For the past two decades,[1] efforts to fight the global phenomenon of sex trafficking have long emphasized the need for victim care and recovery, as well as law enforcement measures aimed at arrest and prosecution of sex traffickers. Such efforts have been, and continue to be, invaluable. Countless victims the world over have found paths toward healing, personal autonomy, and wellbeing, because of those who have pioneered victim recovery programs and who have advocated for legal reforms to bring their traffickers to justice.

These approaches, victim services and criminal prosecution of sex traffickers, have addressed two sides of the triangle of activity that comprises sex trafficking—supply (i.e., victims) and distribution (i.e., sex traffickers).[2] The third side of this triangle, demand (i.e., buyers)[3] has received considerably less attention, despite calls to address demand dating to the mid-2000s.[4]

The irony of this situation can scarcely be overstated, since demand is the fulcrum on which all sex trafficking rests. Thus, failure to combat demand guarantees not only the survival of sex trafficking, but also the creation of future generations of victims.

Sex Trafficking: Fulfilling Male Demand in Prostitution Marketplace

The concepts of supply and demand are fundamental building blocks in capitalist economies. Supply represents how much of a particular product the market can offer, and demand refers to how much of a product is desired by potential buyers.[5] In addition to desire for a product, demand hinges on both the potential buyer’s ability and willingness to pay.


When these concepts are applied to the phenomenon of sex trafficking, those who are bought and sold for sex constitute the “supply.” Thus, sex trafficking renders human beings—predominantly women and children, but also men—into commodities in the prostitution marketplace.[6] The prostitution marketplace encompasses any of the various modes by which prostitution is marketed: strip clubs, massage parlors, “escort” services, Internet-based prostitution websites, brothels, as well as pimp-facilitated, street-level prostitution, etc.


In contrast, those who make up the “demand” are the individuals with the desire, along with the ability and willingness, to purchase people in the prostitution marketplace to use for sex. As the driving force fueling the prostitution marketplace, they have been described as the “primary” level of demand. “Without them making the decision to buy sex acts, prostitution [and, ergo, sex trafficking] would not exist.”[7] Those who comprise the demand are overwhelmingly male.

Men who solicit and buy people for sex are often referred as “customers,” “clients,” and “customers.”[8] These terms normalize and obscure the harm of their behavior.[9]

Terms such as “purchasers of sex acts” and “johns”[10] have been utilized as alternatives. These terms are an improvement, but are also problematic.[11] For instance, it has been argued that purchasers of sex acts (sometimes also phrased as “sex buyers”) are not actually purchasing sex, since sex connotes an intimate, mutually desired, and mutually pleasurable sexual exchange. The “sex” purchased in prostitution is certainly not intimate (it is an escape from intimacy), nor is it mutually desired (if it was, payment would not be necessary) and it hinges entirely on the sexual pleasure of the buyer, thus making it inherently impossible to buy authentically human sex.[12] Moreover, terms like “sex buyer,” by placing emphasis on sexual activity, obscure the humanity of those on whom buyers enact and enforce their sexual demands. The term “john” is problematic for its anonymizing effect, as well as the way in which it normalizes the behavior by suggesting that men purchasing people for sex is as common as the name “John.” To date we are not aware of alternative phrasing that adequately encapsulates the behavior and resulting harms that the aforementioned terms attempt to describe. With these shortcomings in mind, terms such as “purchasers of people used for prostitution,” and “sex buyers” will be used throughout the remainder of discussion to follow.


Importantly, sex trafficking exists because the male demand for people to buy for sexual use[13] outstrips the supply of those available for purchase. Since few women and men wish to be bought in exchanges of sex for money, sex traffickers (i.e., distributors of people used for prostitution) step in to provide the supply. In order to secure people to sell in the prostitution marketplace, pimps engage in recruitment, transportation, harboring, provisioning and obtaining, and utilize means of force, fraud, and coercion.[14] Thus, pimps are by definition, sex traffickers and any pimp-controlled person, whether a minor or an adult, is a victim of sex trafficking.


