What is Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC)

Commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) is violence against children. CSEC is sexual abuse or exploitation of a minor, 17 and under, for “payment” or promise of money, goods or services to the child or a third person(s). CSEC occurs through a variety of methods including interfamilial pimping, street prostitution, pornography, stripping, erotic/nude massage, escort services, private parties, truck stops, gang-based prostitution, and forms of Internet-based ex-ploitation. CSEC disproportionately affects youth of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) youth, and girls.

The following are common indicators that may help in identifying children/youth who are at-risk of or are being commercially sexually exploited. A child exhibiting these indicators may not be a victim of CSEC.

  • Visible signs of abuse such as unexplained bruises, black eye(s), cuts or marks
  • Behaviors including fear, anxiety, depression, submission, tension and/or nervousness
  • Behaviors such as “hyper-vigilance”
  • Tattoos (“branding”) typically on wrist, shoulder blade or chest
  • Sexually exploited children/youth often express interest in or are in relationships with older men or adults
  • Evidence of controlling or dominating relationships
  • Possession of multiple cell phones, hotel room keys
  • Frequent running away, skipping school (truancy)
  • Indicators that child/youth is lying about their age or name, fake ID , no ID
  • Family dysfunction (family violence, history of child abuse/neglect, alcohol/drug abuse)

Due to the fear, coercion, threats and exploitation of multiple vulnerabilities by perpetrators, children and youth who may have experienced sexual exploitation, will generally not identify as a “victim” or “survivor,” identify as a victim of sexual assault or human trafficking, or disclose abuse during the initial contact(s).

The following is a list of services and resources available in Washington. Support and assistance is available to individu-als who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation, their parents, families and caregivers, by contacting the Crime Victim Service Center or Community Sexual Assault Program in your area. Advocacy services are free of charge. Services include:

  • Access to a victim advocate 24 hours per day, 7 days per week,
  • Support and assistance aimed at meeting the self-determined needs of youth,
  • Support and assistance for parents, caregivers and adults impacted by CSEC,
  • Assistance with safety and support planning,
  • Assistance and support with accessing medical care related to CSEC,
  • Assistance and support with accessing additional resources,
  • Assistance with understanding the legal system, the rights of victims as well as other government agencies and services.

For information about services and help available for victims and survivors of trafficking, please click here.