Sex Trafficking


Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion or when the person performing the sex acts has not yet reached the age of 18.

The Victims

  • Youth who are most vulnerable to sexual exploitation generally have a difficult family life, and overwhelmingly have histories of trauma including child sexual abuse, physical abuse, homelessness, poverty, etc. Youth who are in foster care or homeless are susceptible to falling prey to pimps and traffickers who fulfill their basic needs. Youth then fall into exploitive situations which can include being sold online, out of hotel rooms, on the street, and in various other locations. Commercial sexual exploitation is psychologically damaging and youth are often exposed to severe levels of violence.
  • Adult survivors of trafficking come from all different backgrounds and geographic areas. They are deceived or forced to work in illicit massage parlors and strip clubs which often leads to sexual exploitation, as well as other forms of labor trafficking.

The Forms

Although domestic violence and sex trafficking are different forms of victimizations, there are similarities and intersections between these types of violence.

  • Power and Control: Both batterers and traffickers use power and control to dominate their victims, and the range of tactics used by traffickers resembles that of domestic violence perpetrators. Common tactics include isolation, minimization and normalization of sex acts, physical and emotional violence, sexual abuse and exploitation, financial abuse, threats to family members, use of children to manipulate and control their victims, withholding of food, sleep, and medical care, among others.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Many victims of human trafficking experience Stockholm Syndrome, which is when a trauma-bond develops between the victim and his/her trafficker. Traffickers often use kindness and flattery to encourage a level of trust between themselves and their victims, and create the impression of a caring and loving relationship. This phenomenon is not uncommon in domestic violence situations, which helps to explain why survivors often return to their abusers before successfully fleeing a violent relationship.

Why South Dakota?

South Dakota is a hot spot for men coming to the state for hunting, the Sturgis Bike Rally, and other tourism events and destinations. Traffickers routinely use casinos, truck stops, the internet and other venues throughout the year.

According to several news reports, sex trafficking is an “infestation” in the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota which have several “Man Camps”. There is also great concern of the large increase of registered sex offenders who relocated to the Bakken oil region to work.

Native women and children on the reservations are also at high risk. According to the U.S. Attorney for South Dakota, Kevin Koliner, Native women comprise 40 perscent of sex trafficking victims in the state.

Interstates 90 & 29, and other highways that run through South Dakota, are part of the “Midwest Pipeline,” the superhighways used to deliver trafficking victims to cities across the country.



South Dakota’s West River Human Trafficking Task Force exists as a collaboration of diverse organizations and individuals connected to combat the issue of trafficking in persons, by raising awareness, providing information and education, advocating for prosecution of offenders and supporting human trafficking victims and survivors.


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