Caroline Engvall: Human trafficking affects our own youths.

Close your eyes and think about human trafficking.
I know exactly what you’re thinking.
The victim is a woman.
Probably from a Baltic country or perhaps from Romania.
Force to be here, cheated, locked up.
Clearly a so-called victim of trafficking.
But the fact is that the picture is much broader than that – and human trafficking even affects our own youths.

– I met a boyfriend and lived in an abusive relationship for two years and fro. My boyfriend abused me and let his friends have sex with me against money that ended up in his pocket. When I came out of this tangled relationship I punished myself for allowing it to happen, with sex of course, writes 20 -year-old Åsa (not her real name) to me.

Åsa does not fit the typical “picture of a human trafficking victim”.
She is a seemingly ordinary Swedish girl in Acne jeans and Odd Molly T-Shirt.
It is initially difficult to put together the puzzle when she talks about the awful things she has gone through when her boyfriend was acting a pimp. Can a human trafficking victim be like this?

Yes, she can.
It is time we raise our heads and begin to see beyond our own prejudices and stereotypes.
Those who may be the most vulnerable may also be very close– without us expecting it.

/ Caroline Engvall , author of the swedish books “14 år och inte till salu” and “Skamfläck” and also founder of the self-assistance website – about sex as self-injury.