Sexually Exploited Youth (SEY) resources

Human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world. It is a public safety, health, and human rights issue occurring in our communities, yet sexual exploitation of youth in our area is commonly overlooked, misidentified, and undocumented.  

Hope Harbor recently hosted a comprehensive training on sexual exploitation and trafficking of youth in SWMN, presented by Juli Fast, Regional Navigator for Southwest MN.  This training provided working knowledge and practical skills for community members to utilize, bringing to light the issues of sexual exploitation and trafficking of minors in our area.  

Hope Harbor continues to work to highlight the truth about the sexual exploitation of youth that is happening in our area.  Most people don't want to admit this happening in their own backyard.  Until people are aware, this issue will grow.  Sexual exploitation is one issue many of our residents work to heal from, and countless more teens are involved in exploitation without receiving the help they need to overcome the abuse-teens that you know and love and see everyday.  Parents and caregivers are often blind to what is happening to our teens.  Once the truth comes out, most are unequipped and unsure how to deal with what comes next. 

Below are some resources we recommend to help heal from the trauma of sexual exploitation, including the startling legal definitions of exploitation that surprise most people.  Take the time to be educated on the truth about SEY.  Most importantly, if you or anyone you know is involved in sexual exploitation, contact your local law enforcement or any of the resources below for help, including Hope Harbor. Always remember: You matter.  You are loved.  You deserve more.

definitions of exploitation

MN Safe Harbor Law For the first time, Minnesota youth who engage in prostitution are viewed as victims and survivors, not criminals. They will be treated with dignity and respect, and directed to supportive services, and shelter and housing that meet their needs and recognize their right to make their own choices.  More information on this groundbreaking new legislation found here

No Wrong Door No Wrong Door is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, and multi-state agency approach in MN through the Safe Harbor Law. It ensures communities across Minnesota have the knowledge, skills and resources to effectively identify sexually exploited and at-risk youth. Youth are provided with victim-centered trauma-informed services and safe housing.

Sexually Exploited Youth (MN Statutes 260c.007 subd. 31) A sexually exploited youth is someone under the age of 18 who may be subject to sexual exploitation because they engaged, agreed to engage, or were forced into sexual conduct in return for a fee, food, clothing, or a place to stay.  A youth can also be sexually exploited if he or she has engaged in exotic dancing, been filmed doing sexual acts, traded sex for drugs, or has been found guilty of engaging in prostitution or prostitution-related crimes.

Minor Commercial Sexual Exploitation (working conceptual definition) Minor commercial sexual exploitation happens when an individual under the age of 18 engages in the commercial sexual activity.  A commercial sexual activity occurs when anything of value or a promise of anything of value is given to a person by any means in exchange for any type of sexual activity.  A third party may or may not be involved.  Anything of value is defined as money, drugs, food, shelter, rent, clothing, material goods, transportation, status in a gang or group, etc.

Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (simplified definition) Minnesota's sex trafficking law focuses on the behavior of the trafficker, determining whether that person recruited, received, harbored, or transported another person for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.  The MN law recognizes that a minor person can never consent to being sexually exploited.

recommended resources

click the names of the programs listed below to be redirected to their website.  these programs are not affiliated with, but are recommended by, Hope Harbor.

My Life My Choice  Harnessing the strength of the collective voices of survivors, My Life My choice empowers vulnerable youth to be agents of change in their own lives and in the movement to end the commercial sexual exploitation of children.   Hope Harbor currently has three facilitators trained in providing the My Life My Choice curriculum to local small groups.  Contact us here to set up a small group for your area.

Southwest Crisis Center Providing help, hope, and safety to victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence and human trafficking through supportive services in SW Minnesota.  Contact at (507) 376-4311 or

Breaking Free MN Based nonprofit organization serving women and girls who have been involved in prostitution.

GEMS Serving and empowering girls and young women, and to change the perception of commercially sexually exploited youth

Hookers for Jesus Ministry founded by MN native Annie Lobert committed to helping the sexually exploited.  Recommended: read Annie's autobiography Fallen  and watch her testimony here.  

Local Contacts

Emergency: 911 or Lyon County dispatch (507) 537-7000

SWCC Youth Outreach: 1-800-376-4311 or text 1-218-666-8336

Day One Hotline 1-866-223-1111