The Health Consequences of Sex Trafficking
and Their Implications for Identifying Victims
in Healthcare Facilities
Laura J. Lederer* and Christopher A. Wetzel**
[W]hen I turned 13 I’d had enough of the abuse in home and I ran away.
I didn’t know where to go so I went to the center of town and stood by
the town hall. A man saw me hanging around there and he said that he
was looking for a ‘protégé.’ I didn’t know what it was but it sounded fine
to me. He said that I could stay at his house if I didn’t have a place to
stay. . . . When we got to his house he pulled out a bottle of gin and had
me drink and drink. The next thing I remember is waking up drunk in his
bed all wet and hurt. He took me out on the street and told me what to do
. . . During that time I saw 10 to 20 men a day. I did what he said
because he got violent when I sassed him. I took all kinds of drugs—
even though I didn’t really like most of them . . . Over the years I had
pimps and customers who hit me, punched me, kicked me, beat me,
slashed me with a razor. I had forced unprotected sex and got pregnant
three times and had two abortions at [a clinic]. Afterward, I was back out
on the street again. I have so many scars all over my body and so many
injuries and so many illnesses. I have hepatitis C and stomach and back
pain and a lot of psychological issues. I tried to commit suicide several
Kayla’s story is typical of women and girls trafficked for commercial sex
President, Global Centurion; Subject Matter Expert, U.S. Department of Defense;
Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown Law Center; Senior Advisor on Trafficking, Office
of Global Affairs, US Department of State, 2002 –2009.
** J. D. Candidate, University of Virginia, 2015; B. A., Grove City College, 2012.
The authors would like to acknowledge the following for their support in the course of this
investigation: Abolition International; Charlotte Lozier Institute; The Giving Fund; The
Greenbaum Foundation; Gulton Foundation, Inc.; Vanguard Charitable Endowment
Program; and an anonymous donor.
1. All survivor names have been changed to protect their privacy.