The crime of human trafficking, told through the eyes of victims.

These are survivor-informed lived experiences, composite narratives of real-life situations and events.


People who are or were exploited by a trafficker.


Based on information received from experts who have lived experience with human trafficking.


Was looking for a home and people like him.

An account of a large-scale sex trafficking ring.

I was a typical teenager.

Not as wild as some of my friends, but I was curious about drinking, sex, and experimenting with different things. I partied a lot with my friend Peter, we were like brothers. We felt safe trying new things together.

My parents were religious and strict. So when I started getting into porn and partying they came down on me pretty hard, I was grounded all the time, and I was miserable. I left when I turned 18 not considering the consequences, I just wanted my freedom.

Young people with unstable housing are a vulnerable population that traffickers target, coercing them into a dangerous situation with the promise of a place to live.

At first it was fun. Peter and I went to clubs, crashing on friends’ couches. We hung out with a particular group of guys who lived with this older guy, SK, who paid for everything. Some of them even had “SK” tattooed on their arms, like they were branded.

Traffickers sometimes brand their victims to signal they “own” them, or use the promise of a tattoo as a reward. (Tattoos are very common and not solely associated with human trafficking.)

Over time, Peter and I started going to SK’s with the other guys and now we live there. He lets us play video games and party. He even cooks big family meals to make it feel like a home. SK buys food, clothes, drugs, alcohol, phones—all of it. There’s also a lot of sex. Men and women come over constantly.

Traffickers can take a normal interest and exploit it, using it as a way to control, manipulate, and threaten.

I realize now that staying for free at SK’s means we owe him sex. Either with him, or with other “dates” so he can make money. Or, if we bring new boys home to him then he can make money off of them and we can get a break.

Traffickers force victims into illegal activity, using them as recruiters, so they can’t go to the police for fear of incriminating themselves, too.

I want to leave. Peter doesn’t think it’s safe. SK controls the money and us. All I ever wanted was to be free.

This demonstrates how hard it is to just leave. Peter and Luke have no money and nowhere to go, making it very challenging to survive on their own.