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Five Things to Know About Domestic Sex Trafficking

By: Michelle Sigona

Over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to work extensively on stories and shows educating the public on the growing issue of sex trafficking. I can tell you this is definitely not just an international problem, and the threat does exist in America. Also I think it’s important for the public to know a prostituted person or child, is not the same as a prostitute. The “ed” on the end, makes the biggest difference in how we reference these victims. Changing the way we speak about it could help with how the public perceives this issue.

Sex trafficking is a form of slavery and it is a crime. It’s much easier for a pimp/trafficker to sell a girl over and over again than it is to go out and sell drugs. Ripping a woman or a child from their environment, brainwashing and making them fear for their lives is one of the most important keys to holding a slave. In many cases the victims are not only threatened with murder, but the pimp/traffickers also threaten to harm their families and the ones they love the most. This is one of the reasons why victims chose not to escape and to obey everything the abductor needs.

I want to take a moment to explain exactly what sex trafficking is, the game the traffickers play, the brainwashing that takes place and why it is hard for a victim to escape. This information is from a variety of courses and workshops I have attended throughout the United States, dozens of interviews I have personally conducted with survivors of sex trafficking, law enforcement who investigate the cases and non-profit organizations that help to combat this issue.


So what’s the motive in sex trafficking? Money and control.

When a pimp/trafficker approaches a female, these are some things that take place during what’s called the THE GAME:

1) Selection process is underway, the predator is making contact with the victim at the mall, school, playgrounds, parties, parks and especially the Internet.

2) Once a connection is made and a friendship is developed, the courtship process goes into full mode. The pimp/trafficker becomes this loving boyfriend, buying gifts, listening to problems, being the rock the victim can lean on. The trust builds rather quickly during this phase.

3) After a bond is built, the isolation begins. The pimp will require the woman/child to move into his “stable.” She becomes part of the “family” and the other girls in the stable are referred to as “folks.” In many cases, the pimp/trafficker will want the victim to call him “daddy.”

4) The victim is told she has to help pay for their home and to help be a “provider” and if they love their “daddy” they will do anything, including taking jobs and servicing other men. According to the Polaris project, contrary to popular belief, the pimp/traffickers do not offer protection and they are glamorized. This glamorization is far from the reality of how pimps actually behave. The money they victim makes, they do not keep, it is given to the trafficker.

5) A trafficked person/child is generally given a quota each night to meet before she is allowed to come home. That money is then turned over to the pimp/trafficker. The victim in many cases is branded with a tattoo, this shows the girl is owned by someone.

I have written about this before and I can tell you if there was not a demand for men “John’s” who pay for sex – there would not be a supply. If we begin in the schools and educate young men and women on the dangers of pornography, how victims are lured and what this industry is about, we may start to make our dent in the world of domestic sex trafficking.

The Polaris Project, out of Washington D.C. works to rescue victims and protect survivors. According to their website, “Polaris Project is committed to combating human trafficking and modern-day slavery, and to strengthening the anti-trafficking movement through a comprehensive approach.”

If you are a victim yourself or know of someone who may be in a pimp controlled environment, please call: 888.3737.888 to speak with one of their trafficking specialists. The hotline is confidential, it’s 24-hours and it’s free.