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Sex Trafficking in the U.S.: A Closer Look at U.S. Citizen Victims

Sex Trafficking in the U.S.: A Closer Look at U.S. Citizen Victims provides crucial insight into the realities of sex trafficking in the U.S. based largely on experiences reported by U.S. citizen survivors. The issue brief highlights key aspects of the U.S. sex trafficking industry, including how U.S. citizen victims are recruited and controlled, the relationships between victims and traffickers, common venues where sex trafficking occurs, and survivors’ level of access to opportunities for assistance.

The brief, based on information reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center* (NHTRC) and Polaris’s BeFree Textline in 2014, illustrates the variety of situations that victims face in rural, suburban, and urban communities across the country.

The information contained in the brief is based on data collected from 1,611 sex trafficking cases reported to the NHTRC hotline and the BeFree Textline in 2014 involving U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, as well as a deeper analysis of 292 survivor accounts who directly contacted the NHTRC or BeFree. This information was supplemented with data from 141 U.S. citizen sex trafficking survivors who received direct services from Polaris between 2011 and 2014.

By amplifying the voices of these survivors, we are taking steps to better understand the variety of ways traffickers operate and the comprehensive services victims require to rebuild their lives.

Note: The report is not a systematic review, as survivors were not routinely asked a set of standardized questions. The data is not intended to represent the full scope of sex trafficking in the U.S. To protect the privacy and anonymity of individuals contacting the NHTRC and BeFree Textline, Polaris follows strict data confidentiality protocols and does not disclose personally identifying information. All data in public reports is shared in aggregate.

*The NHTRC is now the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline.

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Need help? Polaris operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline.