A young woman

Do Sex workers Actually Choose A Life Of Prostitution?

Diana WinklerDomestic Violence, sexual abuse

A young woman
A young woman

The Prevailing Notion Is That They Do.

We’ve all taken the wrong way into a city and happened upon what we call a “Red Light District”. You might have witnessed evidence of the sex trade in your travels to another country. Perhaps you have taken a trip to Vegas, where prostitution is legal. What were your thoughts when you’ve experienced seeing those things? Disgust? Self righteousness? Anger?

red light district
red light district

I Have Been Guilty Of This Myself.

Before I got involved in Mending The Soul, I guess I had a bit of a shallow, one sided view of sex workers. That all changed when I continued in additional training called, Princess Lost/Princess Found. It is a curriculum of healing modules for girls who have been sex trafficked. What I learned in this training, and meeting victims who have gone through the course, was very eye opening. These are some insights on what has changed my perspective on the whole subject.

Sex Traffickers Are Not The Stereotypical Fur And Jewelry-Wearing Pimps Portrayed In Pop Culture.

A blinged out Cadillac rolls into town. The car stops at the corner and the back door opens. Out steps a large, well dressed man with a cigar in his mouth. His stylish Fedora hat goes well with his fur coat. Each finger is decorated with gaudy gold rings. There may even be gold in his teeth. He snaps his fingers, and all his girls on the street come running to report on how many “Johns” they’ve serviced tonight.

The typical image of a pimp

If you are honest, you will admit that this the description of a pimp that most people have in their heads. That is unless you have been exposed to sex trafficking yourself.

The truth is, it is very difficult to spot a sex trafficker a.k.a pimp nowadays, unless you have been trained to spot them, and you are paying attention. They look like normal people. They are very good at deceiving people, especially their victims. Yes, I used the word victims. I will go into further detail of that below. It may disgust you to find out that a sex trafficker can be female, male, young, old, from any race, from any country, and class of people.

Most Sex Workers Are Brought Into The Industry By Someone They Know.

That was the biggest surprise for me. The victim is groomed for a long time before he/she figures out what is happening. Here are some ways this happens.

  1. A young girl or boy (preteen/teen) who has trouble at home or comes from an abusive family, is a prime target for sex traffickers. He/she has unmet needs at home, like love, food, clothes, or even basic hygiene supplies.
  2. A lot of times, these kids are runaways with nowhere to go. Girls are an easy target for a “boyfriend” that comes into her life. Pimps usually look for prospects at malls, arcades, parks, and online. They pose as modeling agencies, or a good looking boyfriend. Sometimes the pimp will use some of his established “girls” to do the recruiting for him to establish false legitability and be more stealthy.
  3. Then comes the grooming, also called “love bombing”. The new “boyfriend” showers, love, clothes, jewelry, a nice place to stay, a fancy car to drive etc. This process can take up to a year in order to gain her trust.
  4. The next stage is the controlling or pressure stage. The “boyfriend” gets more controlling, watching her every move, getting jealous of anyone she talks to. If they are not having sex already, he pressures her to have sex and do things she is not comfortable with. Isolation from the outside world would also start here.
  5. If there are any friends or family still in her life, the pimp usually blackmails her by taking nude pictures of her or her having sex with him. He threatens to put these images or videos on the internet unless she does what he wants. She is ashamed of those pictures or video. Too ashamed to go back to her family, if there is a family to go back to.
  6. At this point in the game, the victim is already emotionally attached to the sex trafficker. She is physically dependent on him to meet legitimate needs. She loves him. She actually thinks he loves her. But she is about to find out she is only good for making money.
  7. The day comes when this “boyfriend” reveals that he would like her to have sex with some of his “friends”. She resists and refuses to do what he says. This is when the beatings starts. This is when she is probably tied up. This is when she is most likely given alcohol or drugs in order to force her to comply. This is when the girl is raped.
  8. The cycle of beatings, drug addiction, and rape continues. She is now officially a “prostitute”.
  9. Unfortunately, most law enforcement are untrained in dealing with sex workers, so the girls get arrested instead of the pimp.

Boys Are Just As Vunerable.

