Sex violence in the family and human trafficking in America
PERSONAL IMPORTANCE AS A POET
• I am an activist poet who exposes social problems through an
emotional pull through imagery and the discussion of difficult topics.
• An emotional pull gives the audience the potential to remember a topic
they would have otherwise ignored or forgotten.
• Audience has to make a choice—stay or leave. Either way they will
probably think about the topic later.
• Hopefully thinking about it will inspire social change that begins with
the first step—awareness. (we cannot change something if we are
unaware that it needs to be changed)
WHY THIS IS A SOCIAL PROBLEM
• Statistics for both sex trafficking and sexual violence both in the family
and outside of it are not always accurate for several reasons.
• First of all, many of the victims of both atrocities are unable to step up and
• They could be shamed into believing that speaking out makes them
appear as though they wanted it all along
• They may also be threatened or abused to prevent them from doing so
• Secondly, how many people are willing to admit that they participate in
either promoting sex trafficking or having sex with a victim of trafficking?
• Since so many instances of rape, abuse, and incest are not reported, the
statistics are not able to accurately represent how staggeringly horrific this
WHAT IS SEX VIOLENCE?
My marriage and the family textbook defined sex abuse as a type of
maltreatment that involves the child in sexual activity to provide sexual
gratification or financial benefit to the perpetrator. It includes making a
child watch sexual acts, fondling a child’s genitals, engaging the child in
prostitution, committing statutory rape (having sexual intercourse with a
minor), forcing a child to engage in sexual acts for photographic or filmed
pornography, and engaging in incest. This category also includes sexual
assault on a child by a relative or stranger
• The media portrays
sexual abuse typically
happening to victims
through a stranger, but
the fact is “90% of all
these offenses are
perpetrated by family
members, friends of
the family, and other
persons the child
• If a person does not
fight back they just
wanted it anyway, so it
really wasn’t abuse
COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SEX ABUSE
COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SEX ABUSE
• Most rapes occur from black or Latino men. The truth is most rapes occur
with the predator being of the same race as the victim. This misconception
only perpetuates racial problems and stereotypes
• Many people think that these crimes are punished by incarceration, but the
truth is many offenders are rarely charged or imprisoned, largely because a
child’s testimony is seldom accepted as evidence of incest. In addition, solid
physical evidence is rarely available because the event is not reported and
investigated quickly enough.
• Some people believe that most children would report to their parents if they
were being abused. In fact some sources suggest that only 3% of children
report sexual abuse and 12% report rape to the police. These numbers are
staggering, but much of the reason for this lies behind the fact that abusers
tend to make the victim feel as though the victims themselves were the
cause of the abuse, not the other way around. (Misplaced guilt)
WHY DO PEOPLE RAPE?
• A sense of power over someone else—and this power may make a child
afraid to tell their guardian or parent about the situation. The child may feel
threatened to stay silent, afraid they or someone they love may become
injured if they tell. Predators often use their power to their advantage to keep
their victims quiet.
• One textbook suggests that poverty is “the single best predictor of child
abuse and neglect. Most poor parents aren’t abusers, but children from poor
families are 22 times more likely than children from higher incomes to be
abused or neglected.” The reason for this statistic is that those who have
money may be able to hide the abuse, but also those who are poor have
more social stresses which may bring about the abuse.
• The benefits for the predator often outweigh the cost. Since so many rapists
do not get caught for their crimes, they can have their cake and eat it too, so
to speak. With the statue of limitations placed on the time someone is able to
report a rape, many get away with it because the victim is too afraid to speak
up right away.
