I Was Trafficked into Nevada’s Legal Brothels

I was trafficked into Nevada’s legal brothels.

Legal prostitution worldwide is known to facilitate human traffickers by giving them legal access to have women be sold for sex while they profit, without the legal risk of getting caught. I am a survivor who was once trafficked into Nevada’s legal brothels. My abuse began in the strip clubs and continued all the way through the streets, to casinos, to brothels, and back and forth hundreds of times.

My trafficker would send his victims, including myself, to work in the brothels as a form of punishment. Women were not able to come and go as they pleased. I distinctly remember how difficult it was to leave the premises of the two Nevada brothels I worked at.

We also did not have the “independent contractor” freedom to turn down buyers. Management required us to line up when someone arrived at the brothel. Once picked from the lineup, we would bring the sex buyer back to our room where he was allowed to do whatever he wanted with us.

All of our rooms were wired for sound, which they tell people is for the safety of the women. That’s not the real reason. The brothel management listened to all our negotiations—not to ensure our safety, but to ensure that the women are not “blowing calls,” cheating them or turning down customers. As much as they like to say you can turn down customers, that simply is not true.

If we were not doing business to the degree that they required, women like me were kicked out of the house or moved to the lower-performing brothel.

I cannot count the number of times I physically fought with men in the brothels and how many times I have been raped because I was too scared to fight back.

The violent-natured men I encountered in legal brothels are no different than the men buying sex on the streets. I cannot count the number of times I physically fought with men in the brothels and how many times I have been raped because I was too scared to fight back.

To cope with the violent and exploitative life inside the brothels, the culture promoted from the top would encourage us to get high and drunk so that we stay in a blissful state of compliance and in la-la land to continue making money for the establishment.

There are countless other women who, just like me, are being trafficked inside Nevada’s legal brothels. You will not see those women in the media, being interviewed or writing op-eds. You will not hear their stories. These women would face life-threatening consequences if they spoke up. But I know their stories. I was one of those women and I am now able to speak out on behalf of the many others still trafficked on the inside.

Where there is an avenue to make money by selling sex, corruption will follow. Our voices have been kept silent too long. Those in Lyon County who vote this November to keep prostitution legal are promoting and contributing to the problem of human trafficking. Their silence contributed to my trafficking!

Rebekah Charleston works to bring healing to those affected by sexual exploitation in her service as the Executive Director of Valiant Hearts and is a consultant with the National Criminal Justice Training Center.

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