What is sexual exploitation and sex trafficking?

If you are being forced to have sex so that someone else can profit from the sale of your body, you are a victim of a crime called human trafficking. If this is happening to you and you are under 18, this is called the “commercial sexual exploitation of children” and it is a crime, too. A person of any age who is being forced to perform sexual acts for someone else’s profit is being exploited.

Human trafficking and sexual exploitation happens to people of all ages and genders. Under the law, you do not have to prove you were tricked or violently forced into sexual exploitation to be considered a victim of human trafficking.

How do you know if you are being sexually exploited? If any of these things describe what’s going on in your life, please seek help from someone you trust or from one of the resources we have listed below.

  • exchanging sex (oral, anal, hand jobs or other sexual acts) for money
  • exchanging sex for stuff (food, clothes, shelter, protection, drugs, or other goods)
  • doing nude modeling, pornography, fetish work, erotic massages, or live chats for money, shelter, or material things
  • being asked by your friend or partner to have sex or perform sexual acts with others for money
  • being forced by your mom, dad, family member, foster parent, probation officer, social worker, teacher, or anyone else in your life to perform sexual acts for money or material things

If you are not sure if you are being sexually exploited or if you suspect that someone you know is being sexually exploited, please get help. Talk to an adult that you trust and contact one of the hotlines below. They will connect you to help, so that you or the person who is being exploited can get the help and support that they need to regain their freedom.

Where to Start:

  • DCFS hotline: 1.800.540.4000
  • Saving Innocence: 1.323.379.4232
  • Children of the Night: 1.800.551.1300
  • National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1.888.373.7888 or
  • Text INFO or HELP to BeFree (233733) – 24/7
  • Los Angeles Human Trafficking Hotline:  888-539-2373