Buying sex is illegal throughout most of the United States, yet human trafficking remains an issue. Despite it being outlawed, there are still people buying sex in our communities. The question stands, who are these people? While it isn’t easy to profile a sex buyer, there are some things we know for certain.  


Overwhelmingly, sex buyers are men. We know that most men are not buying sex, but those that do, buy it often.  

Prostitution is commonly viewed as a women’s problem. Many people don’t know prostituted people are frequently victims of human trafficking. However, as long as there is a demand for buying sex, vulnerable people will continue to be subjugated to abuse. 

It’s not enough to say “well, not all men buy sex” or “I don’t buy sex. I’m not a part of the problem.” We must address this problem at a deeper root. Something is uniquely affecting men, and driving them to think buying people is okay and their personal right. 

We can’t expect the problem to solve itself without addressing the cause: demand.  

It’s not always who you expect

You might have a hundred different images in your mind of the kind of person who might be buying sex. However, in reality, profiling sex buyers is not an easy thing to do.  

Buyers can be any age, race, and socio-economic class. There is no one demographic exclusively committing this crime. 

However, sometimes the most trusted people in our society are the ones caught in human trafficking busts. It’s a scary truth to reckon with; people we trust to uphold the law, care for our children, and take care of our health are abusing women and children in their spare time. 

One buyer is not ‘better’ or more justified than another

A pro-prostitution argument that we often hear is that ‘some prostitutes’ choose the work. People believe they enjoy fancy meals and stays in high-end hotels.  

This ‘Pretty Woman myth’ that a high-end prostitute gets to live a life of luxury is just not true.Or, at least, is not true for 99.9% of individuals being prostituted and trafficked.  

Dr. Melissa Farley, clinical psychologist and researcher, claims this form of prostitution is actually more psychologically damaging. She describes the experience of having to pretend to enjoy being with buyers as “a betrayal of the self” and causes emotional and mental trauma. In her research, survivors remembered those high-end “dates” as some of the worst experiences with buyers. 

There is also a belief that men who buy sex are “just lonely” and looking for companionship. Our founder, Becky Moreland, points out that women experience loneliness as well, “but they’re not buying people.”  


It’s not easy to look at someone and know whether they are a person who would buy sex. With trafficking being such a prevalent issue, it’s clear there are enough buyers to keep this system of abuse and oppression operating. 

While you may not be a sex buyer yourself, it’s important to understand how trafficking affects everyone in our communities. We must take action by taking a stand against it. Read our blog post on ‘Men’s Role in Combatting Trafficking’ to dive deeper into how you can stand against trafficking, and click here to explore ways you can get involved with RAHAB.