At BTR, we know that pornography is not a stand-alone issue. In fact, the pornography industry is so closely tied to human trafficking and is blatant sexual exploitation. As an organization that decries sexual slavery, we invite you to help prevent human trafficking.
Anne Basham, CEO of Anti-Trafficking International (ATI), joins Anne on the free BTR podcast to outline steps that you can take to help prevent human trafficking and work toward a world where women and children are free from sexual exploitation. Read the full transcript below and listen to the free BTR podcast for more.
Anne Basham has worked in both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, as well as government relations in the private sector where she advocated on behalf of human rights issues such as violence against women, child welfare, human trafficking, and genocide. She began her career working on Capitol Hill for a US senator, but most recently, Miss Basham was the senior advisor at the Department of Justice for Victims of Crime, the largest federal funder of anti-human trafficking efforts in the United States. OVC allocates over 6 billion in federal grants and other projects and Anne helped develop strategies to help victims of human trafficking, sexual assault, violence against women and children, and elder abuse. Throughout her career, Anne has served victims from all over the world helping them safely leave dangerous situations, navigate the legal system, and secure safe housing and trauma recovery.
With a master’s degree in education from the University of Virginia, Anne understands that education is truly the best form of prevention against human trafficking and other threats to children. This is why she is especially passionate about empowering children, parents, and frontline responders to effectively recognize and respond to human trafficking. Welcome, Anne.
Help Prevent Human Trafficking: Learn The Signs
“I’ve met these trafficking victims; if you sat across from just one of them eyeball to eyeball, you would want to pour everything you could into making sure that that person never had to go through that in the first place, that they never had to experience any of that or have their little girl dreams just ripped up to shreds.”Anne Basham, CEO of Anti-Trafficking International (ATI)
If you are able to quickly learn the signs of human trafficking, you may be able to save a life. Anne lays out some of the outward signs that someone is a victim of human trafficking:
- A change in physical appearance
- A change in school or work performance
Help Prevent Human Trafficking: Who Do Recruiters Seek Out?
Victims of human trafficking vary in every way, but traffickers may seek out victims who appear to be:
- Socially isolated
- Less confident
- Wanting a boyfriend
- Prone to accepting and believing flattery
Practicing radical self-care and seeking a strong support system can help women and girls arm themselves against the grooming tactics that recruiters and traffickers use.
Help Prevent Human Trafficking: Just Ask
“She needs the courage of someone else to come there and ask pointed questions because I think at the end of the day there are pointed questions that give people courage, they really do. To really think about things they’ve probably wondered themselves, and never had the courage to go there to think about deeply.”Anne Basham, CEO of Anti-Trafficking International (ATI)
One of the most effective measures that you can take to prevent human trafficking is to be willing to ask pointed, honest questions to the women and girls in your life. Be willing to have open, honest conversations and discussions. Your willingness to talk openly may be the gateway to their willingness to ask for help in a dire situation.
BTR is Here For You
At BTR, we understand that human trafficking is not some faraway issue, but that many women in our community experience sexual exploitation and even trafficking in their own homes.
We are here for you.
Join the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group today and find the community that you deserve.
Anne: Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.
Before we get to today’s episode, BTRG is our daily online support group, we have 21 plus sessions per week for you to choose from. You don’t have to wait for an appointment, you don’t have to leave your home. We are here for you. We’d love to see you in the session today.
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Anne Basham on the BTR Podcast
We’re continuing the conversation with Anne Basham today. If you did not hear last week’s episode, go back there, listen to that first, and then join us here. Let’s get right into the conversation.
Anne: We’ve talked a little bit about who traffickers target. You’re saying these are women or girls, and boys sometimes, who you would not expect. Who are coming from affluent families or other situations you don’t typically think of for a trafficking victim. So, let’s talk more about that. Who do traffickers target and what are the misconceptions?
Anne Basham: Technically anyone could become a victim of human trafficking, but they do generally target certain ages. So, like I said age 11 to 15, which is shockingly young, is really the prime target for most human trafficking victims but it can range all the way up to age 25 really. The second thing is girls are targeted more than boys. Boys are targeted too, absolutely, but it is mostly girls. One of the other factors is there’s some perceived vulnerability, either some form of social isolation or some perceived form of weakness. As I said, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen across the board. One of the biggest misconceptions I can tell you is that people think this can’t happen to my kid and I say it over and over. Yes, it absolutely can happen to your child, it absolutely can.
