Barb’s first post shares her story of how she became involved in rescuing young girls and women from sex trafficking. She also discusses “the Church’s dark little secret.” Don’t miss her gripping story of real girls and women starting with God’s answer to her question, “What can I do about this enormous problem, little old me?”

Pornography is essential and integral to the sex-trafficking industry. I know this is a difficult thought to grasp. I often see the doubt and questions on people’s faces when I am speaking about this and say, “If you’re watching pornography, you’re contributing to the sex-trafficking market.” I spoke recently at a youth conference, one young man couldn’t keep his thoughts to himself and began debating the issue, with really good questions.

“After all, don’t all porn stars want to do it?”

“They get paid, right?”

“They aren’t really forced to do it, are they?”

But the answers may surprise you.

Because they surprised me.

Pornography’s Link to Trafficking, According to the Law

According to the Human Trafficking Search, almost half (49%) of sex-trafficking survivors are forced into pornography production. In addition, 80% of sex-trafficking survivors report that customers show them pornography to illustrate what they want. Traffickers use pornography to train their victims as to what customers want. As I’ve worked with the children in Cambodia and in the States, I hear these same stories. In Cambodia traffickers begin grooming children as young as three and four years old by forcing them to watch pornography in order to desensitize them to the sex act. When I’ve been in the States I’ve talked with young women who were forced to participate in pornography filming and production. One young girl who was sold by her family members told me that while her friends were playing and having fun on their spring breaks, she was starring in porn films.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act defines sex-trafficking as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.” The U.S. State Department defines a commercial sex act as “any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.” Based on this definition, the porn industry qualifies as a commercial sex act, and therefore is included in the definition of sex-trafficking. And those who have been involved in the industry share that they don’t always know what they’re agreeing to and are physically and emotionally abused in the process. One young woman tells the horrors of what she experienced as a porn victim sold by her husband—being tied up against her will, rape, disease, abuse, manipulation, drug abuse and violence.

Traffickers force victims into the porn industry for primarily three reasons.

  • Psychological control
  • Financial gain
  • Keeping women compliant

First is psychological control. Once the film is made and distributed online, it never goes away. The victim can now be coerced, blackmailed and manipulated to continue in the life out of fear, shame and humiliation. Financial gain is another reason. Human trafficking is more lucrative than drug or weapon trafficking because you can sell the person over and over again. But the pornography industry is worldwide and is estimated to yield 97+ billion dollars annually. Forcing their victims into the porn industry as well as the sex-trade increases the trafficker’s per-person profit at the victim’s expense. And third, traffickers use pornography as a way to keep women submissive and afraid due to the violence and abuse they experience and witness. Actually, pornography by nature promotes violence against women, something the victim comes to expect when they don’t comply.

The Dark Secret Happening Amongst Us

Pornography’s Link to Trafficking, According to the Experts

Dr. Gail Dines, a professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College and the leading academic expert studying the effects of pornography says that,

“Porn is the key ingredient in the demand for sex-trafficking. The biggest educator of men today is pornography, which is increasingly violent and dehumanizing and it changes the way men view women—they are being socialized by culture to lose all empathy for women.”

A study published in 2015 analyzed 22 separate studies from seven countries on the correlation between pornography and sexually aggressive behaviour between 1978 and 2014. They found that the consumption of pornography was directly related to increased sexually aggressive acts both verbally and physically. And this study has been replicated by others. Watching pornography devalues and damages our view of sex, men, women and children, and promotes sexual violence against others.

Another expert, Catherine MacKinon, a professor at Harvard Law School says that,

“Consuming pornography is an experience of bought sex and thus it creates a hunger to continue to purchase and objectify and act out what is seen. And in a very literal way, pornography is advertising for trafficking. Not just in general but also in the sense that traffickers and pimps use pornographic images of victims as specific advertising for their products.”

There are millions of women and children who are counting on you, on us all, to rescue them.

So the question is,

What are you going to do?

Now that you know.


  1. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Trafficking
  2. Federal Anti-Trafficking Laws
  3. The Connections Between Pornography and Sex Trafficking
  4. Want to Stop Sex Trafficking? Look to America’s Porn Addiction

Related Topics:

The Connection Between Sex Trafficking and Pornography

Connecting the Dots Between Sex Trafficking and Pornography

My Husband Sold Me into Porn

Pornography, Prostitution, Sex Trafficking and the Subjecthood of Women

Human Trafficking and Pornography

Disturbing Link Between Porn and Sex Crimes

Need Help?

Fortify Program – a free program for teens to overcome pornography use and addiction

Covenant Eyes – filtering software and accountability program

FamilyLife Canada – resources for anyone struggling with pornography

Editor's Note:

We know this can be a challenging issue. We have mentoring available for you. Mentoring is a chance to ask your questions in a safe and private place. All mentoring happens by email.
Talk to a Mentor

There is Hope:

There are many organizations involved with the rescue of women and children from the bonds of sex trafficking. Some were listed in the article but we want to give you a few more in case you want to help. There are a number of ways to support each of these organizations.

International Justice Mission – IJM is a global organization that protects the poor from violence in the developing world. Their global team includes more than 750 lawyers, investigators, social workers, community activists and other professionals at work through 17 field offices.

a21 – a21 exists to abolish injustice in the 21st century. They are a non-profit organization who believe that together, we can end human trafficking.

Tiny Hands International – Tiny Hands works in three ways to combat human trafficking; data collection and analysis, prosecutions, and intelligence led investigations. They believe that the prosecution of traffickers is one of the most important ways to fight trafficking.

Written by Barbara Wilson Psy.D.

Barbara Wilson Psy.D.

Dr. Barbara Wilson is an author, Dr. of Clinical Psychology, licensed Clinical Psychologist. She is also the founder of Freedom Bound Communications, an organization that brings healing and hope to those with a painful sexual past. She speaks internationally to youth and adults with her message of sexual bonding and healing. Released from a past of her own, Barbara combines neuroscience and Scripture, with her own story of healing to explain what sexual bonding is and how to move freely into your future in her books, The Invisible Bond: How to Break Free From Your Sexual Past and Kiss Me Again; Restoring Lost Intimacy In Marriage. Dr. Wilson’s study guide, Free, Finding Freedom and Healing from your Past, available in women’s, men’s and young women versions, is being used locally and nationally to walk men and women through an empirically-based, trauma-focused approach for healing from past abuse, sexual trauma and destructive relationships. You can view or purchase any of her books here. Barbara and her husband have been married over 30 years.