7 Facts About the Intersection Between Sexual Violence and Human Trafficking

According to World Without Exploitation, the majority of women and girls who are survivors of sex trafficking are survivors of childhood sexual abuse.[1] 


Sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and/or physical abuse increase a child’s vulnerability to sexual exploitation.[2]


Youth who experience sexual abuse are “28 times more likely to be arrested for prostitution at some point in their lives than children who [did] not.”[3]


Among girls who are survivors of sex trafficking, a history of child sexual abuse is the most common characteristic.[4]


The State Department’s 2021 Trafficking in Persons report identifies “intimate partner violence or domestic violence” as factors that increase an individual’s vulnerability to human trafficking.[5]


The vast majority of human trafficking survivors experience multiple forms of abuse, such as domestic violence and sexual assault.[6]


Many survivors of trafficking also suffer multiple forms of abuse at the hands of their attacker, including sexual violence.[7]


[1] World Without Exploitation, available at https://www.worldwithoutexploitation.org/stats.
[2] Linda a. Smith et al., Shared Hope Int’l, The National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: America’s Prostituted Children 4 (2009)
[3] Cathy S. Widom, Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse: Later Criminal Consequences, Nat’l inst. of Justice Research In Brief (Mar. 1995), available at https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/abuse.pdf.
[4] Francine T. Sherman & Lisa Goldblatt Grace, The System Response to the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Girls, in Juvenile Justice: Advancing Research, Policy, and Practice 336 (Francine T. Sherman & Francine H. Jacobs eds., 2011)
[5] U.S. Department of State, 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report: United States, available at https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-trafficking-in-persons-report/united-states/.
[6] Center for Court Innovation, The Intersection of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Human Trafficking, available at https://childlaw.unm.edu/assets/docs/video-conferences/2016/UnderstandingHumanTrafficking_2.pdf.
[7] Human Trafficking Prevention Resource Center of Louisiana, What is Human Trafficking?, available at https://humantrafficking.la.gov/what-is-human-trafficking/.