The criminal justice system can serve as both an on ramp to and an off ramp from sexual exploitation. To minimize on ramps and maximize off ramps, we must first understand the complex nature of sex trafficking and exploitation. Traffickers prey upon vulnerabilities that are often historic and systemic in nature. They use a variety of tactics designed to ensure that victims will do what they are told without resistance, questioning, or disclosure to law enforcement. This physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual control over victims too often allows traffickers to escape accountability. This presentation is designed to improve our understanding of what it is like to be sexually exploited and to illustrate how we can improve our response to victims, who often do not see the criminal justice system as a viable off ramp from “the Life”.
The presenters bring their lived and professional experience to this presentation, which will focus on factors that impact entry into “the Life”, the realities of sexual exploitation and trafficking, and the factors that impede or delay exits. The presentation will provide criminal justice professionals with tools for identifying individuals vulnerable to exploitation, limiting on-ramps, and providing viable off-ramps to achieve justice for survivors.