SOME SEXUAL ABUSE STATISTICS
According to victimsofcrime.org:
1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse;
Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult
males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident;
During a one-year period in the U.S., 16% of youth ages 14 to 17 had been
Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been
Children are most vulnerable to CSA between the ages of 7 and 13. (That’s
2nd grade to 7th or 8th grade)
WHAT IS SEX TRAFFICKING
According to the book Sexual Enslavement of Women and Girls Worldwide
“The term 'trafficking' does not adequately describe its central feature: the denial of
freedom to an individual. The term implies some kind of movement rather than the
loss of liberty and agency for the women used for sexual exploitation. The
unpunished violence, probability of death, loss of freedom of movement, and
transfer between owners/masters for money or good without informed consent
certainly meet the criteria for slavery. Quite simply trafficking turns human beings
• https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGsEmKDqDt4 start at 2:59 stop at
DEFINITION OF TRAFFICKING
According to the U.S Department of State, if even ONE of these conditions
are met, trafficking has occurred:
Process Way/means Goals
Recruitment Threat Prostitution
Transportation Coercion Pornography
Transferring Abduction violence/sex
Harboring Fraud Forced labor
Receiving Deception Debt bondage
Abuse of power
COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT
• Sex trafficking is the same thing as human smuggling. While sex
trafficking may encompass transporting someone illegal into the
country for use, it is not a necessary component of sex trafficking and
does not always happen. (There are a lot of prostitutes that are pushed
into the business in America and then cannot get out)
• Sex trafficking only happens overseas or abroad. The truth is, many
American girls are just as vulnerable for trafficking as girls in China and
other countries. Many times victims are put into slavery because they
are of low socioeconomic status and are struggling to survive. The
predator may promise them a life of hope if they join them, but when the
victim comes to America, or does what the predator says, they quickly
find out they are being trafficked, and they have no way out.
• There are more slaves in the world today than at any
other point in history. Including the slave trade. Just
because it was abolished here during the Civil War in
America does not mean that it doesn’t still happen.
Nothing will change if we don’t DO SOMETHING.
• The average age of entry into sex slavery in the US is 12-
14 years old. In other countries, children as young as four
are coerced into the business. Virginity is prized, and
they may attempt to present a child repetitively as a virgin
to earn more profits from their sale.
• It has been estimated that there are approximately 27
million slaves world wide
In the United States, because there is such a correlation between child
sexual abuse and child prostitution, a lot of times it might be somebody
who has that ability to figure out which are the vulnerable girls, whether
it’s eighth, ninth, tenth graders. Maybe they have been abused at home.
Maybe they’re willing to run away from—mom has a new boyfriend or
what have you or they might be wrestling with an addiction.
The pimps seem to be able to look at the women around them, look at the
girls around them, find that vulnerability. But then, they basically offer
glamour, a better life, even love. So it’s very similar to what we see with
international trafficking as well. It’s basically they offer hope, and they
deliver with a nightmare.
—Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca, Director, Office to Monitor and
Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. State Department
WHERE DOES SEX TRAFFICKING HAPPEN IN
Some of the most common places I found were:
• Massage parlors (usually Asian women are put in brothels in the back.
Since the parlor pays taxes and runs like a normal business in the
front, sometimes the government is unaware of these activities)
• With the creation of Craigslist and other websites, unwanted sexual
exploitation has become an even grater problem
• Not all prostitutes or strippers want to be in the business. This is when
sex trafficking happens. Many of them are tricked into the business
when they come from other countries, or they are forced into staying
because of financial obligations and fear.
….and these are just three ways. There are many, many more.
We live in a strong media-hungry culture where the dehumanization of both
women and men, nudity, and public displays of sexuality are
acceptable. Constantly being exposed to these images and concepts
allows for increased acceptability of these actions, almost propelling
the idea that these fantasies are normal, and acting upon them is
basically just a human reaction to our stimuli.
• This study was conducted in Italy in three different parts. The first study
was conducted to show that “only female sexual objectification is
dehumanizing and that both male and female participants engage in the
• The study was published in 2011
• First study:
• 173 participants (87 female, 86 male) all heterosexual
• All native-speaking Italians ranging from 18-32 years old
• Third study:
• 80 heterosexual male and female participants
• 19-30 years old
Those who participated in the first study were asked to take a SC-IAT
test, which is measures someone’s hidden prejudices and emotions. It
is divided into four test blocks, the first block asking participants to
press the animal key or the human key to categorize the photos
presented. Half of the participants saw only male photos, the other half
only saw female photos.
In the third study, each participant was presented a photo of a woman and
her information on her degree, interests, and extra-curricular activities.
