DiscoverThe BTR.ORG Podcast - Betrayal Trauma RecoveryWhat Sex Trafficking Really Looks Like
What Sex Trafficking Really Looks Like

What Sex Trafficking Really Looks Like

Update: 2023-09-12


TW: sexual abuse, sex trafficking, sexual violence.

A husband filming his wife in the shower without her knowledge or consent, and selling the video online.

A boyfriend coercing his seventeen-year-old girlfriend for photos.

A man prostituting his long-time partner, then gaslighting her into feeling guilt and shame so that she feels unable to escape or press charges.

What does sex trafficking really look like?

It's a depraved conglomeration of psychological, emotional, sexual, and physical coercion and abuse. It's the disempowerment of women and children. And it's all around us. Dr. Stephany Powell from NCOSE is on the BTR.ORG podcast; read the full transcript below and listen to this important episode now.

Let's Define Sex Trafficking: Force, Fraud, Coercion

"By age alone, when you're under the age of 18 and someone has used you for commercial sex, you're automatically considered a victim of trafficking in a court of law. If you're over 18 years of age, you have to prove force, fraud, or coercion."

Dr. Stephany Powell

Understanding the "Coercion" Piece of Sex Trafficking

I think what happens oftentimes is that people only think of sex trafficking victims with the force and the fraud - so that coercion piece is a little hard to understand because people go, "Well, why didn't they just leave?" What needs to be understood is that there is an emotional bond that one may have with their trafficker.

That emotional bond may be because their trafficker was a boyfriend or very good friend, or it could have been a girlfriend or it could have been a family member. Not to mention that it's like brainwashing. I'm coercing you because if you leave something bad is going to happen to somebody you love. And by the way, this is your fault anyway because you chose to do this.

Dr. Stephany Powell

Coercion can include:

* Threats (subtle or overt)

* Gaslighting

* Blame-shifting

* Manipulation

* Emotional withholding

* Financial abuse

* Spiritual abuse

* Sexual blackmail

* Abusive persistence

The Most Important Take-Away

"If you've experienced sexual coercion and exploitation - whether or not it has resulted in sex trafficking - please know that it is NOT your fault.

What I really want to express to those women today is really understanding that it's not your fault. You've been exploited.

It wasn't something that you shared in and said it was okay; someone took advantage of you, and the really worst part, it was somebody that you trusted. And so when it's somebody that you trusted that used you in that way, honestly, it is no different than a victim of sex trafficking that's dealing with a trafficker or a pimp. Because lots of times, it was their boyfriend that ended up pimping them out or they got talked into it because it was showing "love". The bottom line is it could really make one feel worthless: I shouldn't have done that, I should have known.

And what I want to say to you is, you did what you were supposed to do. You trusted the person that was the closest to you; you were a wife, and so therefore this is no fault of your own. It is something that they did, meaning the husband, that shouldn't have been done. So don't beat yourself up over it. Try not to."

Dr. Stephany Powell

BTR.ORG Is Here For You

NCOSE is an incredible resource for victims of sexual exploitation. Here at BTR.ORG, we are available to help you process your trauma and begin your healing journey - attend a Group Session today.

Full Transcript:

Anne (00:00 ):

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What Sex Trafficking Really Looks Like

What Sex Trafficking Really Looks Like

Anne Blythe