Sex Trafficking Recovery


Human trafficking affects every country in the world, according to the United Nations, and while it may seem like it can’t happen in your neighborhood or city, it can and it is.

Sex Trafficking Statistics

One of the difficult issues around sex trafficking is that there’s a normalization of sexual assault and rape.

An estimated 400,000 people are currently living in modern day slavery in the United States, with 71% of those forced to participate in domestic sex trafficking. If that’s not bad enough, the vast majority of victims are women and many of them minors. In 2017, the average age of sex trafficking victims in the US was 15 years old, but children as young as three month-old have been victimized, according to Unitas’ Human Trafficking 101 fact sheet.

Estimates suggest that about 50,000 people are trafficked into the US each year, most often from Mexico and the Philippines, according to, and reports indicate that a large number of child sex trafficking survivors in the US were at one time in the foster care system. The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the US is 12 to 14 years old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children, according to “Human Trafficking Within and Into The United States: A Review of the Literature.”

Sex Trafficking-Related Health Issues:

  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Physical abuse or torture
  • Substance abuse problems of addictions (victims are sometimes given drugs to keep them in compliance or dependent)
  • Psychological trauma from daily mental abuse and torture
  • Mental health issues including depression, stress-related disorders, panic attacks, confusion, disorientation and phobias
  • Feelings of helplessness, shame, humiliation, shock, denial or disbelief
  • Intimacy issues

This abuse leaves lasting emotional scars. We see domestic sex trafficking victims and human trafficking victims at Willow House, and fortunately we’re able to help them work through the extreme trauma they’ve experienced. There are often drug and alcohol addiction connected to domestic sex trafficking, and toxic relationships play a role as well. Once we start to unravel all of those interconnected pieces and they begin to heal, these women can make healthier choices for their future.

One of the difficult issues around sex trafficking is that there’s a normalization of sexual assault and rape. When patients are told, “Oh, that’s rape” or “You didn’t consent to that,” it’s mind-blowing for them because they’ve never thought about it like that. It’s important to remember that when someone is in human trafficking or domestic sex trafficking they learn to put on a mask that keeps them completely disconnected from who they are in order to be able to get through those actions.

Overcoming Sex Trafficking

This type of victimization can cause women to become disconnected from the world around them and unable to see themselves as victims. Healing happens as we work with them to help them see that what was done to them is not okay, and it’s not normal. As a result, most of our patients leave our program and decide not to reengage in that lifestyle.

We Can Help at Willow House

If you are a victim of sex trafficking, there is hope. With proper care, individuals can enjoy a life of purpose and joy. Willow House’s women-only atmosphere allows patients to drop the façade of being okay and invites them to work through the shame, pain, and trauma. In a safe and nurturing community composed of their peers, women are guided on their journey of recovery.

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