What does the term Survival Sex mean? Survival sex is defined as exchanging sex for necessities of survival, such as shelter, food and/or clothing. Survival sex is a scary reality for homeless and vulnerable youth. In 2016, The Daily News reported that one in twenty students are homeless in Cowlitz County. Homeless youth are especially vulnerable to engaging in survival sex, and those who take advantage of these youth may hang around places that serve people who are homeless. Survival sex is a form of sex trafficking - even if the youth is not controlled by a “pimp” they are being trafficked by the “buyer” or “John”. Youth may feel like they do not have a choice in the decision to engage in survival sex. If the youth does not have a job or any other means of income, survival sex may seem like the only way to get their basic needs met.
Many runaway and homeless youth may be trying to escape abusive households. However, parents may “sell” their child as a way to make rent, pay for a drug habit, or buy groceries. Youth who run away to escape abusive homes may find themselves in a similar situation, selling sex as a way to ensure a place to stay at night. 1 in 5 homeless youth has engaged in survival sex, (National Runaway Safeline). Most people may think that these youth want to engage in this activity - but they don’t. Youth may feel like they do not have a choice in the matter when they need food or shelter. Youth who have been trafficked and exploited have an alarmingly high risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and personality disorders, (Human Trafficking Search, 2014). How can you help?Survival sex is a way that youth have learned to survive - you can help by advocating for more homeless services in our area, such as youth shelters, resources, services, etc. You can also shut down negative conversation and stigma around this topic. By providing empathy and understanding, rather than assuming that youth “choose” that lifestyle, you are letting youth know that it’s okay to ask for help and talk about it.
Advocates welcome individuals of all ages and genders. Our services are free & confidential. An advocate can help you with staying safe, finding resources, and can provide a safe and judgement free environment to talk about what you’re going through. We can also provide free safe sex kits, (condoms, the morning after pill, pregnancy tests, etc.). Contact Stacey at 360.703.3762 ext. 20 or firstname.lastname@example.org Caleb at ext. 16 or email@example.com.
Advocates are available to provide information about how to recognize common signs of sex trafficking and education to schools, businesses, organizations, churches, etc. to help you learn how to safely respond and report to police and/or the National Human Trafficking Hotline. To report suspected trafficking or to get assistance, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline anytime of day at1-888-373-7888or text HELPto 233733.