[1] Passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) by the U.S. Congress in 2001, was a watershed moment that led to a groundswell of programs, in the U.S. and abroad, to assist sex trafficking victims, and to improve law enforcement efforts to arrest and prosecute sex traffickers.

[2] Laura J. Lederer, “Addressing Demand: Why and Howe Policymakers Should Utilize Law and Law Enforcement to Target Customers of Commercial Sexual Exploitation,” Regent University Law Review 23, no. 2 (2010):297‒310.

[3] Ibid.

[4] For instance, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2005 contains provisions addressing demand for commercial sex acts in the U.S. and in connection to international sex tourism, as well as other demand-related provisions. Additionally, some NGOs have emphasized combating demand (e.g. Global Centurion, Demand Abolition, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women), but in contrast to the hundreds of groups that have emerged which are dedicated to providing victim services, groups oriented toward demand reduction are very few in number.

[5] See: https://www.investopedia.com/university/economics/economics3.asp (accessed May 30, 2018).

[6] The prostitution marketplace is more commonly referred as “the sex trade” or “commercial sex industry. However, these terms obscure the nature of activity at the core of market, and because the later lends a sheen of normalcy and legitimacy to an inherently exploitive trade, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation advocates for use of prostitution marketplace instead.

[7] Donna M. Hughes, “Best Practices to Address the Demand Side of Sex Trafficking,” (2004), pg. 2. http://www.popcenter.org/problems/trafficked_women/PDFs/Hughes_2004a.pdf (accessed May 30, 2018).

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Lisa L. Thompson, “Chart of Preferred Terminology for Sex Trafficking and Prostitution,” (2016), https://endsexualexploitation.org/wp-content/uploads/Intro-Chart-of-Preferred-Terminology-RVSD-MRG-FN-2016-1.pdf (accessed June 4, 2018).

[12] Lisa L. Thompson, “The Global Supply Chain of Sexual Exploitation and the Necessity of Combating the Demand for Commercial Sex,” in The Freedom from Sexploitation Agenda, Policy Recommendations on Sex Trafficking, Sexual Violence, Child Exploitation, and Pornography, Papers from the National Briefing (Washington, DC: National Center on Sexual Exploitation, March 20, 2017), 50‒62.

[13] Commercial sex acts are any sex acts on account of which anything of value is given or exchanged by any person. In addition to cash, things of value include housing, food, clothing, drugs, or other material goods.

[14] The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 defined a “severe form of sex trafficking” as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provisioning and obtaining, of a person for purposes of commercial sexual exploitation, by means of force, fraud, or coercion.


Congress Strikes Blow against Online Sex Trafficking

At roughly 2:00 AM on a day in 1990, Patrick Trueman, then Chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) at the U.S. Department of Justice, was surprised to find himself stuck in a traffic jam. Where was the long line of vehicles ahead of him going at such an early hour? Into the […]

Citizens Organize to Turn Off the Red Light on Prostitution in Nevada

Citizens against Brothels in Nye County (C.A.B.I.N-C),  the No Little Girl campaign, and the End Trafficking and Prostitution (ETAP PAC) have banded together to place referendums on upcoming election ballots to repeal legal prostitution in Nevada’s Nye and Lyon counties. Organizers are working to collect the necessary signatures to submit the referendum to the Nye […]

Interview: A survivor of sex trafficking during the RNC shares her story

This interview is from Fox8. It was originally published here. CLEVELAND – She is a young mother, forced into sex trafficking and rescued during the biggest event in Cleveland over the summer of 2016 – the Republican National Convention. The survivor was brought downtown to be sold during the RNC, but she was eventually given […]

Resources for Individuals in Commercial Sexual Exploitation

We care about the safety and well-being of those in the sex trade, ie: prostitution, stripping, escorting, pornography, and more. If you or someone you know has been exploited, abused or in other ways victimized, here are some places to find support and help. SexTradeSurvivorResources.com This website hosts a list of resources may be able to […]

