DEAR KAYLA: Sex Trafficking

By: Kayla Moorhead

Young Teen Girl Faces a Possible "Sex Trafficker"

Q) DEAR KAYLA: I am 16-years-old. Recently, and older man who looked to be in his thirties confronted me in the mall yesterday. He asked me if I had ever modeled, or known anyone who'd like to model for his "new" agency. He told me that I was pretty, and I looked like I could be a model or dancer myself. I felt a little uncomfortable with his compliments, obviously seeing he's old enough to be my dad! He gave me a business card with the title of the modeling agency, and his number. Should I give him a call?

A) DEAR TEEN: I heavily recommend you do not call. It would be best to have your parent/guardian call, and consult with the confronter. Most modeling agencies that are legit have appropriate ways of recruiting models. Which is speaking with a parent first, or having an agency that is well known, and approved within or outside it's community. It could turn out to be spam, or even worse, a trick to force young girls into prostitution. I know it sounds horrible, but it is possible. You may have encountered what we call a "sex trafficker". A a sex trafficker is someone who lures young girls, like you, into a promised lifestyle of luxury, or even as you mentioned, modeling, to end up being sexually exploited. They mostly target runaways, or girls who are vulnerable to the persuasion of the trafficker. However, I'm glad you asked, and I hoped I could help with your question. For more information about sex trafficking, and it's traffickers, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1 (888) 373-788 for tips, and or even reporting your confrontation as well (highly suggested). Be safe and thank you for sharing!

A Survivors Cope to Sex Trafficking

Q) DEAR KAYLA: I am 22-years-old, and I am a survivor of sex trafficking. At the age of 12, I was forced into prostitution by my uncle in the summer of 05'. Even though he was put to jail, I still have trouble coping with what happened. Ever since then, I've been deeply depressed, and I've completely isolated myself from friends and family. They've all been great support, but I just can't accept it. I feel that is was all my fault, and if I had spoke up soon enough, this would have never happened. Is there anything I can do to rid the shame?

A) DEAR SURVIVOR: The first thing I want you to understand is that it was NEVER your fault, and you are not alone. There are many survivors of sex trafficking who have been forced into prostitution by someone they know. Whether it was a relative or their next door neighbor, just like you, they were manipulated, and deprived from their childhood by a trafficker. I understand that you are not accepting support at the moment and that is absolutely OK. It takes time to cope. If you are willing to accept assistance, there are multiple available resources to look through. I highly recommend meeting face to face with a sex trafficking advocate, or calling the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. I want to provide you with a number of organizations that will help you as well. These include the Polaris Project, Shared Hope International, and Equality Now which all focus on eliminating trafficking across the world. I hope the resources I have provided will help, and encourage you to accept support. A voice like your's should be heard because you are strong! Once you are open to opportunities, please consider sharing your story to aware others about the dangers of sex trafficking, and calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at: 1 (888) 373-788. Thank you, and take coping one step at a time.