trafficking myth

Trafficking | Myth vs. Fact - Busting 4 Common Myths

Today, we’re going to be busting some myths about sex trafficking. Let’s examine the common misconceptions and uncover the truths.

Myth: A sex trafficker is a shady character who physically attacks and captures people to force them into sexual exploitation.

Fact: Contrary to the common belief that traffickers are shadowy figures who physically abduct their victims, less than 10% of sex trafficking cases involve kidnapping. In reality, traffickers can be individuals within the victim’s social circle, including family members, friends, partners, and even teachers. They often appear friendly and trustworthy, making it essential to trust your instincts and seek help if something feels off.

Myth: Sex trafficking only happens outside the U.S. and involves dramatic scenarios with guns and organized crime.

Fact: Many assume that sex trafficking is a problem exclusive to other countries. However, in the United States, 75% of sex trafficking cases occur domestically. It doesn’t does not need to involve travel of any kind. It is the exchange of a sexual act for something of value, not necessarily money. Often people are lured into sex trafficking through psychological manipulation and connection, not guns and threats. Films and TV shows can create a false understanding of sex trafficking and make it more difficult to understand the signs that may be happening in front of you. 

Myth: Sex trafficking only happens to girls and people who are already troubled or troublemakers. 

Fact: While girls are commonly perceived as the sole victims, boys are also significantly affected. In Hawaii, 23% of confirmed sex trafficking victims are boys, which we believe to be an underrepresentation due to the stigma of shame for males that leads them to stay silent. Although individuals involved in residential facilities have a higher risk, traffickers are looking to exploit any and all vulnerabilities such as the desire to be a social media influencer or fulfill basic needs like a safe place to live and food. Sex trafficking does not discriminate against any age, race, gender, or background. 

Myth: Sex trafficking doesn’t happen in Hawaii, and if it does, it only happens late at night in strip clubs and areas of high crime and poverty. 

Fact: Sex trafficking can happen anywhere, even in affluent white neighborhoods. The average age of first exploitation in the state of Hawaii is 11 years old compared to the national average age of 14 years. On Hawaii Island, the average is 8 years old. 64% of sex trafficking victims have identified as being all or part Native Hawaiian. No area or population is explicitly immune from sex trafficking. 

How Can You Help?

It’s vital to be proactive in understanding and recognizing the signs of sex trafficking. Engage in open conversations with your children about their relationships and the importance of safe boundaries. Educate yourself through resources like Ho’ōla Nā Pua’s webinars and stay informed about local sex trafficking legislation.

Ho’ōla Nā Pua & Pearl Haven programs are committed to offering support and training to recognize the signs of sex trafficking and provide trauma-informed care to survivors of all genders. By hosting community presentations and creating safe spaces for open dialogue, we can collectively fight against sex trafficking and protect our communities.

Together, we can challenge these myths and contribute to a world where everyone is safe from exploitation. Join us in our mission to educate, support, and empower those affected by sex trafficking.

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