“He Sweeps Her Off Her Feet”
So, when I talk about perceived forms of weakness that can be even a positive at times. Perceived forms of weakness could be someone who is just extra compassionate. I actually was interviewing a woman who had interviewed a pimp, and she said that when she interviewed him, he said that the thing that they looked for is they would do in a group of girls, and the one who looked down at the ground when they answered that was the one that they picked as their victim because she looked down at the ground. So, it could be something as subtle as that. You know, someone who’s just not quite as confident around their peers. We’ve worked with girls like that as well in the schools, they have a great home, but gosh those teen years are really rough, and it’s hard to be confident and all those things and so those can even be some of the perceived weaknesses. Someone who really wants a boyfriend, I know that sounds really simple but someone who just really wants a boyfriend because often the recruiters come in the package of a boyfriend. You know, they really want a boyfriend, and he comes along and he sweeps her off her feet.
“You Look Like A Model”
The last thing is really appealing to flattery. One of the biggest ways that girls can be lured in is by the simple phrase, you look like a model. You look so beautiful. You look like a model. Do you want to be a model? And I don’t know if your audience wants to watch it but there’s a video that’s on Netflix, it’s called Hot Girls Wanted. It’s a documentary on the whole concept of how this happens and how girls get lured away really through grooming and it starts with hey you know we want hot girls, you know we want models, and they get lured away.
Anne: Why do you and your organization ATI, which is Anti-trafficking International, why do you focus on the prevention aspect of human trafficking?
ATI, Anti-Trafficking International
Anne Basham: Almost all funding for human trafficking in the United States goes towards aftercare. So, most people don’t realize this, we are third in the world in the United States for human trafficking, which is shockingly high, and then of that most funding and most resources in America are really focused on what happens after someone’s recovered, and yet only 1% of human trafficking victims are ever recovered. And my perspective, and I’m sure your audience can attest to this, I’ve never ever met a victim who didn’t sit there and say to themselves, I wish I had known- fill in the blank, maybe I could have- fill in the blank, you know because it’s not their fault, but they play this guessing game. I wish I hadn’t fallen down the hole, you know, I wish I had known to avoid this. And so, what our organization does is focus really heavily on the prevention side. So, we really want to stop human trafficking before it starts. So, we have a variety of programs, but every single one of them in some way is very, very focused on prevention, and our main programs actually have to do with education.
I know you mentioned earlier, but my Master’s is in education, and I am just a firm, firm believer that education is truly the best form of prevention because when we know better, we do better across the board. We’re able to avoid things. For lack of knowledge, people do perish, but with good knowledge, people are able to avoid horrible, horrible things. And so, we really focus on the prevention side because Benjamin Franklin said it best, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. For all the resources that are available. I’ve met these trafficking victims, if you sat across from just one of them eyeball to eyeball, you would want to pour everything you could into making sure that that person never had to go through that in the first place, that they never had to experience any of that or have their little girl dreams just ripped up to shreds.
The Prevention Aspect
Anne: That’s interesting you say that I also have a master’s degree in education, so I feel the same way about reframing pornography use as an abuse issue is my main goal in life. To be like, this isn’t just an addiction issue where you can be like, oh okay, honey, I love you. I’m going to support you while you’re going to 12-Step. You have an abuser in your home, and you need to act accordingly. This is a serious, serious thing. Can he change? Sure. Will he change? I don’t know, but you need to get to safety and wait from a safe distance and know what safety looks like. Know what you’re looking for in order to be safe, not just take his word for it that he stopped using porn, or something like that. So, I think my goal is to make sure that those young women don’t end up marrying these narcissistic abusers in the first place.
That is so good, the prevention aspect of this is really important. As our listeners are here listening to this and they’re thinking what about my daughter or my son, how can I better safeguard him or her? What would you recommend for how to safeguard children from exploitation or trafficking?
