What Is Familial Trafficking?

People who are aware of sex trafficking probably know that victims may be recruited online or by kidnapping, which is rare. Fewer people are aware of familial trafficking.

Even so, familial trafficking is a big issue, and some populations have historically been particularly vulnerable to it.

Familial sex trafficking happens when traffickers trade family members for sex in return for money, drugs, or something else of value. Children are the most frequent victims of this crime.

Familial Sex Trafficking—The High Cost of History | Psychology Today

In a recent study, 64% of these traffickers were mothers, who were assisted by a nonrelative trafficker, and in 82% of these cases, drugs were the currency used to profit from the exchange2.  Unfortunately, poverty, socio-environmental stressors, and the opioid epidemic have created an environment of desperation in many Kentucky families, leaving some children/youth vulnerable to this form of sexual exploitation.

Familial sex trafficking is uniquely harmful to those affected.  Commercial sexual exploitation by an adult family member violates a most sacred trust, especially when it breaches the parent-child relationship. Children have a reasonable expectation of care, protection and security by their caregivers and a shattering of these assumptions can have profound effects on one’s health, well-being and relationships throughout their lives.

….. This traumatic stress condition is characterized by the standard features of PTSD (re-experiencing, avoidance, alterations in cognitions and mood, alterations in reactivity and arousal), along with significant affective disturbance, negative self-concept and chronic, interpersonal and relational problems .

For sex trafficking victims, high rates of suicidality, self-harming behavior, dissociation and sleep disturbance may be present2.  These harms may not just be related to the sexual nature of the offense, as higher rates of disturbances have been noted in sex trafficking victims, compared to those who have been sexually abused 5. This suggests that involvement in sex trafficking inflicts harms over and above those imposed by sexual abuse alone.

Familial Sex Trafficking: Victims Hiding in Plain Sight – Face It (faceitabuse.org)

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