Backpage CEO Guilty Plea Portend End to U.S. Sex Trafficking

Statement by Patrick A. Trueman, President & CEO NCOSE Washington, DC – A guilty plea revealed by multiple news sources of Backpage.com CEO Carl Ferrer portends an end to sex trafficking as we know it in America. The U. S. Department of Justice has finally struck at the heart of the world of sex trafficking, […]

Indictment Against Backpage April 2018

On April 6, 2018, it was reported that seven individuals connected to Backpage were arrested and their property seized by the FBI. A federal seizure notice appeared on the website the same day.   Here is a copy of the indictment.   See the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s Press Conference and Rally about the closure […]

Press Conference On Government Seizure and Shutdown of Backpage.com

Press conference and rally regarding the shutdown of Backpage at the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Summit. Survivors, Advocates Celebrate Watershed Moment as Backpage.com is Seized by the Department of Justice Online Press Conference at the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation (CESE) Summit   After years of advocacy by survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and […]

In Our Backyard Tackles Sex Trafficking Demand at SB 52

The anti-human trafficking non-profit, In Our Backyard (IOB) conducted a ten-day advocacy blitz surrounding Super Bowl LII and compiled a comprehensive report detailing their efforts to combat sex trafficking. Working with law enforcement, local leaders, convenience store owners, and generous volunteers, IOB provided viable leads to law enforcement who arrested 94 sex buyers and recovered […]


Nationwide Counselor Finder

“We help you find the support that’s right for you. Using our advanced search process, you can sort for a professional by location, expertise, language spoken, gender, HMO or PPO, and more.”

IITAP: International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals

National database of certified sex addiction therapists who can help both the person struggling and/or the partner of one who struggles.

The Christian Care Network (CCN)

A national referral network of state licensed, certified, and/or properly credentialed Christian counselors offering care that is distinctively Christian and clinically excellent.

International Association of Certified Sex Addiction Specialists (IACSAS)

Our goal is to train and promote those clinicians and church leaders who demonstrate a standard of excellence in training, education, and practice as sexual addiction specialists.  Our vision is to train and equip a growing body of competent Christian counselors worldwide so they will have a transforming impact on the culture.

Clinicians who are certified by the IACSAS have received training, education, and supervision in understanding and treating sexual addiction.  The IACSAS is committed to supporting training opportunities and to conducting research in the field of sexual addiction.

Catholic Therapist Finder

CatholicTherapists.com offers a referral base of qualified Catholic therapists who faithfully adhere to church teaching. They also offer helpful articles, books and audio.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Counselor Finder

A resource to find a local LDS Family Services office for counseling services and advice on selecting a therapist in your community who supports gospel values.

Jewish Child and Family Counseling Services (JCFS)

A resource for the Chicago area to find counselors who support Jewish values.

Muslim Family Services

A resource for the American Muslim community to find counselors with an Islamic perspective.

Addo Recovery

Offers online addiction therapy programs, as well as individual online and in-person therapy. Specializes in betrayal trauma.


Through an innovative and proven three phase treatment program, this intensive outpatient group therapy approach gives participants the resources, support, and structure needed to experience a successful recovery from the damaging effects of pornography and sexually compulsive behaviors.There are treatment programs in nearly 40 Cities across the U.S. and Canada.

New Life Ministries

Individual Christian counselors working for New Life Ministries are located throughout America, and are available as a resource for those struggling with pornography and for the partners or spouses of those struggling with pornography.

New Life Ministries also runs intensive workshops including:

Every Man’s Battle – This three-day workshop is designed to help men who have engaged in pornography, sexual addiction or adultery and help them to get back their sexual integrity.

Intimacy in Marriage – If you want something better than the marriage you have and are ready to experience an astounding richness in your relationship, New Life has designed a life changing weekend to give you the tools to develop a healthy, healing intimacy.

