Call or Text Us at 866-272-5209

What is sex trafficking, really?

Check what you know about facts and fables

Sex trafficking may not be what you think. Many myths and misconceptions surround the arena of a place most of us will never know. But we can all seek to understand and be aware of how to detect and intervene in a situation of exploitation. The following questionnaire is not recorded or visable to anyone and is a simple tool to increase the awareness of facts over fables to the general public. See how many fables you can dispel with the Fact or Fable quiz.


#1. It’s estimated that more than 100,000 domestic children in the US are being trafficked every year.


Source: Shared Hope International

#2. Most victims/survivors have no idea they are being “trafficked” and do not know there is a Human Trafficking Hotline or help for them.


#3. For minors in the US <18, any sex act exchanged for anything of value is considered sex trafficking.

FACT. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act defines sex trafficking.

Check out the TVPA at

For a victim over the age of 18, force, fraud, or coercion constitutes sex trafficking.

#4. A victim/survivor has to be transported between states or countries in order for an action to be considered sex trafficking.

No transportation has to take place for a situation to be considered sex trafficking. Sex trafficking occurs when any person under the age of 18 exchanges a sex act for anything of value. For a person over the age of 18, force, fraud, or coercion constitutes trafficking.

For more information on the TVPA (Trafficking Victims Protection Act) visit Human Trafficking Hotline online.

#5. The average age a child enters sex trafficking is age 15 years of age.

The most prominent age a victim enters the “life” of sex trafficking is age 15.

The median age is 12-14 years of age.

Source: Thorn

#6. Nearly 30% of survivors have been abused as a child.

One study found that 85% of sex trafficking survivors had been abused as children.

Source: World Without Exploitation

#7. Prostitution and sex trafficking are the same thing.

Trafficking and prostitution are not the same thing. Individuals in the sex trade industry often appear to be willing participants in their exploitation, however that is not the case. The manipulation and coercion involved in “grooming” (preparing a victim for exploitation) often includes emotional bonds which make the victim feel as if they are choosing thier exploitation out of attachment to their trafficker.

Prostitution consitutes only a minimal amount of cases where an individual chooses to participate in the sex trade industry, of own free will, above the age of 18, without force, fraud, or coercion. Very few cases constitute prostitution and many who engage in sex work in this manner have been previously trafficked.



#8. Pornography plays a vital role as the fuel for the sex trafficking by creating the demand for commercial sex.

#9. The top recruitment tactic used by traffickers to detain a victim in sex trafficking is kidnapping.

Sex trafficking victims are most often lured into a sex trafficking situation through some type of an intimate partnership/marriage proposal. Source: Polaris Project

One of the largest myths surrounding sex trafficking is that victims are kidnapped and restrained in order to be utilized in the sex trade industry. Although this can occur, it is NOT normally the case.

Traffickers seek to create emotional bonds with victims or a sense of fear, in order to ensure the victim’s compliance to be bought and sold for sex.

#10. 75% of sex trafficking victims are controlled by a “pimp” (trafficker).


Source: American Journal of Public Health, Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, 1999.

#11. There are more labor trafficking instances in America than commercial sex trafficking.

Most studies have shown that sex trafficking is much more often the form of trafficking in the US than labor trafficking. Polaris Project states that in 2016, sex trafficking accounted for 73% of all trafficking cases. However all trafficking is an injustice to humans and considered modern day slavery.

Source: Polaris Project

#12. One of the most prominent method of retaining (keeping) a victim in a trafficking situation is through emotional abuse.

FACT: Polaris Project states that isolation, emotional abuse, economic abuse, threats, and physical abuse are the top five methods of force, fraud, and coercion to retain a victim in a trafficking situation.

Source: Polaris Project


Resources for FACTS in our “Check What You Know” Quiz

Shared Hope International @

Thorn @

World Without Exploitation @

Abolitionist Mom @ – American Journal of Public Health, “Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico,” Full Report, Estes and Weiner, op. cit, n. 4 page 131.

Polaris Project @