Recently, I had an encounter that made me much more aware of the horrors surrounding sex trafficking that more women need to be aware of. It feels as though young women are not entirely aware of the dangers that come with being just that, a woman. For sex traffickers, sometimes there is no other reason why they’d go after you other than your sex and that you’re seen as vulnerable. In my case, I was not even alone and was still at high risk of being in danger because I wasn’t as aware as I should have been.
It is estimated that about 15,000 to 50,000 women are forced in sex slavery or trafficking every year in the United States, but rates may be higher because so many of these cases are unreported. This statistic is scary to think about, and one that we, as women, need to be aware of, and it feels like we aren’t. We go out alone at night, we look at our phones while we walk to our cars, we walk around campus alone at night and it’s not as safe out there as you think it is.
There are so many other ways that we can be coerced into sex slavery. The internet is another way that women are prone to being forced into trafficking. It happens a lot more than you’d think it does online. A statistic shows that 40% of sex trafficking victims are recruited online, whether this be on Facebook, a messaging app, etc. Many victims think they are talking to someone they can trust, but more often than not, they’re a part of this ever growing industry. We need to be aware and careful of who we encounter and talk to online, especially if they are a stranger.
Places that women need to be alert in are hotels, motels, truck stops, sporting events and massage parlors, as these are places where pimp-controlled women and girls are most often found. What is also important to be aware of is the tactics that sex traffickers use to get their victims. During my experience last weekend, someone had slipped something in the driver’s side door handle of my car, and not realizing, I had moved the item to get it away so I could open my door, and it had a numbing agent on it, as I then started to feel the effects quickly after.
Some of the tactics that sex traffickers will use have to do with your car. They may stick something in your door handle the way they possibly could have to mine, they could put something underneath your car so you will move it so you can drive away, or they may put something in your window so you’ll get out of your car to move it away, and this is where they are likely to traffick you. They may also be someone you know and may shower you in compliments to get you to trust them. They may offer to help you run away or will offer you drugs or any other help you may need. There are so many different tactics that these traffickers use in order to lure in their victims. This chart helps show other ways in which you may be involved in sex trafficking without realizing it.
All this information may seem scary, but these are factual, real tactics and ways a sex trafficker could lure you or someone you love in. This is why, as women, it’s a good idea to never walk alone when you feel someone may be following you, or if you sense you may be in danger. If you think someone is following you, do not go home, go straight to the police. Especially late at night, we women should always either be on the phone with someone we trust, or have someone with us. If that’s not possible, it is a good idea to carry pepper spray or some form of weapon that you can use in case of an emergency. Campus police are always available if you feel as though you’re in danger and on the RIC campus, we have areas where you can call for help if need be.
As women, we need to trust our instincts. I know that for me personally, if I hadn’t had a few friends with me when I felt in danger last weekend, I’m not sure I would be writing this piece. This link also provides signs you may notice in someone who could be trafficked.
Call 911 if you feel as though you or a loved one is in danger, or call the National Human trafficking hotline at 1-800-373-7888. You can also call campus security at 401-456-8888