Olivia B.

October 2, 2020


Imagine waking up one day and your whole world has taken a complete turn for the worst. You are now being held against your will, beaten into submission, raped repeatedly and then prostituted night after night.

This dehumanizing offense is Human Trafficking for sexual exploitation. Let’s start by addressing what Human Trafficking actually is and the various categories of Trafficking. Human Trafficking is "the action or practice of illegally transporting individuals from one country or area to another. Typically for the purpose of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation." Human Trafficking is modern day slavery and every year millions of women, men and children are kidnapped or lured into this exploitative billion-dollar criminal industry.

How many times have you or someone you known, ignored, disabled or silenced Amber Alerts? Many individuals in today’s society outlook are “If it doesn’t directly affect my life why should I care.” Jane Elliot once said during her social experiment “You know what’s happening, you know you don’t want it for you. I want to know why you are so willing to accept it happening to others”. Often times on social media we all see viral posts circulating about an attempted trafficking situation. We tend to get heavily engaged and then drop the topic and move on to the next big social justice timeline feature. I challenge you to keep that initial call to action energy, and truly become more actively engaged on the topic.

Human trafficking has many layers and is a very complex topic. Let us begin with the various types of Human Trafficking that exist today. The major forms of Trafficking include Bonded Labor, Debt Bondage, Involuntary Servitude among migrant laborers, Children Soldiers, and Sex Commercial Exploitation. The type of Trafficking I am going to explore in detail is Trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Let me be very clear sexual exploitation trafficking can happen and does affect everyone. Individuals that are the most vulnerable to this specific type of Trafficking are runaways, women, young girls, and women of color. Traffickers prey on societies’ most vulnerable individuals. This specific category of trafficking is extremely lucrative and has no boundaries. It has been estimated to be a 24.9 billion dollar criminal industry.

The number of current trafficked victims in the U.S. and througout the world is largely unknown. It is approximated that 100,000 plus individuals in the United States are sexually exploited, for commercial gain every year. The top cities reported for Human Trafficking within the United States includes Orlando, Miami Florida; Baltimore Maryland; New York; Chicago Illinois; Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego California, Dallas, Houston Texas, Las Vegas Nevada; Columbus Ohio; Atlanta Georgia and Washington D.C.

So you might be wondering, how does one get trafficked? There are a variety of methods in which predators prey on their victims.

The first well-known method is kidnapping. Victims are usually followed from an establishment, while walking alone or with a friend. The victim is then stalked and then ambushed. Predators even have been known to go as far, to purposely crash there vehicle into their targeted victims automobile; forcing them to stop.

The second method I would classify as deceptive opportunities. Victims are baited and then invited to participate in false advertised jobs interviews or social events.

The third method is a form of manipulative kidnapping. The exploiter preys on young girls looking for a romantic relationship. The girls are then seduced and persuaded to run away with the supposed lover. Once they have run away; they are then sold or handed over against their will to a pimp. The girl is then beaten and "Broken In". The phrase “Broken In” refers to pimps repeatedly molesting, beating and sometimes drugging the victim into submission. Once "Broken In" they are then forced into prostitution.

This last method is similar to the third, but the victim has chosen to run away without persuasion. Often times, children run away from home due to various circumstances. The child is then lead into prostitution under the control of a pimp for protection and shelter. These are just a few examples of many.

Human Trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation has been addressed in films and documentaries. Due to this exposure the long needed dialogue, this topic has finally gotten a seat at the table. There are several organizations and individuals working to end and promote awareness on human trafficking. The most prominent group working on this issue in the United States is the Polaris Project. The Polaris Project "takes a comprehensive approach to end modern day slavery. The organization advocates for stronger Federal and State Laws. This organization operates the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline. It provides services and support for Trafficking victims and also works with survivors to develop a long term strategy to end Human trafficking" (TheMuse.com, The Fight for Freedom: 7 Organizations Combatting Human Trafficking)

WONDERFUL you are still here!

I know this has been a lot of information to digest, but I urge you to get involved; even if you don’t think this directly affects you. I once read a poem by the late Tupac Shakur and he made a statement that has always stuck with me. In his poem I Cry he wrote, "The world moves fast and it would rather pass by; then to stop and see what makes one cry." I understand we are all trying to make something of ourselves and have enough burdens already. Although sometimes it feels like it; compassion consideration and attentiveness is not a limited emotional resource. Please do not let this topic be something you put down and ignore.

Get involved through actively researching, spreading awareness, aiding in campaigns and policy changes, volunteer your time with nonprofits that advocate for the end of Human Trafficking

Always remember these are individuals that have dreams, feelings, goals, and deserve so much more. Help where you can and do not turn a blind eye.

"Our Lives Begin To End The Day We Become Silent About Things That Matter"
- Martin Luther King Jr

National Human Trafficking Hotline:
Call 1 (888) 373 - 7888 to report tips or ask for help

Checkout The Sources :

Olivia Benjamin received dual Bachelor of Science Degrees from the College of Engineering in Computer Science and the College of Criminal and Juvenile Justice in Criminal Justice from the illustrious Prairie View A&M University. Upon graduation she went on to become a Software Developer/ Engineer. Olivia became interested in art at the age of 13 and later picked back up the discipline more in her adulthood. She continues to refine her artist skills and has future plans of launching an art website, Expression of Freedom, to share and sale her art work.