Safeguarding Children Against Exploitation & Trafficking
Anne Basham: Well, the first thing is as a parent, really just educating yourself. There’s a variety of ways, you can go to our website, it’s just preventht.org and there’s a little tab that says Human Trafficking 101. It’s very simple, you can learn all about human trafficking, but it’s really eye-opening. So, I will tell you I spoke to a PTA here locally. I was told behind the scenes that there was one woman and she basically got on because it was part of the PTA and she wasn’t sure she even wanted to get on she told my friend, she’s like, I don’t need to hear this. She was more engaged and shocked by the information because she truly didn’t think that it could happen to her kid. And my goal, just as a parent and you know someone who, as I said, has an education background is really to equip parents first and foremost. The number one thing is parents get educated and then pass that information along to their kids.
We have a resource on our website too that’s actually a parenting tool, you can download it totally for free. And it really is a guide for you to talk to your kids about this, because they know it’s a difficult thing to talk about, but it’s really, it’s a great door opener to talking about narcissism and all sorts of other things and qualities that we look for in the people that we date. Because that’s one of the key things to discuss, is what are those qualities that we look for and what are those red flags that we look for in a relationship too because the ones that you see in an abusive relationship are going to be very similar to the ones that a trafficker will have.
Trauma Mama Husband Drama
Anne: I’m going to take a break here for just a second to talk about my book, Trauma Mama Husband Drama. You can find it on our books page. That books page also has a curated list of all of the books that we recommend. My book Trauma Mama Husband Drama is a picture book for adults, so it is the easiest way for you to explain what’s going on to someone who might not understand it. It’s also just a good reference for yourself because it shows what’s happening with very telling and emotional illustrations, as well as infographics at the back. When you go to our books page and click on any of those books, it just takes you directly to Amazon and you can throw those books in your cart. After you have purchased the book, please remember to circle back around to Amazon and write a verified purchase review, along with a five-star rating. That helps isolated women find us, it bumps Trauma Mama Husband Drama up in the Amazon algorithm, and even if women don’t purchase the book, it helps them find this podcast, which is free to everyone.
Here’s a five-star review we received on Amazon. She said: this book is very informative and extremely easy to read. I’m so grateful I found it. The most helpful were simple definitions that give me a voice and help me feel supported when using the terminology. So, when you buy the book, Trauma Mama Husband Drama, on Amazon just circle back around to Amazon, leave a five-star rating with a review, it helps isolated women find us. And even if they don’t buy the book, it helps them find this podcast, which is free to everyone.
Alright, now back to our conversation.
“Anytime Someone Uses Porn, It’s Serious”
One of the things that our listeners grapple with is how “bad is my husband”, right. Is he a good guy who is able to quit porn, is our marriage going to be okay, do I need to file for divorce yesterday? They have all these questions that they are trying to navigate. Can you talk really quick about the progression to consuming child sex abuse material? Why anytime someone uses porn it’s serious.
Anne Basham: It is, absolutely. So, as I mentioned earlier, it really is your brain takes the dopamine hit, that’s how it becomes an addiction, and like with any addiction, what it takes to get that initial high is going to change. So, if you consistently consume pornography, it probably doesn’t always start, and I would imagine doesn’t usually start, with what we call facing up. Child sexual abuse material. It doesn’t usually start there, but it progresses there because your brain needs one more hit, one more hit, one more hit, and it absolutely can progress to that in some cases. Women, they’re pretty shocked at what’s even available on the internet.
As I mentioned earlier, the buyers of these trafficking victims are quite often men you would not expect. And I do say men, I try not, but 98% of buyers of trafficking victims are men. 98%. So that is the statistic. And I will tell you that much of pornography is nonconsensual, and your sources for pornography, such as Pornhub are often videos of rape, and they’re not love-based, and they’re very, very young girls. So, if your brain is going to Pornhub and watching video after video of literally young girls, you are training your brain, and that’s what’s happening. So, it becomes the sexual addiction progression into, at times CSAM, which is child sexual abuse material, you know, and eventually the real thing.
“The Escalation of the Abuse”
Anne: Rather than saying an escalation of the addiction, I would almost say an escalation of the abuse. Where your sexual template is that you get a boner, sorry to use that, from abuse. And so, your abuse escalates.
Anne Basham: Absolutely. Yeah, we’ve heard someone, there’s a term child pornography, I don’t even like that term. I don’t feel like it’s pornography, it’s sexual abuse material. Like, that is what it is. It’s not child pornography. That’s why we call it CSAM because it really isn’t pornography. This is a child. This is sexual abuse material.
You know the nature of pornography used to be it was completely consensual. You know we think about playboy. It was someone who chose as a model to go and do that.
