After many years of living as a captive commercially exploited sex worker, Rachel Lloyd escaped the men who imprisoned her in Germany—and she was only a teen-ager.

Shortly afterward she came to the U.S. as a missionary; and in 1998, with only a computer and $30, she established a one-woman outreach program to support female American survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking.

Lloyd, who has gone on to earn a master’s degree, will address hundreds of social workers and mental health professionals at the Oct. 22-25, 2012 Midwest Conference on Child Sexual Abuse sponsored by UW-Madison Continuing Studies.

Partly as a result of Lloyd’s lobbying the government to rescue and protect exploited youth, sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking has become a serious issue for U.S. law enforcement. Lloyd’s organization, Girls Educational and Mentoring Service (GEMS), helped establish the first Safe Harbor Act in New York State in 2000. For her work, Ms Magazine named Lloyd  “One of 50 Women Who Change the World.”

Is exploitation and trafficking an issue in Wisconsin?

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center reports that during the months of April through June of this year, it received 14 tips that originated in this state. In 2011, the center’s hotline says six Wisconsin people called with crisis situations; eight others were potential victims of trafficking, and seven reported being potential victims of labor exploitation.

The reports shows the first languages of the callers as Russian (1), Spanish (6), Ukrainian (2), Turkish (2), Thai (1), and English for the others.

Because of the secrecy that surrounds the crime,the exact number of youth involved is unknown; but the annual estimate is about 42,000. According to Lloyd, the Department of Justice estimates that 12-14 is the most common age of entry and that 100,000–300,000 children are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation each year in the U.S.

Another study shows that 70–90% of commercially sexually exploited children have a history of child sexual abuse.