#StopTheDemandHuman trafficking isn't only a third-world issue or a dramatic film plot. Sex trafficking is a global epidemic that affects 4.5 million men, women, and children everywhere—it can happen across the world or in your own backyard. #StopTheDemand shines a light on the victims and survivors of sex trafficking while raising awareness about one of the main sources that drives the demand for sexual exploitation in the first place: pornography. Join us in fighting exploitation and supporting survivors.

The following story was sent to Fight the New Drug by a woman who encountered a very suspicious and fraudulent situation that likely would have resulted in sex trafficking or sexual exploitation. While she was able to spot the manipulation, many teens wouldn’t have been able to in that same situation. This is how countless people are trafficked into sexual exploitation, and this is her true story.


I was almost tricked and frauded into the commercial sex industry. Almost.

I was approached by a man when I was alone at National Gallery in London who introduced himself as an art professor looking for models for his most recent project. Looking at me from afar, he said thought I would be a perfect model. Then, he asked me if I have any prior modeling experience, which I do.

I started talking to him about the ”project,” but from the conversation I had with him, I could tell that he was not a real art professor, and he could not explain to me properly about what this project was really about because it was obviously fake. Instead, he just told me, ”This is actually a very important project with a very wealthy Swedish investor behind it. That’s why I can’t give you all the details here when all other people are around. I don’t want anyone to overhear our conversation.” …Right.

Discovering his lie

Then, he mentioned that this project also requires me to be naked, and put on a very erotic show. At this point, I was sure he was talking about porn, and I point-blank asked, ”Is this about pornography? If that’s what you’re after at least have the decency to tell people honestly what this really is about. Trying to dupe unsuspecting women into doing porn is very unethical.”

Even after I told him this, he still vehemently denied and said, ”No this is not pornography, it’s just a very beautiful and artistic show. Actually, can you come to my hotel room now so we can talk about everything?”

Related: Force, Fraud, And Coercion: Uncovering When Sex Trafficking And Porn Production Overlap

At this point, I was invested in discovering his lie, and I wanted to be 100% sure if he was talking about porn so I could file a police report. I decided to play dumb and asked him leading questions. I just told him that I would love to get to know more about this project but I needed to go to the cloakroom downstairs to get my coat and maybe we should go for lunch before the hotel. All this was to earn some time for the questions before actually being alone with him.

Thinking that he already earned my trust, he started speaking a lot more about the project, continuing to avoid saying “porn” while staying vague. The things he spoke about and the things he asked me included: ”You will be paid a lot,” and, ”Do you drink or smoke?,” and, ”Are you a drug user?,” and, ”Do you have any mental health issues?,” and, ”Do you have any STI’s?”

Related: Pornography: Behind The Scenes Of Sex Trafficking’s Marketing Department

Because of what I know about the porn world and recruitment tactics, these things he asked convinced me 100% that he was trying to find a porn actress or even worse—this could definitely be related to human trafficking/sex trafficking.

Eventually, my patience ran out and I said, ”Did you really think you could fool me? …Now, I’ll have to take you to the police station and tell them everything that just happened.” At that point, seeing how serious I was, he ran away and I couldn’t take him to the police station with me, but I still filed a report.

Unsuspecting victims

The scariest thing is I don’t think a regular teen would have been able to understand what was really going on. And if anyone actually believed him, followed him and something bad happened, most people would blame the victim and say “she should have known better.” Not true. I’m lucky that I knew better, but so many people wouldn’t be.

I think people should understand that this is how deceptive and manipulative much of the porn and/or sex industry can be.

Related: Inside The Industry: Performers Speak Out On Trafficking And Exploitation In Porn

I’m not interested in doing porn because I have better things to do with my life. But if I was younger, more desperate, trying to escape an abusive family, or having money problems, I can’t say for sure if I still wouldn’t be interested. And for any teen, even if they come from a decent family, the allure of independence and wealth is hard to resist.

From what I’ve seen from manipulators like this guy, these people don’t even say it’s porn and lie until they run out of breath. I’m very sure not many teens would resist the offer, and be tricked instead.

L.

Tricked and trafficked every day

L’s story is as fascinating as it is unsettling. Although she was able to walk away from that situation, thousands of teens all across the world are tricked every day by charismatic porn producers and sex traffickers looking to make money off “fresh talent.”

While these exploiters may seem suspicious to some, to many teens with limited experience and in need of cash, they seem like an easy opportunity for success. And like L’s story, many are not told up front what they’ll be doing. Some will mention “nude modeling,” or “photographing lingerie,” or an “erotic show” like what this guy said, but the end goal is usually one thing: get as much as possible out of these victims.

