Myth: Sex trafficking requires travel, transportation, or movement across borders.

Reality: Sex trafficking does not require transportation and can even happen within homes.

The very word “trafficking” makes us think of transportation. However, this association can prevent us from identifying and helping victims. When we associate trafficking with transportation, we are usually thinking of human smuggling. Human smuggling is defined as the transportation of an individual from one destination to another (i.e. across a border), usually with his or her consent. On the other hand, human trafficking is modern day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. So, while human trafficking can involve transportation or movement, it is not a required element.

In fact, the most common recruiting methods that pimps use don’t require transportation at all. For example, at least 31% of victims are groomed through the “boyfriend method.” This tactic is simple, yet incredibly effective. The pimp plays a romantic role to earn a girl’s trust and affection. Once he does this, the pimp can easily manipulate her into sexual exploitation, often disguising it as doing “favors” for him. Many victims recruited by this method aren’t aware that they are being trafficked and resume a normal lifestyle. Some girls may even continue to live at home or go to school while they are being groomed or exploited.

Still others are trafficked without even leaving their homes. The place where children should feel the most protected and loved is the place where they are abused over and over again. These girls and boys, who are recruited and sold by their own family members, account for about 10% of all trafficking victims. If we continue to think of sex trafficking as the transportation of individuals, we will miss opportunities to identify and help children who are being bought and sold within their own homes, school, and communities.

As you go about your day, lookout for these warning signs in women and children you interact with:

  • Signs of physical abuse such as burn marks, bruises or cuts  
  • Unexplained absences from school, truancy  
  • Less appropriately dressed than before  
  • Sexualized behavior  
  • Overly tired or falls asleep in class
  • Withdrawn, depressed, or distracted  
  • Brags about making or having lots of money  
  • Unexplained expensive clothes, accessories, or shoes  
  • New tattoo (tattoos are often used by pimps as a way to brand victims.)  
  • Older boyfriend, new friends with a different lifestyle, or gang involvement  
  • Disjointed family connections, running away, living with friends, or experiencing homelessness

If you notice one or more of these signs in someone you know, say something. Even if you are unsure of a situation, don’t hesitate to report a tip to the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888

Myth: Porn is harmless and doesn’t affect the sex trafficking industry.

Reality: Porn perpetuates the sex trafficking industry and is extremely harmful to both the consumer and the performer.  

Porn is a subject that is often swept under the rug. We like to pretend that it’s not an issue, especially in the church. But the reality is that porn is a pervasive problem, and it needs to be addressed. Check out this video that explains some of its damaging effects:

In all respects, porn is a gateway to and a cause of sex trafficking because it creates demand. Porn is not only used to advertise for sex trafficking, but many of the women and children in the photos and videos are trafficked themselves. In fact, 1 in 5 pornagraphic images online are of children, which by definition is sex trafficking.

The United States is a leading consumer of sex and remains the largest producer and consumer of child abuse content in the world. As stated in the video above, 85% of young men and nearly half of young women watch porn on a regular basis. This has enormous consequences for those who watch porn and for those exploited by the porn and sex trafficking industries.

One major impact is how porn alters the way people view and treat women and children. For example, a viewer of porn is 31% more likely to blame a rape on a victim. Porn consumers also have a 22% increase risk of committing sexual offenses, including offenses that involve sex trafficking. The reason for this is because watching porn makes it easier for people to rationalize commercial sexual exploitation and desensitizes viewers to sexual abuse, even child rape.

Contrary to what some may think, porn’s effects are not exclusive to male viewers. Women who are exposed to porn at an early age are more likely to have rape fantasies and to support sexual violence against women. Porn is also used by pimps and buyers to show the victims of sex trafficking how they need to perform for their clients or show children that sex between an adult and a child is normal and even enjoyable.

It is imperative for us to take back the sacredness of sex and take a stand to value and protect the innocence of our children. There are many ways to get involved with the recovery of our community from the grips of pornography. If you are a man who is seeking to stop consuming porn or someone who wants to help other men work through this addiction, check out Proven Men. Proven Men offers encouragement and help to men struggling with sexual addiction through support groups, studies, and more. There are also many similar programs for women who struggle with porn and sexual addiction. Check out these helpful resources from Covenant Eyes.

How do you think our communities would be different if we recognized pornography for what it truly is and refused to click? Help us stop the demand for sex trafficking at the source! Join us and Fight the New Drug by reposting this blog on social media and using the hashtag #NoPornNovember.

Sources: Porn and Sex Trafficking: 10 Facts from the Experts,

Child Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation in the United States (Thorn, 2014)