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As I was writing this article on the scourge of sex trafficking in America and its absolute tie to porn, prostitution, and sex addiction, Jeffrey Epstein burst onto the front page, becoming the new face of sex trafficking. It hasn’t been declared whether he was a part of the trafficking business himself or kept his numerous transactions at short arms length while working closely with a trafficker to bring young teen girls to his private island. But in learning about his extracurricular pursuits, it is most certain he has a sex addiction. You likely didn’t have this picture of elegant parties on a resort island in mind when you think of sex trafficking. But just like most things, more money can buy more insulation from the dark reality of the situation. More about Jeffrey in a minute.

Sex trafficking is a big problem. The facts are in. It is everywhere. It is in your town. It is in my town. You likely don’t see it because most of it occurs behind closed doors, using Internet sites and apps to sell their wares.

Most Americans still have the perception that sex trafficking is something happening in other countries, not here at home. Yet the facts are that, women, but primarily girls age 12-16, in your own town, and all over America, are lured under false premise and deceitful promise of a modeling career, or lured by romantic overtures. Often they are groomed by the trafficker to depend on him, then introduced to drugs and manipulated to pay for her ‘keep’ by having sex with men who pay the trafficker. He profits more off her by recording the sex to sell porn. This victim may just look like a streetwalker that seems to be there on her own terms, yet her captor is in very close range. While recording the porn, the captor is just outside of the camera’s view, expecting a good performance…or else. Sex traffickers have learned to disguise the fact that the ‘performers’ are forced to participate.

In other words, many see prostitution as the victimless crime of two willing participants. Americans are fooled into thinking that what they see in porn is always men and women freely engaging in consensual sex. Contrary to that popular image sold by the porn industry, many women are being forced or coerced to have sex, even restrained, and beaten.

The notion that most women involved in porn and prostitution made a career choice to be in these industries is fallacy, meant to soothe the conscience of the user. Even for the percentage of women that make this ‘choice’ without direct coercion of another, she has usually been so beaten down by relationships, life circumstances, or drug addiction that it is made as a desperate last resort. Has a healthy teenager or young woman in your family ever pursued the sex industry as her career choice?

No doubt, many men who hire prostitutes believe they would not engage with someone that is being forced against their will. The reality though, is a man would be hard pressed to know who is or isn’t a victim of her keepers.  The other reality is that by immersing himself in porn, by its very nature, it desensitizes him and devalues the other person, so that men are increasingly, knowingly willing to have sex with women who are being controlled and abused by pimps and traffickers.

We know that sex trafficking is increasing — which means demand is increasing.

Porn users create the demand for sex trafficking.

Porn use creates the demand for prostitution and more sex trafficking.

It is all profit driven.
If there was no interest in porn or prostitution,
sex trafficking would cease to exist.

When men show up to use a prostitute, many come ready with porn images in hand to show the women what they want them to do. According to Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of National Center on Sexual Exploitation, she learned from women out of these horrific situations, that all women said they had been harmed by men who had either forced or tried to force them to do things the men had seen in porn, and porn had been made of them while they were in prostitution.

“Drugs, alcohol, physical abuse, blackmail, threats, fake legal documents, deceitful enticing, promises of fame and money and so much more are used to get the girls to perform what and how the producers desire”, she added.

And that brings us back to Jeffrey Epstein and his own version of Fantasy Island. He allegedly operated using coercion of young teenage girls (no matter how sophisticated they appear in makeup and heels) whom he brought to his island from other countries, using  tactics of deceitful enticement, promises of fame and money to ensnare these girls in his luxurious enclave. His crimes are the exact same as the trafficker using dingy rooms. Just because it’s all dressed up doesn’t make it any less barbaric. These girls do not know what they’re getting themselves into. The men do. That’s why men are meant to protect women. Not use them.

If you need some clarity for your own situation, talk to a man who understands what you’re dealing with, because he’s been there too.

men@avenue.works or call 877-326-7000.

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