Anne: I might even say, was it? We don’t even know back then. What kind of mind games happened with that woman in order for her to do that, right?
Anne Basham: Sure, absolutely. Well, I’d say it was glamorized in the 90s’. Like, pornography was really glamorized, I mean it was shocking. I remember, big models, bragging about how they were doing this. They were bragging about it. Now, how they got there, I don’t know, but you know, this is nothing like that. This is absolutely nothing like that. These are literal victims who are like I said, often can be raped on camera, and they’re often very very young. So, if you’re consuming this sort of material, Pornhub, that’s what you eventually want to act out.
“I Thought It Was A Good Thing Until My Whole World Started Falling Apart”
Anne: When you said the victims we’re really proud, let’s say. It kind of reminds me of myself when back in the day, I was so “proud of my husband” who was in recovery from addiction. And I would prop him up as like he’s in recovery and he’s doing so well and I’m so proud of him for overcoming all the problems that he’s had as a kid and all this stuff, right. Not knowing that I was lying. I was being manipulated so I thought that that was true, but it wasn’t true. So, I was standing up in front of people talking about my amazing husband who had overcome all these things, and he had manipulated me into saying that. So, I think it’s interesting when you say these women were the centerfold, and they were proud of it, but we can’t really know exactly what took her there to think that that was a good thing. Because I thought it was a good thing until my whole world started falling apart.
Coercion in the Film Industry
I’ve read three articles lately one about Salma Hayek, one about Sharon Stone, and one about Jennifer Love Hewitt about coercion just in the R-rated movies they were in. They were so excited to be this lead in a movie and they showed up on the set; they did not expect a sex scene, and they were coerced at that moment to do the sex scene by the director and a bunch of men standing around. All three of them, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sharon Stone, and Salma Hayek say that it was traumatic, they were misled. Words like that, that they were coerced. And so, even just with a regular R-rated movie where you think this woman was paid. Like, she’s on this poster, everybody knows that she’s in it. They wouldn’t think she was coerced into doing the sex scene in those movies.
Anne Basham: But if they are. they’ve been paid. Think about it. You have a contract, you have people standing around, you don’t know all the details. Then someone stands there and says you need to do X, Y, or Z. And it’s very easy to stand on the outside and judge. I hear it all the time, well, why didn’t they just say no or why didn’t they just? Don’t judge until you have literally walked through this because it is subtle.
Coercion in Intimate Relationships
Anne: Yeah, and I mean that’s not even considered porn per se, right. It’s just a movie. I’m realizing now there was one more, it was Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones. She too was surprised that she’d need to show her chest or her breasts, and she was upset about it but she said she didn’t have a big enough name and all these people were standing around. They said, well, if you won’t do this we need an actress who will and you’d lose your job. That’s coercion right there.
I’m really grateful that women in Hollywood now are starting to talk about this and starting to write articles about it so we know Emilia Clarke had this problem because there’s an article about it on CNN or whatever but like, more and more women are saying, wait a minute. No, no, no, and also after the fact when we realize that, wait, my whole marriage was a sham. He groomed me from the beginning, and he never actually truly cared about me as a person. He was never a partner. He just wanted to use me for sex and other things. Now I know the truth. We’re trying to share that with other women so that we can all stay safe, whether it’s in Hollywood, whether it’s in our own relationships, or how we can keep our kids safe obviously.
So, we’ve talked a lot about trafficking, about parenting, about the intersection between pornography and trafficking, and how this is all abuse on every front. As you know, all of our listeners are in relationships with men who use pornography or lie to them, manipulation, narcissistic abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, sexual coercion. Oh, my word, that’s way too many things that I just said, but they’re all dealing with that in their own homes. So, to conclude, can you talk about the signs of human trafficking? Like, there might be a listener who is listening, who doesn’t know she’s being trafficked for example, or might have a child who’s being trafficked, and they are not aware. So, to conclude let’s wrap up with what are the signs of human trafficking?
What Are The Signs of Human Trafficking?
Anne Basham: Yeah, so some of the signs of human trafficking can be changes in someone’s appearance, their grade slipping, some of their physical features. Just to tie it into your listeners especially, you know, I used to work with victims of violence against women as well. Our organization used to be called the Just Ask Prevention Project because it’s so important that people just be asked. It started because there was a victim, she had been trafficked for three years. Her grades were slipping, her appearance had changed. She was in counseling because of it, she was seeing doctors, you know, people were addressing it but they were addressing all the signs, all the symptoms. And I’m sure your listeners can relate to that, you know, from the outside things are happening, and all that gets addressed is all the symptoms.
