One of Uprising’s biggest missions is to dispell the rumor that sex trafficking doesn’t happen here.

The facts are:

  • Sex trafficking cases have been reported in all fifty states.

  • It can happen in big cities, small towns and everywhere in between.

Through our educational classes, we explore how traffickers prey on a person’s vulnerabilities and use those to eventually exploit them. We also talk more in depth about the defention of sex trafficking, and how it doesn’t always look like girls tied up in motel rooms, or like the movie ‘Taken.’ Once participants are able to realize how sex trafficking can look so many different ways, they tend to realize just how easily it can happen anywhere. 

Below are a few case studies we use during our Love146 #NotANumber classes with you, that depict more common sex trafficking scenarios:

Leo is 16 years old and is attracted to other boys. He finally decides to come out to a few close friends. They are supportive, and so he tells his sister, even though he knows his family will disapprove. His sister is furious and—despite his begging not to—she tells their parents. Leo’s parents are so upset that they kick him out of the house. Leo sleeps on his friends’ couches as long as he can, but eventually he becomes homeless. At a local park where he sometimes sleeps, Leo meets Max, who is also living on the street. Max and Leo become friends and eventually boyfriends. Max knows a lot more about surviving on the street than Leo. One night, the temperature outside is unbearable and they can’t get into the shelter. They want to get a hotel room but don’t have any money. They go to an area Max knows about, and they have sex with two men who promise to pay for dinner and a hotel room.

Her best friend introduced them. Things got serious quickly. David asked Sarah to live with him after only a month. It felt like a big step and Sarah was nervous about it, but she figured it was better than her current situation. Her parents were strict and she never had any freedom. They gave her everything she wanted—except for affection and praise—and wanted only perfection from her. David gave her butterfly feelings every time she saw him. He told her she was beautiful and kind and said he would do anything for her. She felt a connection to him she hadn’t ever experienced. Shortly after she moved in, David asked her to have sex with one of his friends. He acted like he felt bad about it, but said that he owed some money and it would really help him out. Sarah didn’t understand how David could be okay with her having sex with another guy, but she loved him and wanted to help. Afterwards, David told her how much he loved her. A few weeks went by before he asked for another favor. This time, he wanted her to have sex with a few strangers to help pay rent. When she said she didn’t want to, he started yelling that she was stupid and that she was lucky he was willing to take care of her. Sarah felt really bad because he had done so much for her; so she agreed. After that, David told her that this was how he expected her to pay her portion of the rent and other expenses from now on.

Isabella and Maria, both 13 years old, are friends who live in the same apartment building. Their parents work a lot so they are often home alone. Maria’s 17-year-old cousin, Catrina, also lives in the building with her boyfriend, Eduardo. Eduardo is 8 years older than Catrina and this makes her feel safe. After she moved in, Eduardo started talking about how he wanted to see her with other girls—girls like Isabella and Maria. Catrina wants Eduardo to be happy, so she invites the girls over just to hang out, watch a movie, smoke some pot, and have a few drinks. Isabella and Maria feel grown up when they’re at Catrina’s apartment. After hanging out a few times, Eduardo asks the three of them to kiss each other while he records it on his phone. The girls don’t know what to think about it at first, but Catrina seems okay with it. The next time they go over, Eduardo asks them to kiss each other again. This time he wants them to go further and touch each other as he records. The girls are uncomfortable but don’t want Catrina and Eduardo to think they’re immature. Catrina knows that Eduardo is trading the videos online, but she doesn’t tell Isabella and Maria.

“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but actually you’ve been planted”

- Christine Caine


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