You may think slavery ended after the Civil War. Think again. There are more slaves now than at any time in history.

Today's slaves are forced into labor, service or sex slavery to make money for their exploiters.  You see, the same people who traffic drugs and weapons realize that selling people is more profitable and less risky. People can be sold repeatedly. In the case of a sex slave, that might be 10, 20 or more times a day. In labor slavery, goods and services are continually produced without compensating the laborer.



The majority of survivors we encounter are those in sex slavery.


Slavery is involuntary servitude. The legal definition defines Human Trafficking, or Trafficking in Persons (TIP), below.

  • An ACT or attempted act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving a person by means of force, abduction, fraud, coercion, purchase, sale, threats, abuse of power for the purpose of exploitation.

Basically, for an adult, force, fraud or coercion must be present. 


ANY minor used in commercial sex is legally a human trafficking victim.

If a victim is a minor and used in commercial sex of any kind including stripping, pornography and/or prostitution, they are legally severe victims of human trafficking. Commercial sex means that the sexual acts are given in exchange for something of value. That "item of value" may be money, or simply a sandwich or a couch to sleep on for the night for a runaway. The majority of child sex trafficking victims are US citizens.

In 2006, Shared Hope International received a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to perform field research on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking - the sex trafficking of American children. Here's a quote from that report:

"American children are victims of sex trafficking within the United States. Domestic child victims tend to be easy targets and carry less risk for the traffickers and buyers than adults and foreign nationals. As transportation of human trafficking victims across borders becomes increasingly difficult and dangerous the trend is to target children here in the US."

Minors make a lot more money for their traffickers than older girls do. 

According to a report released by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, out of the runaways actually reported each year in Tennessee, about 1000 are trafficked. Virtually all trafficked youth have been abused and /or traumatized prior to their trafficking.



The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines labor trafficking as: "The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery."

There are three types of labor trafficking:

1.     Bonded Labor
Bonded labor is the result of labor being demanded as repayment for loans or services when the terms of these loans or services have not been clearly defined, OR when the value of the labor is not reasonably applied to the amount owed. Bonded labor happens when labor worth more than the initial value of the loan or service provided is demanded.

2.     Forced Labor
Forced labor occurs when victims are forced to work against their will. Victims are denied freedom and ownership is exerted over them. This forced servitude is enforced by threat of violence or other types of punishment. In the US, forced labor is common in the following industries:

  • Agriculture & Farms
  • Domestic Work
  • Hostess & Strip Clubs
  • Restaurants & Food Service
  • Factories
  • Peddling & Begging Rings
  • Hospitality Industry

3.     Child Labor
Child labor is work that may be hazardous to a child's health, or his/her development physically, mentally, spiritually, morally, or socially, or that could interfere with his/her education.

(Information gathered from the Department of Health & Human Services' "Labor Trafficking Fact Sheet.")

Learn More 

Tennessee Human Trafficking In the News  

Tennessee Case Map