In the fourth stage, youth are fully exposed to sexual exploitation. The person seeking to exploit the youth may:

  • force or pressure youth to engage in sexual activities with themselves, their friends, or strangers
    • threats of violence and intimidation
    • threats to family
    • physical and sexual abuse
    • blackmail, and further manipulation
  • solicit clientele through various online forums, advertising the youth’s photos and services
  • keep most or all of youth’s earnings/profits, holding financial control over youth
  • threaten to expose youth’s engagement in the sex industry to family and friends
  • using debt bondage and/or collusion, youth can be made to believe:
    • they are guilty of wanting this lifestyle as their needs have been met continuously;
    • they are performing illegal activity and should be wary of law enforcement;
    • they must pay off a debt to the person seeking to exploit them for having their basic needs met.
  • maintaining aspects of Grooming and Connection phase to continue the cycle of abuse and make it difficult, and seemingly impossible, for youth to break the cycle
    • youth may still have basic needs met and may feel there are no alternatives

Despite the harm they experience, youth may feel like:

  • they are not experiencing exploitation
  • they must continue to engage in order to appease or support the person who is exploiting them, who they may still care about or feel loyalty to
  • they brought their difficult circumstances on themselves, or that they deserve the abuse they receive
  • they will not be believed or will get in trouble
  • they will not be able to return or readjust to their life prior to exploitation

As will be explored in depth in Modules 5 and 6, service providers must practice both holding youth’s feelings and ensuring to youth these feelings are valid, and while maintaining that no one deserves abuse or violence.

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