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Real Stories of Sex Trafficking Victims in Porn

Here are a few examples of real cases of sex trafficking in porn, and what survivors endured while they were exploited for profit.

By September 30, 2022No Comments

Sex trafficking in porn is a much bigger issue than most people realize.

According to cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, pornography was the 3rd-most common form of sex trafficking, after escort services and elicit massage businesses.Polaris. (2020). 2019 data report: The U.S. national human trafficking hotline. Retrieved from https://polarisproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Polaris-2019-US-National-Human-Trafficking-Hotline-Data-Report.pdfCopy 

In the year 2000, in response to reports of international human trafficking, one of the broadest bipartisan coalitions in history came together to pass the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, or TVPA.Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000, Pub. L. No. 106–386, Section 102(a), 114 Stat. 1464. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/BILLS-106hr3244enr/pdf/BILLS-106hr3244enr.pdfCopy 

Related: How Porn Can Fuel Sex Trafficking

The landmark legislation identified “severe forms” of human trafficking, imposed harsh criminal penalties for offenders, and provided support systems for the victims.

Amended and reauthorized most recently in 2017, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act defines sex trafficking as a situation in which “a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.”Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000, Pub. L. No. 106–386, Section 102(a), 114 Stat. 1464. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/BILLS-106hr3244enr/pdf/BILLS-106hr3244enr.pdfCopy Trafficking victims protection reauthorization act of 2017, (2017). Retrieved from https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/BILLS-115s1862enr/pdf/BILLS-115s1862enr.pdfCopy 

Here are some examples of real cases of sex trafficking in porn, and what survivors endured while they were exploited for profit.

Get The Facts

Trafficked by force

If someone is physically overpowered, drugged, or otherwise made to participate in a commercial sex act against their will or without their consent, they have been sex trafficked by force.

In an example of a case of sex trafficking by force, two men—one a former Miami police officer—lured women to Florida to audition for modeling jobs. When the women arrived, however, the men drugged them, filmed them being raped, and then sold the footage as porn online and to stores across the U.S.U.S. Department of Justice, “Two Men Sentenced to Multiple Life Sentences for Enticing Women to South Florida to Engage in Commercial Sex Acts and Distributing Date Rape Pills,” press release, February 17, 2012. https://www.justice.gov/archive/usao/fls/PressReleases/2012/120217-03.htmlCopy 

Some victims—not fully aware of what had happened to them—later woke up in their cars, covered in vomit. Other victims had absolutely no recollection of what happened before being made aware of the videos.FBI. (2012). A sordid scam: Two receive life sentences for preying on aspiring models Retrieved from https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/a-sordid-scamCopy  This went on for five years, before the men were finally convicted.U.S. Department of Justice, “Two Men Sentenced to Multiple Life Sentences for Enticing Women to South Florida to Engage in Commercial Sex Acts and Distributing Date Rape Pills,” press release, February 17, 2012. https://www.justice.gov/archive/usao/fls/PressReleases/2012/120217-03.htmlCopy 

Because these women were drugged and raped while unconscious, that qualifies as sex trafficking by force.

Related: How the Porn Industry Profits From Nonconsensual Content and Abuse

In another example, around 100 women were recruited to participate in what they were told would be a “sleep study.” When they arrived at the “study’s” location, they were drugged, raped, and filmed by a man who then sold the footage to porn sites, making an estimated $100,000.Lacey-Bordeaux, E., & Ripley, W. (2015). Man accused of raping women during fake sleep study, putting video of attacks online. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2015/02/05/asia/japan-rape-porn-arrest/index.htmlCopy 

Again, sex trafficking by force.

It’s also important to note that there are many trafficking victims who are already being sold for sex, whose assaults are then filmed and distributed as pornography.

One survivor named Jessa—who was trafficked by her family as a young child and into her adulthood—told us in an interview, “[I had] guns pointed at me and people telling me that if I didn’t keep doing what they told me to do that I would be shot. I was being raped, but I had a smile on my face. I had to act like I enjoyed it.”Fight the New Drug (2020). Jessa's Story: I Survived Being Sold Into Child Porn & Sex Slavery. YouTube, YouTube, 17 Mar. 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=pikvDbl31sU&t.Copy 

Jessa had already been forced into sex trafficking, and was then filmed by her traffickers and abusers. Sexual abuse and sex trafficking are incredibly traumatic events to begin with, but when that trauma is filmed and distributed as pornography, the victims are re-traumatized over and over.

