Sex Trafficking in America Tragically Increased by Opioid Crisis
Did you know that trafficking of women and children in sexual exploitation is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world? Sex trafficking in America is part of a very real global issue destroying millions of lives and families every year.
The opioid crisis still plagues the nation, and authorities are seeing a tangible connection to sex trafficking in our country today. Sex trafficking in America is a deplorable enterprise that is actually second only to drug trafficking as the most lucrative form of transactional crime. In fact, these two illegal industries actually feed off of one another in a sickly and vicious cycle claiming more lives every year.
One of the oldest criminal undertakings in America is that of prostitution and human trafficking. This explicit form of modern-day slavery is used in order to obtain some form of labor or commercial sex. Sadly fraud and coercion are commonplace; more horrifically there is the use of force and captivity. This abhorrent underground industry generates billions of dollars of profit annually by essentially trying dehumanize the vulnerable and defenseless who become emotional, mental or literal prisoners.
Shocking Statistics of Sex Trafficking
One of the most heart-wrenching and appalling realities is how wide-spread sex trafficking truly is, despite the fact it is outlawed in over 134 countries. This is one of the utmost injustices to ever affect so many people, and it is an absolute tragedy that it is still happening.
According to experts, more comprehensive research is still needed, but from what research has been done it is reported:
At least 20.9 million adults and children are bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude, forced labor, and bonded labor.
About 2 million children are exploited every year in the commercial sex trade across the world.
Almost 6 out of 10 trafficking survivors were used for sexual exploitation
Women and girls make up 98% of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.
Since 2007, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has received reports of over 31,600 cases of sex trafficking in America, and those are just the cases that are reported.
2016- National Center for Missing & Exploited Children estimated 1 out of every 6 endangered runaways were likely sex trafficking victims
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, the top 5 states for reported human trafficking cases in America are:
- California- 705 cases in 2017
- Texas- 433 cases in 2017
- Florida- 329 cases in 2017
- Ohio- 191 cases in 2017
- New York- 180 cases in 2017
Sex trafficking in America may not seem as prominent when people try to compare us to some foreign country, but the numbers do not lie.
The Victims of Sex Trafficking in America
The victims of human and sex trafficking rarely come forward to seek help, and there are many reasons behind that, such as:
- Language barriers
- Fear of traffickers
- Even fear of law enforcement
Often times the intensity of the trauma the victims of sex trafficking in America endure is enough to make them too afraid to identify themselves as victims, even with their own families and loved ones, and ask for help.
Those who deal in sexual exploitation of human beings often prey on individuals who are vulnerable. These reasons for someone being susceptible vary, including:
- Lack of social support
- Psychological vulnerability
- Emotional vulnerability
- Economic hardship
- Victims of natural disasters
- Political instability
This happens everywhere; in populated cities, suburban communities and rural areas across the country there are traffickers taking advantage of populations damaged by addiction.
Traffickers often use drugs to coerce women to engage in prostitution, and in the midst of the opioid crisis authorities in many states say the practice is expanding.
The increase in sex trafficking in America in its connection to addiction is even changing the way law enforcement agencies look at prostitution. What it has taught many is that the act of selling sex is often not voluntary for many prostitutes. Now law enforcement agencies are actively approaching women involved in prostitution cases as victims more than criminals.
With more compassion in cases where law enforcement is involved, hopefully, more women will be willing to come forward and seek help.
Exploiting the Opioid Crisis
Drug addicts represent the ideal victims for human and sex traffickers. The modern-day slave-trader will deliberately hunt those struggling with drug addiction because addicts often struggle with:
See how those line-up with the reasons traffickers exploit their victims? Yea, it looks familiar right.
According to a survey conducted by the Center for Problem-Orientated Policing, more than 70% of Sex workers over 25 have taken:
Sex workers at 16 to 19 years of age, over 70% of them have experienced cannabis, cocaine, and crack cocaine
Another study of street prostitution documented:
- Between 40% and 85% of all prostitutes are drug users
- 55% of the subjects reported being addicted prior to their prostitution involvement
- 30% became addicted following
- 15% simultaneously with their involvement with prostitution
As the opioid crisis has become more and more prevalent over the years, sex trafficking in America has been influenced in a major way. Examples of stories connecting the two are:
- Traffickers arrested on charges of trafficking in persons for sexual servitude after allegedly supplying women with the powerful opioid fentanyl in exchange for commercial sexual activity.
- Sex traffickers parking outside methadone clinics and luring women with promises of drugs, food, and housing to hotels, then locking them up and forcing them into sexual acts with customers.
- People selling other people into sexual servitude for drugs.
Essentially, drugs have become a short-cut to recruiting women into the sex trade. What drug traffickers have also begun to realize is while they can only sell a drug once, they can sell the same woman, or child, over and over.
Helping Change the Stats
Some victims may even eventually try to escape. But often times- when the withdrawals are so intense after extended use- they will go back to sex trafficking and even captivity in order to avoid the pain and sickness of going without drugs. This is why for so many victims of sex trafficking and addiction the opportunity for safe medical detox and inpatient treatment resources are so crucial.
Many victims of sex trafficking in America also suffer from many mental health disorders as a result of such inhumane exploitation, such as:
So having a dual diagnosis option is also a huge element to helping those who are trying to escape addiction and sex trafficking. Holistic treatment options help to address every aspect of the individual’s afflictions and adversities in order to help them build a more complete foundation for a better, more fulfilled life.
Every chance that any of us have to help cripple this contemptible industry should be a priority because that means helping millions, especially women and children, escape a life of indescribable desperation and trauma. We as a society should approach the issue of sex trafficking with compassion and effective support for the victims, while simultaneously fighting the ongoing opioid crisis.
The Orchid Recovery Center is a drug and alcohol treatment program with specially designed to cater to the specific needs of women suffering from addiction and unresolved trauma. Our women-only facility heals lives by addressing the unique and particular issues women face while overcoming drug and alcohol addiction. With victims of intense trauma, the Orchid Recovery Center works to nurture an emotional and empowering recovery.