Skip to main content

Victims: Educating on sex, healthy relationships could help stop sex trafficking


A new survey is giving a voice to those who have been victims of sex trafficking.

The report, released Monday by Hennepin County as part of its No Wrong Door initiative to help combat sex trafficking and the Ramsey County Attorney's Office, tells the experiences of more than 70 anonymous survivors and those who worked with them.

Participants, who ranged in age from 12 to 46 years old, shared their opinions on how to prevent sexual exploitation and expressed what they needed as survivors. The hope is their voices will be taken into consideration for future policy changes and initiatives to help sexually exploited youth, the report notes.

Among the things survivors said could help prevent their exploitation and abuse is better sex education in school – including starting education earlier and addressing prostitution – as well as teaching children what it means to be in a healthy relationship.

One anonymous person was quoted in the report saying: "When I was growing up I was barely a teenager and I was hanging out with people, guys much older than me. I never had a father figure in my life. These people we would meet would be older than me and I thought it was love. Now I know it was to fill a void."

They also stressed the importance of the roles family and the community play in preventing sexual exploitation, as well as the need for safe shelters and mentoring programs for victims.

And when it comes to those behind the sex trafficking, people surveyed asked for more prosecution against them, but also encouraged access to therapy for both the people who buy sex, and those who sell victims. One respondent said:

“Maybe to reiterate in their brain the impact they had. Some people just go through life living in a cloud … Even though they know it’s wrong, it’s been somewhere taught to them that it’s okay to do or they justify it in their head. Just like I made it okay to sleep with men because I knew I needed the money. Every part of it was disgusting and I didn’t like it, but I didn’t feel like I had much of a choice.”

Read the entire 43-page report here.

Hennepin and Ramsey counties have been working to combat sex trafficking, especially in the wake of the passage of Minnesota's Safe Harbor Law.

The law went into full effect in 2014 and was used as a model for federal law to combat sex trafficking. It aims to ensure that minors who are sold for sex aren’t viewed as delinquents, but are treated as victims and given assistance through various services across the state.

More than 150 minors sought help for sexual exploitation in the first full year of the program, according to the Safe Harbor First Year Evaluation Overview that was released in November.

At the Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force's quarterly meeting Monday, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput and Assistant Ramsey County Attorney David Pinto said they want tougher sentences for people convicted in sex trafficking cases – including having those who buy sex from minors register as sex offenders, KSTP reports.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates (conservatively) that 100,000 children are exploited for prostitution every year in the U.S., the Women's Foundation of Minnesota says.

Next Up


Vikings place Dalvin Tomlinson on COVID-19/reserve list

The defensive line takes another blow ahead of Sunday's game with the 49ers.


Photos: Tattersall Distillery's new 'destination distillery' in WI

The Minneapolis-based craft spirits manufacturer announced an opening date for its new space.

best buy

Best Buy considering added security to counter organized retail crime

CEO Corie Barry addressed the issue during a Q3 earnings call.

FINNEGANS Caribou image

FINNEGANS, Caribou Coffee team up for charitable MN brew

The Dead Irish Poet stout is now available at liquor stores and bars.

Jiecong Cao

Man charged in sex trafficking bust at Roseville hotel

He has been charged with the promoting of prostitution.

Justin Morneau

5 former Minnesota Twins are on the MLB Hall of Fame ballot

Four were staples on the 2000s teams and the other is the one that got away.

kitchen window minneapolis google street view - crop

Kitchen Window reveals it will close, announces storewide sale

The premium cookware shop has been in business for more than 35 years.

covid, vaccine

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, November 23

The latest info from the state health department.


MN officials help stop a 'sophisticated' global sex trafficking scheme

At least two Minnesotans were charged in the "highly sophisticated sex trafficking scheme."