Fast Facts

How about trafficked by fraud?

There are countless other examples of victims being tricked into porn, too.

Examples include: when a man in Florida secretly filmed men he had sex with and sold the videos to porn sites;The United States Department of Justice. (2018). Florida man sentenced to three years in prison for surreptitiously producing and distributing pornographic audio and video recordings of himself engaged in sexual activity with at least 80 others. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/florida-man-sentenced-three-years-prison-surreptitiously-producing-and-distributingCopy  the growing number of women tricked into participating in Japan’s multi-billion-dollar porn industry;The Star. (2016). Tricked into porn: Japanese actresses step out of the shadows. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com.my/news/regional/2016/10/05/tricked-into-porn/Copy  or the long list of vulnerable teens and young people who are recruited to be “models” then coerced into porn.

All of which brings us to sex trafficking by coercion.Fight the New Drug. (2020). How teens get tricked, coerced, and trafficked into doing amateur porn. Retrieved from https://fightthenewdrug.org/how-teen-girls-get-tricked-into-doing-porn/Copy 

Related: How Porn Can Promote Sexual Violence

Producers may lie or withhold information about what is expected of the performer. Agents may threaten to blacklist the performer if they don’t go through with what they’re pressuring them to do.

Regardless, this type of coercion is commonplace in the porn industry, and legally speaking, it’s trafficking.

One performer described her experience of being coerced into a scene she had not fully consented to, saying,

“I was in California and I had a blowjob scene… I go there and he’s like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s a forced blowjob, And I’m like, ‘What?’ Just one guy, one little camera on a tripod… I was scared. I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if I could tell him no. Or the fact that we already recorded 15 minutes of it, if I could just f—ing leave. Then what? That’s when I understood that’s how rape victims feel. Like, they feel bad about themselves.”Jones, R., Bauer, J., Gradus, R., & Huckabee, B. (Producers), & Bauer, J. and Gradus, R. (Directors). (2015). Hot girls wanted. (Motion Picture) Netflix.Copy 

Store - General

More examples of trafficking by coercion

Here are a few more quotes from former and current porn performers that show what coercion looks like in context. Keep in mind that some of these performers were, or are, popular and well-known in the porn community:

“I was threatened that if I did not do the scene I was going to get sued for lots of money.”Hughes, D. (2010). Sex trafficking of women for the production of pornography. Citizens Against Trafficking, doi:https://www.academia.edu/4847671/Sex_Trafficking_of_Women_for_the_Production_of_PornographyCopy 

“He told me that I had to do it and if I can’t, he would charge me and I would lose any other bookings I had because I would make his agency look bad.”Hughes, D. (2010). Sex trafficking of women for the production of pornography. Citizens Against Trafficking, doi:https://www.academia.edu/4847671/Sex_Trafficking_of_Women_for_the_Production_of_PornographyCopy 

“I just remembered being so scared and so uncomfortable, and in so much pain. But again the only thing that ran through my head was that he was either going to hurt me if I tried to walk off set or that I was going to be blacklisted, or that I wasn’t going to be paid. I was also in shock.”Stern, M. (2020). 10 women accuse porn star Ryan Madison of sexual abuse: ‘There was blood everywhere’. Retrieved from https://www.thedailybeast.com/ryan-madison-accused-of-sexual-abuse-by-10-women-there-was-blood-everywhereCopy 

Related: How Porn Can Distort Consumers’ Understanding of Healthy Sex

None of these quotes is from someone who was chained in a room. None of these quotes are from victims who were beaten into submission or held at gunpoint in some run-down brothel.

Each of these performers went home at the end of the shoot and collected a paycheck. But does it really sound like enthusiastic consent? Or does it sound more like coercion?

BHW - The World

Consent is never a guarantee

How many of these videos were viewed by individuals who would never dream of contributing to human trafficking? Individuals who assumed they were watching the work of consenting performers?

Related: Why Today’s Internet Porn is Unlike Anything the World Has Ever Seen

The unfortunate truth is that it’s incredibly difficult to guarantee that performers are truly participating consensually.

As long as there’s a demand for porn—especially porn that is extreme, abusive, or degrading—the porn industry will continue to exploit vulnerable people to meet that demand.

This is a selected excerpt from one of our Get The Facts articles. Click here to read the full article, “How Porn Can Fuel Sex Trafficking.”

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