor. You’ve got to be very, very astute in establishing the age, because what is difficult in a lot of jurisdictions, the trafficking statutes may have a different age and consider the child as adult.
Keith Bickford: The gangs are heavily involved in sex trafficking and running girls and boys. We need to start talking more about the problem. Schools can help with that—youth groups, counselors, the teachers, the janitors, the school security—giving them a list of red flags of what to look for.
Melinda Giovengo, Executive Director, YouthCare, Seattle, Washington: Providers out there often miss the cues: young people who describe boyfriends significantly older, young people who have bruises and cigarette burns.
Sharon Cooper, M.D., CEO, Developmental & Forensic Pediatrics: Many times, offenders will brand victims. It’s a sign of ownership on their part, particularly if the tattoos are near the face and neck.
Melinda Giovengo: People who show up with a lot of cash that nobody knows where they’re getting it from or very expensive items.
Hon. Theresa Pouley: In a courtroom setting, you can see when somebody is exerting improper power or control over a person by their demeanor, by where they sit, by how they try to get to talk to a client. Just watching for those sorts of things probably is the way we identify it most often.
Marq: If we’re recognizing signs, we’re able to do something about it. My trafficking was for almost 8 years. He was a close friend of the family. The words were used: "If you tell, I’ll cut you. I’ll bust you in your head. I’ll bust you in your nose." Being a male and being sex trafficked, when you go to a person and say, "Hey, so-and-so is doing this to me,"—"Oh, we don’t believe you. Stop lying." We’re the victims. We need people to believe who the victims really are.
Sharon Cooper, M.D.: Health care providers need to become sensitized to the whole issue of sex trafficking victimization.
Melinda Giovengo: Women who come in with multiple STDs, multiple unwanted pregnancies.
Sharon Cooper, M.D.: If they’re brought into an emergency room setting, the injuries may be the fairly classic intimate partner violence injuries. As a health care provider, if you fail to identify and recognize this type of patient, you may very well fail to have saved their life.
Melinda Giovengo: The best way to get people in is to be available, to make sure that they know and that you are over-providing them with resources. "Here’s my card, and if you need something, just call anytime, day or night, and we’ll make sure we can get you some help."
Teen: I’m good. How are you?
Melinda Giovengo: You can create a robust approach that allows an individual to be addressed from all dimensions. Help them deal with their legal situations. Help them find safe places to live and get the kind of therapy that they need to move forward.
Amy: Having the resources available, allowing the victim to choose but giving her support to do so, is important.
Melinda Giovengo: Coming together, we can help foster their recovery from the kind of traumatic events that they have suffered.
Opinions or points of view expressed in these recordings represent those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. Any commercial products and manufacturers discussed in these recordings are presented for informational purposes only and do not constitute product approval or endorsement by the U.S. Department of Justice.