, 13 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
Sex trafficking doesn’t look the way most of you think it does.
A while back I was working on a piece about how sex workers are the best equipped to do anti-trafficking work — a piece which, I am sad to say, got killed — and I spoke with several trafficking survivors whose stories were nothing like many of you would expect.
Everyone thinks it’s some Taken-style network of kidnappers locking women up in basements and forcing them to fuck and... while I’m not going to say that *never* happens, it is very likely not the most common form of trafficking.
You know what trafficking often looks like? It looks like an abusive relationship where the victim is forced by their abuser to sell sex for money and give the money to their abuser. That abuser is, in many cases, known to them: a parent, a partner, a friend.
The standard narrative is that trafficking is difficult to escape because you’re being held at gunpoint and someone has stolen your passport and locked you away. And again, I’m not going to say that that *never* happens (certainly, it could even happen in the situations above!).
But, just like every other abusive relationship, trafficking can also be difficult to escape because you are financially reliant on your trafficker, because leaving them is socially difficult, because — yes — in spite of the harm they are causing you, you love them.
The other reason it is helpful to thinking of trafficking as a kind of abusive relationship is because, just like every other abusive relationship, sometimes leaving it the first time is not enough. Without the right support, it is easy to get retrafficked.
And, well, most trafficking “rescue” groups do not provide the right support. They’re more interested in a dramatic rescue that doesn’t address any of the structural issues that leave someone vulnerable to being trafficked.
I suppose if you are a trafficking victim who was kidnapped and locked in a basement then yeah, all you really need is to be rescued and returned to your regular life (well that + extensive trauma-focused therapy).
But if your trafficking is baked to the structure of your life and relationships than “rescue” ceases to make sense. Without addressing the broad and complicated circumstances that made someone vulnerable to trafficking, you haven’t fixed their problem.
Also, one final note: although trafficking is emphatically not sex work, sex workers can become trafficking victims and trafficking survivors can (and do!) choose to do sex work.

Because in many cases, the work itself is not the issue. It’s the abusive structure of trafficking.
Oh also, for those who don’t get it: PEOPLE OF ALL GENDERS CAN BE TRAFFICKED.
PS Given the response this thread has gotten, seems worth mentioning that if any pub wants to run the piece I wrote that was killed, I’m happy to discuss the possibility; also happy to write something new about how misunderstood trafficking can be.
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