What is Sex Trafficking?

In the United States, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines sex trafficking as:  “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age” (22 USC § 7102). The term “commercial sex act” is defined as any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person (22 U.S.C. 7102).


  • In 2014 3,598 sex trafficking cases were reported.
    • Of this number, 1,322 were minors
    • 1,576 were US Citizens
  • As of August 2015, 973 cases of sex trafficking have been reported.
  • In Minnesota 27 sex trafficking cases were reported.
  • A study in Chicago found that 56 percent of prostituted women were initially runaway youth and similar numbers have been identified for male populations.

Who are the victims?

There is no single profile for trafficking victims; trafficking occurs to adults and minors in rural, suburban, or urban communities across the country. Victims of human trafficking have diverse socio-economic backgrounds, varied levels of education, and may be documented or undocumented. Traffickers target victims using tailored methods of recruitment and control they find to be effective in compelling that individual into forced labor or commercial sex.

Who are the traffickers?

Traffickers exploit others for the profit gained from forced labor and commercial sex. They lure and ensnare people into forced labor and sex trafficking by manipulating and exploiting their vulnerabilities. Human traffickers prey on people who are hoping for a better life, lack employment opportunities, have an unstable home life, or have a history of sexual or physical abuse.

Examples of traffickers may include:

  • Brothel and fake massage business owners and managers
  • Employers of domestic servants
  • Gangs and criminal networks
  • Growers and crew leaders in agriculture
  • Intimate partners/family members
  • Labor brokers
  • Factory owners and corporations
  • Pimps
  • Small business owners and managers

Community Resources

  • Safe Haven Shelter and Resource Center

Safe Haven acknowledges the National Human Trafficking Resource Center as the source for this information.