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Methods of Definition: What Is Sex Trafficking?
How do you define "sex trafficking"? We learn together to nourish community dialogue by asking gentle, respectful questions -- and listening.
Have you ever been asked how to define “sex trafficking”?
Trafficking organizations have intentionally created contention, confusion, and conflation around this question.
Many people don’t know how to use this phrase most helpfully in order to identify and relieve suffering in their communities.
Many people have experienced being unheard when raising awareness of dangers in the community, and many people — yes, it’s true — have been targeted with false accusations to manipulate social energy flows.
The result is terrible damage, chaos, and life-ending pain for not only trafficking survivors, but also for those who would otherwise respect and help trafficking survivors, invisibly destroying individual and collective well-being.
Gently asking more questions can help us clarify the territory and discern more useful characteristics of a particular situation. All the while, we remain aware of the diverse unique trauma repair languages emerging from situations of violence, the necessity of patiently learning to understand one another, and diligently gather ourselves toward productive community dialogues.
For instance: Can you get away?
If you can’t get away… Why can’t you get away?
What do you require in order to regain safety?
If you can’t get away… Is your body being harmed?
Is your body being respected?
Is your recovery being assisted?
Are your needs recognized and responded to?
If you can’t get away… How are you being treated by those who are closest to you, in relationships of responsibility or care?
While you can’t get away… Who benefits from the entrapment or extraction you’re experiencing?
Is a group or individual acting to hold you in place? Sometimes an individual is acting to cause specific harms and can be identified. But most often, it’s challenging to identify individual perpetrators because trafficking organizations prefer plausible deniability and less immediately identifiable — usually ambient and environmental — means of commoditization. (By the time an individual perpetrator is most identifiable, those being victimized are often in extreme states that will prevent clear verbal or memory access later in the absence of consistent support; and these neurological structures must be carefully repaired in social interactions to stabilize communications before the conversation can fruitfully continue.)
What structural influences are holding you in place? What structural influences are facilitating personal harms? These questions take time, caring, and shared curiosity to answer.
Is harm to your body making someone else money?
Are you being prevented from recovery and self-sovereignty while your body is being commoditized?
Are you being used against other members of your community through coercion, force, or misunderstandings that occur when you try to tell the truth through neurological trauma or other injuries?
When you speak up to relieve suffering and entrapment, is your voice recognized, acknowledged, uplifted, and fully included in conversations related to your well-being?
Does your community collaborate with you to implement solutions for your safety and thriving? Or… does something different happen?
The meanings of these questions and their answers are always invisibly influenced by our environments, as well as by our community relationships.
None of these questions can support a binary conclusion; saying yes or no to a particular question does not mean someone is (or is not) being sex trafficked.
But in order to correctly identify sex trafficking pathways in our environments, especially where organizations have acted to occlude them, these are important questions for all of us to know how to ask.
Where the raised voices of sex trafficking survivors meet others’ fear of false accusations, community members in danger have typically been positioned to create harm by asking for their needs to be met — so that individuals incorrectly identify one another as perpetrators while struggling to keep bodies alive, while navigating severely and invisibly compounded neurological injuries, and while totally failing to recognize the ambient entrainment infrastructure and covert operations that are setting community members against one another.
If this question — what is the definition of sex trafficking? — feels challenging or confrontive, we look to the invisible influences of context and environment.
Many communities have been unknowingly targeted by sex trafficking organizations to change the languaging community members are able to use around the subject of sex trafficking, or prevent these conversations altogether.
Many people have been left with the unsettling sense that “sex trafficking” is being conflated with consensual interactions, and this is indeed the case; operatives may scramble the community conversation with targeted, traumagenic activities, and community members with multi-generational trauma histories (most people, everywhere) often do not realize the supports that are meant to naturally be part of our social environments.
Trafficking organizations by way of colonial imperialist infrastructure and other vectors have stripped natural community relationships from our lives and community spaces, replacing and co-opting our patterns of living and caring with information extraction platforms, ambient entrainment technology, and mechanisms of commercial commodification.
When trafficking organizations target the capacity of a community to stabilize the definition of “sex trafficking” and other potentially contentious terminology, it can be upsetting, scary, and damaging for those being most affected.
When we center relational resonance in our interactions and supportive structures, we have powerful ways to help necessary solutions emerge. In other words: this conversation gets a lot easier when we arrange sufficient support and resourcing for the continuing conversation.
If you ask a survivor of sex trafficking to define “sex trafficking,” you may discover that survivors themselves have typically been targeted with abuse about how to define such a term, with violence-centric programming that what they were (or are) experiencing could never legitimately fall into that category.
(Or, you may be confused or concerned about why a survivor cannot answer your question without patient, consistent social interactions that may not otherwise be at all available to them.)
Absent a truly respectful community conversation, and in the presence (and pressures) of weaponized legal machinery commonly in use to prevent community members from engaging in supported dialogues together, it would not be possible to steady the definition of “sex trafficking” — as we are continually beset by sex trafficking organizations invisibly influencing our community spaces.
Typically, people who would not describe their own traumatic experiences as having been sex trafficked are also targeted — to dismiss or gaslight their own and others’ abuse experiences and to prevent healthful resolutions for all involved. Many people experience harm where sex trafficking survivors are acting in desperation to reach safety, whose languaging is silenced, mischaracterized, misinterpreted, and used against their communities to prevent effective dialogue from occurring.
While establishing our Intuitive community infrastructure over many years, we have found no mainstream legal structures or official health organizations that effectively address these intersections.
For safety and communications to be restored, we must build together what we need.
How do we begin together… relationally?
How do we know one another better, understand one another’s communications, learn how to deeply respect one another, and collaborate to strengthen and safeguard our environments against power players and human trafficking influences?
We most successfully define (and prevent) sex trafficking through awareness practice, environmental stewardship, and caring community relationship-building.