John A. King knows that sex trafficking knows no gender, so he wants to make sure male victims get the help they need.
"My father put bread and water in my mother’s vagina, and I was given a choice that either my sister remove it with her tongue or I did," King told Circa. "And I did."
(John King in the documentary Stopping Traffic. Credit: Stopping Traffic)
King said that happened to him when he was four years old. The Polaris Project estimates that about 4.5 million people are trapped in forced sexual exploitation around the world.
"Their response was, 'Well, men don't get raped.'"
"Apparently, I was a good-looking kid, and I'd be taken to parties," said King. "I was trained at oral sex."
Sex trafficking is defined by the U.S. Department of Justice as a "commercial act induced by force" or in which the "person induced to perform such act" is a minor. Last year, the Human Trafficking Hotline reported that about 82 percent of sex trafficking calls came from women. The other 18 percent were from men. King says that while there are a lot of resources for women, more needs to be done for those 18 percent of victims who are male.
(Picture of John King and his sister when they were children. Credit: Dr. John A. King)
"I remember trying to approach 12-step programs and ask for help," said King. "And their response was, 'Well, men don't get raped.' I was told very clearly at one place that all I was trying to do was be a predator for these women."
So King started the Give Them A Voice Foundation, a nonprofit that connects male victims of sex trafficking to resources. The foundation has also partnered with "Stopping Traffic," a documentary coming out this year that focuses on the growing human trafficking industry in the U.S. and Latin America.
"Most people believe [sex trafficking] happens in third-world countries, but most people forget it happens here in the United States, here in L.A., here in New York, here in our backyard," says Sadvhi Siddhali Shree, the director of the documentary.
"I realized that what I needed was someone to stand up for boys and men like I was and maybe just champion their cause," said King. "I wanted to give a voice to boys and men like [me]. People who had no one to speak to."
While he says his trafficking ended when he was 16, King says it still affects him to this day.
(John King playing rugby in Australia. Credit: Dr. John A. King)
"It didn't end when the sexual abuse ended," said King. "It went on into business relationships, church relationships, constantly inviting abusive relationships in."
He's hoping documentaries like "Stopping Traffic," foundations like Give Them A Voice and his book, "Deal With It," help young men escape the sex trafficking cycle.
One thing the director of "Stopping Traffic" says people can do individually to stunt the growth of human trafficking is to stop watching porn. "Pornography plays a role," says Sadvhi Siddhali Shree. "Human beings are being exploited through it." Her film, "Stopping Traffic" premieres Sept. 29 in select cities across the country.
"And unless there's a place of intervention, a safe place to talk and negate these things and negotiate going forward, then 'brokenness' will be perpetuated," said King.
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