You may think slavery ended after the Civil War. Think again. There are more slaves now than at any time in history. This form of modern day slavery is also known as human trafficking.

Modern day 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 Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines sex trafficking as:

  • Recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of an individual through the means of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of commercial sex

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


ANY minor used in commercial sex of any kind (including stripping, pornography, and/or prostitution) is legally a human trafficking victim

Commercial sex means that the sexual acts are given in exchange for something of value. That "item" may be money, a sandwich, or a couch to sleep on for the night for a runaway. The majority of child sex trafficking victims are US citizens.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.

2.     Forced Labor
Forced labor occurs when victims are forced to work against their will and ownership is exerted over them. It is enforced by threat of violence or other types of punishment. Common in the following U.S. industries: agriculture & farm; domestic work; hostess & strip clubs; restaurants; factories; hospitality; and more.

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