A 14-year-old girl named “Mia” was excited when she started dating a boy who told her he was 19. She had always been a little insecure, and being able to talk to her friends at school about this cute older boy she met at the movie theater made her feel special.
He showered her with attention and gifts, and for the first few months, everything seemed perfect. Then he started to ask her to send him nude pictures. She said no, but he kept asking, sometimes jokingly and sometimes telling her that if she really loved him, she would trust him and send him the pictures. Eventually she did.
What happened next was tragic.
The young man, who in reality was much older than 19, sexually extorted Mia. He told her if she didn’t have sex with him, he would show the pictures to her parents and everyone at school. Then he told her, she needed to have sex with his friends, and eventually with strangers.
Mia was sexually trafficked for three months by this man—even while she still went to school and slept in her own bed. But repeatedly, her body was being sold for his profit.
What started as pornographic photos of an underage girl eventually led to sexual extortion and trafficking. Without a doubt, the young man was likely inspired by internet pornography which often promotes these exploitative themes. That’s why stopping pornography, a motivating factor and catalyst for further abuse, is a top priority for us.
Mia’s story illustrates why the National Center on Sexual Exploitation firmly believes that if we want to solve a particular form of sexual exploitation and abuse, we must recognize and understand the connections between them all.
All too often people see these harms as merely distinct forms of sexual abuse existing their own unique vacuums, but as Mia’s story aptly illustrates, in actuality, they overlap and reinforce one another.