Marriage Solution – A workshop that provides the tools to rejuvenate a good marriage; rescue a marriage in conflict; or restore a marriage broken from betrayal and infidelity.

Women in the Battle – This workshop is designed to help women who have been hurt in relationships with men who are or have been involved in pornography, sexual addiction or adultery.

National Human Trafficking Hotline: Call 1-888-373-7888 ( TTY: 711)|Text 233733


  • Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force at 1-888-428-7581


  • This website hosts a list of resources may be able to help individuals with short-term solutions and a range of emergency services that may be able to help adults involved in the sex trade.

National Human Trafficking Referral Directory

  • The online National Human Trafficking Referral Directory is designed to provide access to critical emergency, transitional, and long-term social services for victims and survivors of human trafficking. The directory also connects individuals with training and technical assistance and opportunities to get involved in their communities.

Polaris Project 

International Justice Mission

  • Human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to secure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, to prosecute perpetrators and to ensure that public justice systems – police, courts and laws – effectively protect the poor.

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

  • Resource center for the public, parents, law enforcement, and others about the issues surrounding the sexual exploitation of children.

Covenant House

  • With locations all over the US, Canada and parts of Latin America, Covenant House works in collaboration with the National Runaway Safeline (NRS) – a crisis care hotline that can provide you with assistance 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Their crisis shelters are open 24 hours a day with the promise of a hot meal, a warm bed and the chance to rebuild your life.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • Services Available to Victims of Human Trafficking –

Your Local Child and Protective Services

Shared Hope International

  • Exists to rescue and restore women and children in crisis


  • Outreach Center directly services women by providing pro bono attorneys, and Certified Life Coaches in Anti-Trafficking; it also provides doctors, psychologists, medical testing and pharmacy services and clothing. The Lifestyle Center provides skill training to get women the much needed day to day life skill trainings and college bound training and job interview and other training.


  • Love146 works toward the abolition of child trafficking and exploitation through Prevention and Aftercare solutions while contributing to a growing abolition movement.

Global Centurion

  • Fighting modern day slavery by addressing demand

Children of the Night

  • Rescuing America’s Children from Prostitution


  • Cherished is a nonprofit organization, comprised of a residential program and social enterprise that is run by survivors of commercialized sexual exploitation, human trafficking, addictions and life on the streets.

The Samaritan Woman

  • A faith-based organization operating transitional and restorative residential programs to women recovering from sex trafficking.


National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE

National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE

National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-2873, 1-800-25ABUSE

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) – anti-sexual violence organization. Lots of resources.

International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies

  • If you’re not in the US, some of these groups might be able to help you.

Male Survivor

  • Overcoming sexual victimization of men and boys

Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

  • International, self-help support group

Life and Family Help Forum for Abuse

Survivors of Incest Anonymous

Sexual Abuse

  • Resources and links to other recovery helps

Support For Partners

  • Resources for partners of those sexually abused as children

Love is Respect

  • For any questions about dating in general or a specific relationship, or if you are in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, you deserve support and resources to help you with your situation. You are not alone; their peer advocates are here for you 24/7.

Child Help

  • Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse

National Organization for Victim’s Assistance 

  • 800-879-6682 (800-TRY-NOVA) 9am-5pm Eastern Time, Monday-Friday
  • Whether you are a survivor of violent crime or dealing with financial crime victimization, we recognize that all victims experience loss.  While there are different kinds of loss, each can be profound, depending upon the perspective of victims and survivors. No one has to right to judge the impact of any given loss in your life.

National Human Trafficking HotlineCall 1-888-373-7888 ( TTY: 711)|Text 233733


We care about the safety and well-being of those in the sex trade, ie: prostitution, stripping, escorting, pornography, etc. This website hosts a list of resources may be able to help individuals with short-term solutions and a range of emergency services that may be able to help adults involved in the sex trade.

