John Blazey

Director of Partnership & Story, Emmaus

The Invisible Male Victim

  • Other Session
  • October 21 2021 8:00 AM - 11:59 PM

In the United States, sex trafficking began to gain attention after Congress enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. While public awareness of sex trafficking has grown, government, law enforcement, and service providers have almost exclusively focused on sexually exploited women and girls. This response is laudable and necessary, but it neglects a significant population of victims: males. It is the mission of EMMAUS to fill the gap in services for male-identifying victims of sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.

Studies continue to estimate a high percentage of male victims, including a 2008 study that found that up to 50% of minor victims are male. A nationwide study found 36% of youth (14-24 years old) involved in the sex found were male.

The scope of the sex trafficking of males in America is vastly underreported for several reasons. There is an intense stigma surrounding males' victimization, who rarely will admit or even recognize they are victims. In addition, most people--including males themselves--believe males have more agency and cannot be victims. This is reflected in the nearly universal depiction of males as pimps, sex buyers, or willing participants in commercial sex. Even among professionals trained to identify CSE victims, males are rarely screened for victimization or referred for services because risk factors tend to be interpreted differently for males. For example, males often self-harm through violence or are seen as perpetrators (not victims) if they have a record for solicitation. Male victims are a vastly underreported and underserved population.

Objectives from Presentation:
1. Attendees are informed on the empirical data surrounding male victims
2. Attendees to review their policies to determine whether they are inclusive of male survivors
3. For attendee orgs to consider serving male victims.