Related: Understanding The Reality Of Men And Boys Who Are Sex Trafficking Victims

These people get unsuspecting victims into situations where they feel like they can’t say “no” to what’s being asked. For those who do know what they’re getting into right off the bat, they still don’t mention the situations where they might be raped on camera or forced to perform the most degrading acts imaginable for consumers to play on repeat. This isn’t some innocent recruitment where they only have to pretend to have sex with a stranger and get paid in return.

A lot of times, if they say “yes” and show up to the shoot, project, or “opportunity,” they will be unable to back out even if they wanted to. They’re threatened, coerced, and humiliated into giving these people what they want. This, by definition, is sex trafficking. Whether it be a fat check or a hidden clause in their “modeling” contract, stories like the one above yields hundreds of victims a day who never understand what they’re getting themselves into or were told what they were signing up for.

Fraud, force, and coercion

Here’s another real-life example:

Not long ago, we posted a video interview (that has since been removed) we found online of a mom who had dropped her daughter off at her first porn shoot. The mother and daughter talked with the porn director casually about the experience and answered a bunch of questions about the mother’s support for the daughter. Crazy, right?

After Fight the New Drug posted the video, we quickly learned there was much more to the story. We received a message from the girl herself, telling us what really went down that day and begging us to take down the video, which we did immediately. Here is a screenshot of the actual message we received from the teen in the video.

The real story was that she fell for an online classifieds gimmick, exactly like ones listed here. She was just 18 when the ad caught her eye, and off she went to her first porn shoot without being told what she was really signing up for:

screenshotcraigslist
This is just a glimpse into what can happen before and after the cameras roll.

Porn and trafficking are inextricably connected

Here’s something to think about: how do we know for sure that anyone in any porn content gave their consent to be there, or were fully aware of what they were agreeing to when they signed on the dotted line?

Defenders of pornography make this argument all the time, that no matter how someone is treated in porn, it’s okay because they gave their consent. [1] But what if they didn’t? What if the male or female on screen really didn’t want to be painfully dominated, humiliated, and sexually used for the world to see?

The truth is, there’s often much more going on than what you see on the screen, like what these stories illustrate. That is, perhaps, the porn industry’s biggest, darkest secret: it’s not all consensual.

There is a tendency to believe that “human trafficking” refers to a Third World problem: forced prostitution or child pornography rings in some far-off, developing country. The truth is, sex trafficking is officially defined as a “modern-day form of slavery in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years.” [2] That means any instance in which the individual on screen was forced, tricked, or pressured. By that definition, human trafficking is everywhere. [3]

We’re not claiming that all porn is non-consensual. We’re just pointing out that some of it is and some of it isn’t, and when you watch it there’s no way to know which is which. This is why we’re raising awareness on the reality of porn and sex trafficking because we believe consumers have a right to know what they could be supporting when they click on porn.

Get Involved

Expose the porn industry for what it really is and SHARE this article. Porn doesn’t only harm those who watch it, it harms those who take part in creating it.

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Citations

[1] Whisnant, R. (2016). Pornography, Humiliation, And Consent. Sexualization, Media, & Society, 2(3), 1-7. Doi:10.1177/2374623816662876; Dines, G., (2010). Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality. Boston, MA: Beacon Press; Dworkin, A., (1980). Pornography: Men Possessing Women. New York, NY: Penguin Books.
[2] Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) Of 2000. Pub. L. No. 106-386, Section 103 (8) (A).
[3] Peters, R. W., Lederer, L. J., And Kelly, S. (2012). The Slave And The Porn Star: Sexual Trafficking And Pornography. In M. Mattar & J. Braunmiller (Eds.) Journal Of Human Rights And Civil Society 5: 1-21. Retrieved From Http://Www.Protectionproject.Org/Wp-Content/Uploads/2012/11/TPP-J-HR-Civ-Socy_Vol-5_2012-W-Cover.Pdf; Malarek, V. (2009). The Johns: Sex For Sale And The Men Who Buy It. (Pp. 202-204) New York, NY: Arcade; Farley, M. (2007). Renting An Organ For Ten Minutes: What Tricks Tell Us About Prostitution, Pornography, And Trafficking. In D. E. Guinn & J. DiCaro (Eds.) Pornography: Driving The Demand In International Sex Trafficking, (P. 145). BLoomington, IN: Xlibris. D. M. Hughes. (2000). “Welcome To The Rape Camp”: Sexual Exploitation And The Internet In Cambodia. Journal Of Sexual Aggression, 6(1-2), 29-51. Doi:10.1080/13552600008413308

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