The final step in the three-part victimization of modern sexual exploitation is training. Following recruitment and trauma bonding, training is the final step in forcing your loved one into a life of sexual exploitation. Before reading on, we recommend checking out our last two posts about recruitment and trauma bonding, so you can understand how the exploitation got this far.
Training the victims for modern sexual exploitation prepares them for commercial sex trading which can include stripping, pornography, and/or prostitution. This training teaches the victims how the “business” works and the consequences of noncompliance.
How it Works
Once the trafficker completes the process of trauma bonding, he or she will reinforce the traumatization by isolating the victim from family or friends. Ultimately, this results in a dependence on the trafficker and further isolates the victim. Plus, it is not uncommon for traffickers to threaten the victim’s family and friends. This creates so much fear that victims comply to protect their families.
In addition, the trafficker uses physical and emotional abuse to instill unparalleled fear and compliance. Victims learn that if they do not listen, there are consequences. Some of these consequences can include:
- Beatings and physical harm
- Threats against the victim’s family
- Deprivation of food, water, and sleep
Moreover, sexual abuse occurs alongside physical abuse. This desensitizes the victim while creating an association between nonperformance and physical harm. The sexual abuse can begin slowly with the trafficker introducing sexual dialogue, sexually referring to the victim, or engaging themselves with the victims. However, it is not always a gradual process. It is common to rape, gang rape, or sodomize victims. Plus, pimps/traffickers often demand that victims sell sex to repay them for what they provide such as food, shelter, drugs, and material goods.
While the abuse itself is horrible, the threat of the abuse is equally terrifying. It leaves the victim without choice, and it makes complying with the pimp’s demands the lesser of two evils.
To further drive dependence, traffickers often create or support drug and alcohol addictions. Traffickers feed their victims with drugs to create a dependency and a reason to work. By fostering drug addictions, pimps require sex in exchange for drugs. Therefore, the only way victims can get their fix is by fulfilling the demands of the pimp.
Finally, traffickers use victims as victimizers. Traffickers often utilize a hierarchy of his or her victims to promote “good behavior.” The top performer, and likely most manipulated, is the “bottom girl,” “bottom b****,” or “top girl.” This girl has more responsibility, helps recruit new victims, and can act as the right hand of the trafficker. Although the bottom girl is not mentioned as often when referring to sex trafficking, she typically plays an integral role in trafficking your loved one. In fact, she helps train your loved one after helping recruit them.
Each of these processes works to reframe the victim’s understanding of the world and redefine his or her priorities. From now on, the victim’s only priority is to please the pimp and do as he or she says.
What it Looks Like to You
The signs of training can manifest themselves into multiple scenarios, but common examples include:
- Extended disappearances from home
- Contact becomes infrequent or stops (especially if your loved one does not live at home)
- Details about day-to-day events are vague and incomplete
While these examples are telling of training in modern sexual exploitation, remember that if your loved one does not fit the stereotype of commercial sexual exploitation, they are not excluded in this.
What You Need to Know
At this point, your loved one is not acting like the person you once knew. He or she is emotionally fragile and cannot think clearly. As in our last posts, we want to stress that it is not your loved one’s fault. Victims do not choose this for themselves, and they do not “ask for it.”
This is a heinous situation resulting from intense manipulation — this is psychological warfare and the trafficker is a master of this. However, recognizing the signs is an unexpected twist in the trafficker’s plans, so do not give up hope.
How We Can Help
When the ILF gets involved, your loved one is our priority. We urge swift action and recommend reporting these cases to local law enforcement, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and the ILF.
The ILF has security experts that spend their careers hunting and finding people and data that most want to be left unfound. We work alongside law enforcement to locate your loved one and any recovery details about them. We will help you as much as we can during the whole process.
This is the last step before the window of opportunity closes to disrupt the trafficker’s plan, so do not hesitate to contact us. The ILF will not give up on you or your loved one, and we will not let the traffickers get away.