Written by: Heidi Chance, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
While it is often assumed that only women and girls are victims of sex trafficking, the reality is that men and boys are also at risk of being trafficked for commercial sex.
In fact, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, approximately 13% of reported trafficking cases in the United States involve male victims.
In this article, we will explore the issue of men and boys as victims of sex trafficking in the United States, and discuss ways to raise awareness and prevent this form of exploitation.
Who are the male victims of sex trafficking?
Male victims of sex trafficking come from a variety of backgrounds, including low-income families, immigrant communities. Another forgotten population of Sex Trafficking victims are LGBTQIA2S+ individuals. Both may be recruited by traffickers through false job offers, social media, online dating sites, or by being lured into the sex trade through drug addiction or homelessness.
Male victims may also be targeted by traffickers who seek to exploit their vulnerability, such as those with disabilities or mental health issues.
How are male victims of sex trafficking exploited?
Male victims of sex trafficking are often forced into commercial sex acts against their will. They may be coerced through physical violence, threats of harm to themselves or their families, or manipulation and emotional abuse. Male victims may also be forced to perform labor, such as working in massage parlors or agricultural fields, in addition to engaging in commercial sex acts. These experiences can result in long-term physical, emotional, and psychological trauma.
Many of the victims reported that they have had a pre-existing relationship with the person that exploited them. Many met their exploiters on the internet. Some of the websites used to exploit male victims may be seemingly innocent “dating” type of websites such as “Grinder and Adam for Adam.” Individuals advertised on the types of websites may also be exploited by the Sex Buyers who frequent these websites in hopes of finding vulnerable individuals to exploit.
Why are male victims of sex trafficking overlooked?
One reason male victims of sex trafficking are often overlooked is due to cultural stereotypes and misconceptions. There is a widespread belief that men and boys are not vulnerable to sexual exploitation or that they should be able to protect themselves from harm. This can lead to a lack of resources and support for male victims, including access to safe housing, medical care, and mental health services. Additionally, male victims may be less likely to come forward due to shame or fear of being stigmatized or criminalized.
How can we raise awareness and prevent male trafficking?
Raising awareness about male trafficking is critical to preventing and addressing this form of exploitation.
This can include advocating for policies and laws that recognize and address male trafficking, as well as increasing funding for research, prevention, and support services for male victims. It is also important to challenge stereotypes and promote education about male trafficking through outreach programs in schools, community centers, and other public spaces.
Supporting organizations that work to prevent trafficking and support male victims, such as the National Human Trafficking Hotline, the Polaris Project, and other local organizations that offer support to survivors.
Forming organizations that provide appropriate housing and placement locations for male victims, as well as LGBTQIA2S+ individuals where they can receive immediate specific services.
In conclusion, male trafficking and trafficking of LGBTQIA2S+ individuals is a serious and under-recognized issue in the United States. By raising awareness and advocating for male victims, we can work towards a society that recognizes the dignity and worth of all individuals and ensures that everyone has access to the resources and support they need to thrive.
Learn more by taking the "Power of Awareness" course offered on this website. The class goes over victim vulnerabilities, sex buyers and their contribution to the sex trafficking problem, and recruitment and grooming performed by Traffickers/Pimps seeking out victims to exploit.
Heidi Chance, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Heidi Chance, a 25-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department, dedicated her career to combatting sex trafficking, notably serving 13 years in the H.E.A.T (Human Exploitation and Trafficking) Unit. As an expert in forensic child interviews, abuse identification, online child protection, and undercover operations, she's a sought-after speaker, addressing law enforcement and many conferences. Heidi is featured in the PBS documentary "Sex Trafficking in America" and now uses her platform at Achanceforawareness.com to raise public awareness and provide training and consulting services to law enforcement, contributing to the fight against sex trafficking.