Anne: Well, they don’t know what the source of it is, right. So, they’re in marriage counseling because they think it’s a communication problem or they think, oh, I just need breast implants because my boobs aren’t as big as my neighbors or whatever.
Anne Basham: Exactly. So, all of these signs and symptoms that are coming up, if your listeners hear it in a friend or anyone, just ask. Just ask them, you know, could your husband have a pornography issue? That’s a question. You can ask is there anyone forcing you, is anyone coercing you? If you have a child specifically or someone younger you can say to them something along the lines of targeted questions that really get at whether or not this is trafficking. Because this girl opened up as soon as she was asked the right questions, but she was never asked the right questions. I know for so many victims, they will speak up, but they really won’t speak up until the right questions are asked. And I know a lot of times, specifically, it’s hard to even ask your husband these questions because I mean, do we really want to know?
Anne: Well, but also, he’ll lie to you. So, asking him is not really going to help. So, if you say hey, are you filming me and then putting it on the internet for money, and he really is, he’s not going to say yes.
That’s really good. I think that that is the same with abuse. That people don’t realize they’re being abused, and then when someone asks them some specific questions or helpful questions, then you can kind of help them see it. We can assume that many trafficking victims don’t actually realize they’re being trafficked, and help them by asking questions, or maybe by educating them a little bit, which is really hard to do. I realize that it feels like, oh wait this is none of my business. Really? Am I really going to ask that person are you being forced to have sex?
From personal experience, having asked people some very difficult questions like oh, is your husband raping you, it has been amazing how well it has gone, and I know that sounds crazy. And if it doesn’t go well, at least you did what you could to help that person. I’m always a fan of people who out of compassion and care for people do their best to help, and I think people can see that and I hope that they can, and if they get mad, they get mad, but at least you tried. That’s my opinion but maybe I’m wrong.
Be Willing to Dig Deep to Help Other Women Address Safety Issues
Anne Basham: Absolutely. No, I agree. And people want to be known, I mean, at the core we all want to be known. And we’ve even talked to women who are, who lead ministries, or they’re leaders in other capacities. I’ve talked to men who are leaders at church, and I think one of the biggest things is to not just address the signs and the symptoms, but to really dive deep and say, have you considered maybe your partner has a pornography issue and going there with that victim. You know, maybe she’s thought it, but no one’s actually asked her. They’ve just said to her hey, why don’t you go into counseling or why don’t you go to a doctor and take some medication if you’ve got some anxiety. But she really has a sense something’s wrong, and she’s not really addressing it. She has this strong sense, but she needs the courage of someone else to come there and ask this pointed question because I think at the end of the day there are pointed questions that give people courage, they really do. To really think about things they’ve probably wondered themselves, and never had the courage to go there to think about deeply.
BTR Can Help You Get to Safety
Anne: Or maybe though oh, I must just be crazy. My husband’s fine. He’s nice. We go to church; he always instigates family prayer. I’m just being crazy.
Anne Basham: I have a friend; that’s how she came to realize that there really was abuse in her marriage. It was actually a pastor and this woman had gone all over speaking and she wasn’t hiding what was going on with her husband, but she wasn’t thinking about it from…
Anne: A personal perspective?
Anne Basham: Yes, she wasn’t really speaking, and she told this person behind the scenes, it was this man, I think he was a pastor or something behind the scenes, sort of what was going on. And the man said to her, have you considered that this is abuse? And she had initially said oh no, no, no, but it takes that first person to say, have you considered. Have you considered this could be abuse? Have you considered that this could be sexual abuse? Have you considered that this could be a form of rape in your marriage? It really takes that person who loves you enough to ask those questions.
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Anne: And I love you dear listeners, which is why I’m asking these hard questions and asking you to ask these hard questions. I’m hoping that we’ll all make our way to safety together as a healthy army of women, which is exciting to me. It’s exciting that more and more women are becoming educated about these issues and able to teach their children and talk to their friends because that’s what’s going to get us out of this mess.
If this podcast is helpful to you, please support it. Until next week, stay safe out there.