When you think of a victim of human trafficking, what “picture” comes to mind?
For most of us, it’s a picture of a young girl or young woman walking the street in provocative clothing or being sold for sex on the web, at a truck stop, or in a hotel. Few of us picture a boy or a man in the same situation. Yet, the reality is that large numbers of boys and men find themselves as victims of human sex trafficking.
In a study done in 2008 by John Jay College of Criminal Justice, it was found that males “comprised 45% of sexually exploited children in a study done in New York.” Another study done by ECPAT-USA in 2013 reported that the exploitation of male victims “is vastly under reported.”
There are a number of reasons for this phenomenon. Many male victims are reluctant to come forward about their victimization for fear of being considered weak. They, like their female counterparts, feel shame and guilt. Often, they are confused about their sexual orientation which adds to the shame and guilt. Others fear violence from their pimps if they come forward.
Male victims of sex trafficking suffer the same types of trauma as females. They often suffer from depression and are at risk for committing suicide and abusing drugs and alcohol. Many male victims have suffered physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse as children. They are more vulnerable because of this, as are those who find themselves in foster care or on the street after running from an abusive home.
Thankfully, the plight of male victims of sexual exploitation is coming to light. However, there are very few services for male victims. Many of those that do exist only provide short-term housing. Hopefully, with this new insight, more adequate aftercare and reintegration services will be established to help save exploited boys and men from the world of sex trafficking.
Click here to learn more about sex trafficking in boys and men.