There are many different ways in which a girl or young woman can be forced into trafficking.
One way it happens is when traffickers and pimps bait women, by initially making themselves out to be the perfect ‘boyfriend’, and eventually tricking them into the trade. In these cases, traffickers and pimps will say and do all the right things until girls and young women who believe they are in a love with become dependent on their trafficker or pimp, and feel that though they owe them something.
Now that online dating is becoming a common gateway to meeting and hooking up too, traffickers and pimps can use these as ways of meeting girls and young women more easily.
Here are the four stages of what traffickers and pimps do to pull this off:
Are they the right fit…..?
Watch this video called STAGES: Putting a Price Tag on Human Dignity
During this stage, the trafficker or pimp looks for girls and young women who are vulnerable, plays on her weaknesses, and gets her to reveal personal information. For example, a trafficker or pimp will:
- Make his target girl or young women feel nice by paying her compliments on her looks and body
- Convince her she is unique and special to him – unlike other girls he has met or seen
At this stage, the trafficker or pimp has one major goal in mind: to gain her trust. Slowly, he tests to see how far he can push or convince his target girl or young woman in different situations.
During this time, the trafficker or pimp also collects information about:
- Her home life, who she lives with, her family or friends
- Her main supports and who she trusts
- The people she is close with or cares about the most in her life
The trafficker or pimp will use these against her later on in order to get her to do what he wants.
2. Honeymoon Stage: Gaming and Grooming
You will feel loved and all your dreams will come true….
In the honeymoon stage, the trafficker or pimp does everything to make his target girl or young woman fall in love with him.
When we feel emotionally attached to someone, we tend to care and do things for them that we wouldn’t do for any other person. The trafficker or pimp wants his target girl or young woman to be emotionally attached to him in order to convince her to do the things he wants.
Some things he might do at this stage are:
- Buy his target girl or young woman expensive gifts
- Take his target girl or young woman to nice restaurants and destinations
- Be extra romantic
- Have sex with her very affectionately
- Make promises he has no intention of keeping (ex. a happy life together, starting a family)
Once he sees that she is head over heels for him, he goes into the next stage.
3. Coercion and Manipulation
Mind games, less communication, connecting sex with money…..
At this stage of the game, the trafficker or pimp starts to send his target girl or young woman mixed messages. He will play on her emotions, and confuse her about whether he loves her or not to keep her on edge and seeking his attention. He will:
- Communicate with her less
- Behave unpredictably
- Only “reward” her with affection if she does what he wants
During this stage, the trafficker or pimp will push his target girl or young women to do things that make her uncomfortable in bed or during sex, in order to “numb” her to these acts. When she does what he wants her to do (ex. have sex, perform a sexual act he wants, etc) he will treat her with gifts or affection, so that she will begin to associate sex with payment (gifts, affection, love) or money.
The trafficker or pimp will use the information he has gathered to take advantage of his target girl or young woman (ex. “If you try to do… I will…”). He will also convince her that if she does what he wants, they will go back to the “good old times” (the honeymoon phase), which is, of course, a lie.
With these mind games, the trafficker or pimp is trying to make his target girl or young woman believe she did something wrong that made him take away his love and care, and that she owes him in order to get it back. This way, the target girl or young woman will do anything to get back in the good books with him – a set up for the next step.
Self esteem is broken… manipulation… threats.. isolation….. no one to turn to…
In this final stage, the trafficker or pimp has completely broken down their target girl or young woman’s self esteem, and made her feel completely shitty about herself. He will emotionally, psychologically and/or physically manipulate and force her into sex work. Using the information he gathered from her before, he will also threaten to expose her to her family or friends if she tries to leave him.
The trafficker or pimp convinces his target girl or young woman that she needs to do sex work in order to support them financially, and isolates her from family and friends to ensure she has no one to turn to.
Traffickers or pimps use very specific and calculated ways to traffic girls and young women. In some cases, they also use other girls and young women under their power to gain the trust of new girls and young women to trick into the trade. Check out this short clip to learn more:
Reaching out is hard but helpful to breaking the cycle….
Knowledge is power – and awareness about human trafficking can go a long way in helping end it. It is important for all girls and young women to know this stuff, regardless of who and where we are in our lives. But if you have been victimized or have survived an experience of human trafficking, it is not too late. There are girls and young women who have escaped the trade with help. East Metro Youth Services provides amazing support to people who have been trafficked, and you can also Get Help for counselling, police support, and safe shelters.