CyberTip Line

Official place to file complaints with the Federal Government about child pornography and suspected child sexual exploitation. Directed by The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in connection with the FBI.

National Human Trafficking Referral Directory

The online National Human Trafficking Referral Directory is designed to provide access to critical emergency, transitional, and long-term social services for victims and survivors of human trafficking. The directory also connects individuals with training and technical assistance and opportunities to get involved in their communities.

Beauty From Ashes

Where victims become over-comers. You can also contact their helpline:


Victoria’s Friends

Faith-based outreach and support for women in the sex trade industry


Faith-based outreach and support group for women in the sex industry

Sex Industry Survivors Anonymous

Or check out Anne Bissell’s website.


Girls Educational and Mentoring Services’ (GEMS) mission is to empower girls and young women, ages 12–24, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential.

Hookers For Jesus

Faith-based organization that addresses the realities of human sex trafficking, sexual violence, and exploitation linked to pornography and the sex industry. We are committed to reaching out to children/teens/women that need assistance/escape from sex slavery.

The Dream Catcher Foundation

Seeks to improve the lives of Chicago’s most disadvantaged and disenfranchised young women through  education, empowerment and prevention of sexual exploitation.

Strip Church

XXXChurch’s outreach ministry to those in the sex industry


Faith-based nonprofit that empowers change in the life direction of women and girls who are adult entertainers, prostitutes, escorts or victims of sexual exploitation by offering a holistic approach as well as an educational, emotional, physical and spiritual support system


Faith-based outreach to for exotic dancers.

JC’s Girls

Women’s ministry, started by a former stripper, to help women who currently are or have been in the Adult Entertainment Industry

New Friends, New Life

Faith-based organization located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that enables women to leave the degradation of the sex industry and to build new lives for themselves and their children.

The United Nations defines human trafficking in Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons as:

“the recruitment … by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion,… of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services…”


Overcoming sexual victimization of men and boys



Resources include a 24/7 online support line offering 1-on-1 chat with a trained advocate, our free and confidential online peer support groups which meet weekly, and a wealth of useful information, including answers to common questions and an explanation of certain myths & facts.


RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) – anti-sexual violence organization. Lots of resources.


National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE

National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE

National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-2873, 1-800-25ABUSE



Use these graphics, flyers, articles, and videos to educate others on curbing demand for commerical sex.

stop buying sex super bowl tackledemand
Tackle Demand Super Bowl defend sex trafficking victims


Timber! Strategies for Uprooting Commercial Sexual Exploitation- Valiant Richey

Rethinking John School : The Future of Sex Buyer Intervention- Peter Qualloitine

Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in Nevada- Melissa Holland

National Johns Suppression Initiative : A Collaborative Demand Deterrence and Disruption Tactic- Marian Hatcher

The Global Supply Chain of Sexual Exploitation- Lisa L. Thompson

Legislating Love, Not LockUp: A Look At Progress and Pitfalls of Anti-Trafficking Law- Karen Countryman-Roswurm

Sex-Buying Accelerants: Pornography and other Normalizing Forces – Alex Trouteaud

Inextricably Bound – Strip Clubs, Prostitution and Trafficking- Dan O’Bryant

1688 – 2017: History of the Development of the 21st Century Anti-trafficking & Modern Slavery Movement- Laura Lederer

New Definition of Trafficking: The Role of Pornography- Dr. Sharon Cooper

Benjamin Nolot Exposes Roots of Trafficking before UN

Amend the Communications Decency Act to Give Access to Justice to Victims of Sex Trafficking – Sam Vardaman, Shared Hope Intl.

The Bottom Girl Phenomenon – Shamere McKenzie

Two Questions, the Same Answer: the Role of Demand in Prostitution and Sex Trafficking – Shamere McKenzie, Salvation Army

The Global Supply Chain of Sexual Exploitation & the Necessity of Combating the Demand for Commercial Sex- Lisa Thompson, NCOSE