Last year we wrote an article with a woman who spent her childhood and early adulthood as a sex slave in the United States. It was horrifying and depressing and, for some reason, a bunch of readers declared our source a fraud. Their arguments boiled down to, “There’s no way this kind of shit happens today!”

Well, it not only goes on, it’s common. Globally, the U.N. estimates the yearly value of the human trafficking industry at $32 billion, making it the third-largest criminal industry on the planet, lagging only behind guns and drugs. The vast majority of it is sex slavery, and law enforcement almost never succeeds in punishing the culprits.

We’re talking about millions of victims, probably 80 percent of them female (though all numbers are just educated guesses). How is that shit even possible? Well, to get an even clearer picture of the horror, we spoke to an expert who works with sex-trafficking victims in Europe and a former victim from right here in the U.S. of A..

5 Ugly Things You Learn As A Sex Slave In The Modern World