Research builds a short bridge between child sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation of children.

After interviewing twenty-five ex-pimps in Chicago, Jody Raphael and Brenda Myers-Powell report that an “overwhelming majority” claim early childhood physical and sexual abuse influenced their eventual involvement with trafficking.

Survivor and author Holly Austin Smith writes, ““Sexual abuse in childhood is by far the most common predisposing factor I’ve heard mentioned in discussions regarding CSEC within the United States.” (Austin Smith, 2014)

Patricia Murphy cites two studies in her book, Making the Connections, that estimate that between 65-85% of prostituted women were the victims of “childhood rape.” (Murphy, 1993)  In fact, she writes, “Some clinicians estimate this figure to be “nearer to 100 %.”  Many organizations that provide services to child victims of commercial sexual exploitation across the country have confirmed these higher statistics.

What is it about this particular early childhood trauma which predisposes a child to be exploited sexually?  The organization Darkness 2 Light points to these facts when describing the outcomes of CSA:

  • Behavioral problems including physical aggression, non-compliance, oppositionality
  • CSA has been linked to higher levels of risk behaviors
  • Victims of CSA are more likely to be sexually promiscuous
  • A history of CSA significantly increases the chance of dropping out of school
  • Survivors describe intense feelings of shame, guilt, worthlessness and suicidal tendencies

All of these can create a void in children which pimps and traffickers are skilled at exploiting.

While most youth are first prostituted between the ages of 11-14, their sexual exploitation begins  between 6-10 years of age according to survivor Tina Frundt of Courtney’s House.

For all of these reasons and so many more, Protect Me Project urges parents and communities to collaborate in creating safe spaces for children.  Let’s give them options for a bright tomorrow.

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