Human Trafficking Exists.
Human trafficking is the force, fraud, or coercion of an individual for commercial sex or forced labor in exchange for something of value (money, clothing, food, etc).
If a person under the age of 18 is providing commercial sex, they are automatically considered a victim of sex trafficking.
Why does sex trafficking exist?
Our society does a good job of marketing sex and the sexualization of our bodies through movies, songs, ads, social media, and so much more. Pornography has also greatly impacted the sex trafficking market, driving demand to meet the twisted fantasies of buyers.
Unfortunately, the demand for solicited sex is rampant, making the selling of humans a multi-billion dollar global market.
The combination of a well marketed product as well as the willingness of people to pay for another person’s body is what fuels human trafficking.
Who are the victims?
Human trafficking can happen to anyone, but certain vulnerabilities make easier targets for predators.
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that preys on the vulnerabilities of people. While it can happen to anyone, some people have more odds stacked against them…
- Broken home life
- Lack of structure and support
- Previous abuse
- and many other factors
Lighthouse for Life specifically supports female victims of sex trafficking. However, recent studies show an increasing percentage of sex trafficking victims are male. Visit streets.org for more information about male human trafficking.
Why don’t they just leave?
Leaving “the life” is harder than you might think. Victims are targeted, manipulated, brainwashed, and convinced that this is what they have to do to pay back what they owe to their trafficker. We are not primarily dealing with people who have been kidnapped and physically forced into trafficking. Most typically do not even realize that they are victims.
Human trafficking victims have typically been brainwashed by someone they love & trust.
It is important that we all be educated on this point. There can be such a misunderstanding of how victims get into “the life,” which leads to a lot of judgment and more misunderstanding when we cannot wrap our minds around why they wouldn’t “just leave.”
Isn’t prostitution a choice?
The majority of women in prostitution are under 3rd party control. Secondly, estimates indicate that 14 years old is the average age of entry.
Some states are pushing for the full decriminalization of prostitution, however it has been proven that sex trafficking rises significantly in the states and nations that do so. We are in favor of the Nordic (or equality) model that holds the traffickers and sex buyers accountable for their criminal activity, while providing those prostituted with the resources they need.
What can I do?
No matter who you are, there is a way for you to get involved and join in the FIGHT to eradicate human trafficking.
- EVERYONE CAN PRAY for victims, families, traffickers, buyers, and rescuers
- get training on how to recognize trafficking victims
- get training on working with survivors
- get help with a pornography addiction
- talk to your kids about what’s going on in their lives
- share information to spread awareness about trafficking
- volunteer with Lighthouse for Life
- volunteer to help meet the needs of victims
- volunteer as a mentor at a local school
- invest in the lives of family and friends who seem distant
- learn more about adopting/fostering at-risk children
- stop assuming “they chose that life” and show compassion
HUMAN TRAFFICKING TERMS
Phases of Trafficking
Traffickers begin by looking for individuals who meet the twisted demands of their clients/buyers. Hair color, skin color, body type, age, gender, and degree of sexual innocence, among other areas may all be taken into consideration. Once a target is located, they will then identify the victim’s vulnerabilities as a means to gain trust and/or an emotional connection that will serve as a gateway into exploitation. This can be done through a variety of ways such as monitoring the victim’s online activities, observing them at their place of employment, or just reading their body language during an encounter. Every single person has vulnerabilities that can be exploited.
Once the trafficker has identified a victim’s vulnerabilities, they will put on the disguise of a benefactor, generously meeting those vulnerabilities, while underhandedly securing an emotional and psychological bondage for that victim. Grooming could take days, weeks, or even months to play out. This might look like providing food, shelter, or protection. It could be feigning the ideal job opportunity or way of escape from a broken situation. It might meet the need of an addiction or offer love, value, and affection to someone who feels unknown, unseen, and unwanted. In short, the grooming/recruitment stage blindsides an individual into entrapment by meeting their very real needs.
Transitioning out of the grooming stage, traffickers will at some point begin to isolate their victim from their current known world. This could be a physical isolation by moving them to a new location or encouraging them to run away on ‘their own’. Or it could be a psychological and emotional isolation by promoting emotional disconnection and distrust of those around them. Traffickers accomplish this with well-placed lies such as ‘Your parent doesn’t understand you like I do,’ or ‘Your so-called friends are holding you back from being the incredible person you are.’ Traffickers dictate secrecy in their relationship and may entangle some blackmail into the dialogue. By the end of this phase, victims are left emotionally desperate and believe that only their trafficker can meet their needs.
Now traffickers are ready to turn their victims into products to be sold, but they have to break down any possible remaining resistance and make it perfectly clear who is in charge – no exceptions. This could be done through the use of shaming, rape, forced viewing/participation in porn, threats against themselves or their ‘loved ones,’ blackmail, forced addiction to drugs, and the use of violence. The ‘rules’ of the life are outlined in this phase, and all ‘players’ are introduced. They are taught who will market them, what they are to wear, and what requirements they must meet in their new life of bondage.
Any identity an individual had has been lost in their past world. They are now a product, with a label like ‘Sugar,’ or ‘Cherry’. They’re advertised as a sex object with an accompanying price tag for their exploitation. This is the new normal and victims have no choice but to get on board, lock away their humanity, and enter into survival mode. At this point, traffickers’ purpose is to maintain their products and ensure maximum profit. They use tactics of every form of abuse, mixed with gifts, words of love and affection, and every possible lie to ensure a complicated masterpiece of control that will last for either as long as their new product benefits them, or can be discarded as worthless.
Types of Trafficker
A pimp is an individual perpetrator seeking to profit from the exploitation of individuals.
Criminal street gangs engage sex trafficking as a lucrative enterprise while exploiting individuals.
Familial trafficking is the abuse or exploitation of an individual at the hands of someone they are related to.
SC Human Trafficking Task Force
Lighthouse for Life works closely with the Human Trafficking Task Force of the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office. South Carolina statistics on Human Trafficking come directly from this annual report.
It's about the one.
I’m sure most of the viewers were not aware that by watching the videos [of me], they were participating in human trafficking, assault, and rape.