Sex Trafficking in the U.S.

Thousands of brothels in the U.S. operate under the guise of legitimate massage parlors.

Traffickers sell women and children online everyday.

Curtains are used to divide rooms in residential brothels, where women are forced to engage in commercial sex.

Pimps use violence and coercion to commercially sexually exploit young women.

Young girls are forced to sell sex by knocking on cab doors at truck stops.

Prostituted individuals are forced to make hundreds of dollars in nightly quotas to be given to their traffickers.

Sex trafficking is a form of modern slavery that exists throughout the United States and globally.

Sex traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage, and other forms of coercion to force women, men and children to engage in commercial sex against their will. Under federal law, any minor under the age of 18 years induced into commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking—regardless of whether or not the trafficker used force, fraud, or coercion.

Sex traffickers may lure their victims with the false promise of a high-paying job. Others promise a romantic relationship, where they first establish an initial period of false love and feigned affection. During this period they offer gifts, compliments, and sexual and physical intimacy, while making elaborate promises of a better life, fast money, and future luxuries. However, the trafficker eventually employs a variety of control tactics, including physical and emotional abuse, sexual assault, confiscation of identification and money, isolation from friends and family, and even renaming victims.

U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, women, men, children, and LGBTQ individuals can be victims of sex trafficking. Runaway and homeless youth, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, war or conflict, or social discrimination are frequently targeted by traffickers.

Sex trafficking exists within diverse venues including fake massage businesses, online escort services, residential brothels, in public on city streets and in truck stops, strip clubs, hotels and motels, and elsewhere.

In street-based sex trafficking, victims are often expected to earn a nightly quota, ranging from $500 to $1000 or more, which is confiscated by the pimp. Women in brothels disguised as massage businesses typically live on-site where they are coerced into providing commercial sex to 6 to 10 men a day, 7 days a week.

Learn more about sex trafficking, including specific details of the venues where sex trafficking frequently occurs, at www.traffickingresourcecenter.org.



  • Learn to Recognize the Signs of human trafficking in your community.
  • Call the hotline at 1-888-373-7888 if you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking.
  • Send a text to BeFree (233733) if you need help.
  • Visit our Action Center to find opportunities to tell your elected officials to take action against sex trafficking.
NHTRC-module National Human Trafficking Resource Center Report Human Trafficking Access Trainings Human Trafficking Information & Resources

Client Quotes

"Thanks to Polaris Project, I have a job, a home, and many friends that help me when I need it. I am making a life of my own."


- Survivor of Labor Trafficking & Client of Polaris