Participants then were presented a sex prime with some being control
words such as wood, wave, water, etc and another group that contained
a slightly sexual meaning. Participants then judged five female target
photos and for each photo were asked to rate them on a 7 pt Likert
scale on how sexy, arousing, beautiful, vulgar, superficial the woman
was. Afterwards, another SC-IAT test was performed.
• When the first study is combined with the second one, “these findings
insinuate that when a sex goal is activated, men tend to focus on a
woman’s appearance and her sexual functions.”
• Different studies mentioned in this article have shown that when a sex
goal is activated in a man, they tend to behave more aggressively.
Objectification: “when objectified, women are treated as bodies that exist
for the use or consumption of others, stripped of their individuality and
Dehumanization: “involves viewing others as less than human.” It’s almost
an animalistic viewpoint towards certain humans.
SC-IAT test: A psychological test used to study hidden prejudices against a
group of people by using a single category topic—such as prejudice
against homosexuals, for instance. Usually the test is performed at a
computer, where a photo is presented and two word are located at the
top corners of the screen. The participant selects the word they
associate with the photo, therefore testing the subject’s association
with a concept to the words presented.
Sex goal: while the study does not indicate what this means, it could be
assumed it is the suggestion of sex before viewing dehumanizing
photos in the study.
Feminist theories: Theoretical perspective that analyzes socially
constructed expectations based on variable such as gender roles, social
class, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation
Ecological Theory: examines how a family influences and is influenced by
Social Learning Theory: A theory that suggests that people learn
attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors through social interaction; learning is the
result of reinforcement, imitation, and modeling.
WHY THESE THEORIES WORK
When all three of these theories are combined and compared with the
findings of the first and third studies some things can be further
1. The third study mentioned that with the sex goal initiated, men felt more
aggressive after seeing the dehumanized photos of women. Some web
definitions of the word aggressive are:
--a feeling of hostility that arouses feelings of attack
--violent action that is hostile and is usually unprovoked
--deliberately unfriendly behavior
WHY THESE THEORIES WORK
2. Our media is pumped full of dehumanized photos of women. They are present
in music videos, magazines, and billboards, nearly everywhere. And while the
media isn’t the only cause for sex violence, the connection made in the study
between aggressiveness and dehumanized women makes it clear that
constantly being exposed to these concepts allows for rape to become more
3. If rape is belittled as being something second nature or as a reaction to a
woman wearing a teeny dress and high heels, it takes the blame away from
the man and sometimes wrongfully placing the blame solely on the woman for
the man’s response.
WHAT IS RESULT OF THIS STUDY
• We live in a predominantly acceptable rape culture.
• Definition of rape culture:
• “Rape culture is a term used within women's studies and feminism,
describing a culture in which rape and other sexual violence (usually
against women) are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms,
practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or encourage
sexualized violence. Examples of behaviors commonly associated with
rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectifying, and trivializing
• A rape culture almost makes sex violence seem natural, and that any fantasy a
person has should be able to be acted out. It makes women out to be objects
rather than people, and opens the doors for the dehumanization of those on
WHY A RAPE CULTURE IS NOT OKAY
• Men are sometimes not held responsible for their actions, because “she
• Women can become constantly fearful of the possibility of being raped
or being victimized.
• With the introduction of sexualized violence, as talked about previously
in this class, the weak and young are more susceptible to being preyed
on because they are easy targets.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
• Raise awareness for both sex trafficking and rape for child and women.
When we speak out we inspire others to DO SOMETHING about the
problems at hand.
• Women should join up with someone they trust when going to bars or
walking around in a city at night. Carry pepper spray, learn self
defense, and protect yourself. There is no reason to be afraid, but a little
preparation never hurt anyone.
• Teach your children that is okay to speak up if they feel uncomfortable
with something an adult is doing to them and BELIEVE them.
• If you suspect trafficking is happening in your area, report it.
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY
• The reasons behind why there is the potential for detrimental
consequences when a man is sexually attracted to a woman. The study
suggests that “one possibility could be found in the complex link
between power, sex, and aggression.”
• If differences in brain structure is an attribute to why men are more likely
to be the aggressor and women are more likely to be the victim.