by Stacey Titchenal

“They are sort of the forgotten people in society and they are in need of help….As a counselor, I also believe that everyone is capable of healing,” says Cynthia Shaver, an intern counselor at Concordia University and the founder and chairman of POLE (Purposed, Original, Loved, and Empowered).
According to, sex trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act is under 18 years of age.
It is a common misconception amongst the general public that trafficking is something of third-world countries and too taboo to be happening here in the U.S. Every year, 50,000 women and children from at least 49 countries and as many as 300,000 American children are trafficked in the United States.
1.7 million children run away each year, not to something, but away from something; only a quarter to a third of those children are reported missing. Many of the trafficking victims are sexually assaulted, physically abused, and emotionally neglected previous to entering the industry. The majority of the time, they are either abandoned by the members of their household or decide to finally leave the painful residence. This corrupt upbringing grooms the mindset of these broken souls to feel that being beaten and raped is normal. 60-90% of workers in the sex industry have some child sex trauma in their backgrounds.
Pimps are master manipulators and cunning business men. Throw away your stereotypical idea of a pimp dressed in baggy, gangster clothes and replace it with a handsome man who has a nice car, an expensive wardrobe, and plenty of money to “pamper” any girl he wants.
These predators control your money, your ID, who you communicate with, where you go, what you wear, and who you do business with; sex trafficking victims essentially rely on them to survive. A pimp motivates his hoes to return time after time, and beating after beating, by barely keeping them alive, but giving them just enough food or masked love to make them dependent upon them. So deviously does he make his woman fall in love that, more often than not, she doesn’t know what to do without him.
“Pimps are very smart and know which girls are desperate for love and acceptance. Their job is to make them feel as if they are the only ones who can love them. These girls become so emotionally and (sometimes) financially dependent on their pimps that they will do anything for them,” says Shaver.
Typically, men are the main clientele, though that’s not always the case. One married couple from Texas ran an online child porn site and there was a Utah mother attempting to sell her daughter’s virginity. What’s more alarming is that the johns, or buyers, are our politicians, church leaders, teachers, factory workers, lawyers, field laborers, and everyone in between. Johns don’t always know they’re purchasing a minor for sex, but sometimes they do. The average age of those working in the industry is between 12 and 16; most of them haven’t even begun to hit puberty yet.
One website that was shut down had 70,000 subscribers paying $29.95 a month to see small children sexually assaulted. Pop culture has glamorized the sex trafficking industry and the derogatory statements made in reference towards women. What isn’t seen, however, is the ugly side of things. Women in this industry are stripped naked and raped, beaten with metal poles, choked, vulgarly talked to, and treated as a piece of meat. Yet, for some reason, America’s societies choose to turn their heads away because they don’t want to face the gut-wrenching facts proving that this is going on in our own neighborhoods.
“Most prostitutes out there are sex trafficked, since many are often raped or made to do sex acts that they don’t want to do. Not to mention the myriad of STD’s and unwanted pregnancies that happen. Sometimes they are held against their will. I know that there was a case where a young woman in Portland was chained in a dog house and raped on a regular basis. Women who are held against their will are typically not given the choice to have their abusers wear condoms or even bathe after intercourse. Women who are enslaved are often forced to have abortions and then resume sexual activity within hours after having the abortion, even if they don’t want to,” Shaver informs.
The Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance reports that there are easily over 200 victims each year in Portland alone. Portland and other main cities on the west coast are hot spots for human trafficking due to their locations. Portland is not only along the I-5 and I-84 corridors, serving as a major link to Seattle, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, but it has an airport and marine port, which make it easy to import and export sex slaves.
Commissioner Diane McKeel of Multnomah County, District 4, is determined to change these horrifying circumstances. “Our work around trafficking has involved efforts around raising awareness, increasing services for victims, and working with legislators to put in place stiffer laws for those who traffic or purchase girls.”
Mckeel is working on getting orange trafficking hotline stickers sent out to places selling alcohol, passing a couple bills in Salem that toughen laws related to trafficking, and raising awareness about the issue. Diane has testified in Washington DC before a senate committee on the topic, but her most successful work has been in receiving recent approval from the board of commissioners to open a shelter for trafficking victims.
Promoted understanding of the level of severity in this industry has even motivated a member of the Keizer community to make a difference. Jessica Mitchell, a former McNary Celtic, has been proactive about getting the word out that this is a serious issue here.
“Somebody brought up a website [while in Montana for YWAM], Love 146, which told personal stories of girls who had been in the industry. And then, from there, that inspired me to not just sit around and hear about the stories, but do something about it. I decided to get some young people together to fight this injustice,” explained Mitchell when asked about what made her want to get involved.
Mitchell has organized multiple awareness activities, from the Freeze Project at River Front Park where a group of about 30 people stopped and froze for five minutes while holding up statistics, to an upcoming screening of a very powerful documentary called Sex + Money: A National Search For Human Worth. Jessica is also in the process of working with Jane Titchenal (a friend of hers) to partner with Young Life and the organization “Make Her Beautiful Again” to put together a project called Go Glam. They’re hoping to establish it as an annual even to take place on future formals, such as Prom and Snoball. The idea is to get the coordinators together and work with a salon to do the makeup and hair of girls preparing for the event; however, all the proceeds go directly to Make Her Beautiful Again.
Media shows the prostitutes as the criminals, when in reality, they’re usually the victims. Task forces should be going after the pimps and johns who keep this industry alive. The abusive circle needs to stop, and it starts with the incredible efforts of everyday citizens like Jessica Mitchell and Cynthia Shaver. Silenced with threats and mentally brainwashed, we are the voice for the victims of sex trafficking.To get involved in halting this business of battered souls and inhumane ways, or would like more information, please contact Cynthia Shaver ( or Chelsea Morell with Hope International: 360.921.3275. Or go to or

*All statistics mentioned in this story are not 100% accurate do to the growing and mainly hidden business. They are ever-changing and open to interpretation.


One comment on “Trafficking

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