Most studies and resources focus primarily on female victims of sex trafficking, however several organizations are recognizing the growing needs of male victims.
According to a report from anti-trafficking organization ECPAT USA, boys and men often are overlooked because society views them as strong as and less vulnerable than girls and women. Shame and stigma may prevent them from identifying as victims and seeking help.
Boys also often don't see themselves as victims, said Georgia Cady, the program manager for Tumbleweed's human trafficking program in Billings, MT. Tumbleweed started serving victims of sex and labor trafficking through a 2015 grant from the Family and Youth Services Bureau.
"They see it as taking care of themselves," Cady said.
Of the 64 trafficked youth they've served since December, 26 have been male and have experienced both sex and labor trafficking.
"Labor trafficking falls under the radar because we don't think of it as harmful [as sex trafficking]," she said. "But it is. They're still getting beaten, they're still getting food withheld." Youth have been forced to sell magazines or drugs, panhandle for a church, and some have particpated in traveling carnivals.
In August, RestoreOne in North Carolina will open The Anchor House, a living and treatment facility for boys and young men between ages 12 and 18 who have been trafficked, said Restore One co-founder Anna Smith.
Ark of Freedom, a human rights nonprofit in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., uses survivors to connect with and serve young men who have been trafficked.
“Survivor leadership is a key piece we are focusing on right now,” said Ark of Freedom founder Nathan Earl. By building relationships with survivor mentors, the group helps young men meet their basic needs, such as appropriate housing, while exposing them to work and school opportunities.
Organizations that work with this population share tips on how to best serve male victims of sex trafficking.
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