If you think that sex workers are only female, think again. Teenage boys who have volatile home environments, also are prone to run away, and attempt to live on the streets. Pornography, theft, selling drugs, and drug use are the prevelant methods of coping with surviving on the streets. Some teens are kicked out of their homes for being homosexual. Gay teens are very vunerable to sex trafficking since there is a demand for them on the black market. Boys are susceptible to the male modeling trap also. Compromising photos used against them on the internet, threatening to “out” them to coworkers, friends or aquaintances. There is no where for them to go. They are now trapped in the sex working industry.

Beware Of Predators On The Internet

That’s what they are: Predators. And they are after your children. You’ve heard it all before about the sex offenders on the internet posing as children who just want to chat and get to know you online. No matter how many times you tell your kids not to tell anyone online any personal information, they do anyway. Nowadays, anyone with any IT skills can trace where your phone/computer is, follow where you are going on your social media account, and pretend to be someone they are not.

They convince their victims to trust them, meet them somewhere without telling anyone where they are going. The victim is usually never seen again. Cops bust these predators all the time, posing as innocent little girls. It is sicking and depressing, and it scares the tar out of parents.

You really need to take this stuff seriously! You need to monitor your kid’s phone, who their friends are, their social media accounts, and where they are at all times of the day. Is this spying or snooping? No. They have no idea how dangerous the internet is. Kids today are smarter than you are with electronics, but you can find someone with software knowledge to help you stay ahead of the game.

A More Rivolting Reality

I used to believe that all mothers had a built in instinct to protect their children at all costs. Well, I was wrong. There are some horrible mothers out there. Horrible fathers too. Being involved with Mending The Soul, I hear so many stories that churn my stomach. Stories that keep me up at night. The stories that are the most disturbing are the ones that tell of parents selling their children into slavery or prostitution. You think that it only happens in poor, third world countries? Wrong. It’s happening right here in the United States, in our own neighborhoods.

Mothers, addicted to drugs, sell their daughter online for sex in order to get money for drugs. Female family members, like mothers, grandmothers, sisters, cousins, pimp out children to other relatives for “educational” purposes. Neighborhoods organizing a child bride ring. Fathers sell their daughter’s virginity off to the highest bidder. I would not have believed these things if I hadn’t heard it from so many victims.

Who Is Contributing To This Problem?

Sex Trafficking is a huge problem, no doubt, and a pandemic in our society. You may say, “Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world.” Well, that’s not true. Gardening is the oldest profession. Yes, prostitution has been around along time, but the only reason that is the case is because people keep paying for sex.

It is supply and demand. Simple. If there weren’t buyers willing to pay for sex with young people, then prostitution would not exist. No little girl has ever said to herself, “I want to grow up to be a prostitute.” No one. These young people are usually just trying to survive, albeit very badly.

Do you know what the largest draw for sex traffickers is? The Super Bowl. Yes, the Super Bowl has the highest number of sex traffickers and sex workers anywhere in the world. Number two in line is the World Olympics. Have you ever been to a TPG Tournament? Guess who is there? Sex traffickers. I live in the Phoenix area, and every year during the TPG tournament here, you will see young girls at the golf course obviously not there for the golf.

sex trafficking
The largest sex trafficking event in the country.

Golf is seen as a “gentleman’s game”. Well, maybe some of them are gentleman. The rest are paying for sex. Who else pays for sex? Soccer dads, teachers, doctors, politicians, preachers, lawyers, and anyone else you think looks like a safe, normal person. Don’t think for one minute that just because they are charming and clean cut, that they wouldn’t engage in paying for a prostitute.

Is There Any Hope?

There is hope for victims of sex trafficking. In my own city of Phoenix, there has been a rise in awareness about the sex trafficking problem here. Task forces are being created to catch and prosecute those who are involved in human trafficking, as well as providing resources to help victims escape the lifestyle, get healing, and skills for starting a new life.

We have the Dream Center here, which is a housing for girls and boys who have escaped from the sex trade. They receive counseling, a safe place to sleep, clothes, food, education, work skills, and most of all: HOPE. The place is run by volunteers and private donations.

As I mentioned, Mending The Soul has a program called Princess Lost/Princess found, which is a small group with healing modules for young people who have been trafficked. The curriculum is used by counselors all over the country to help their transition to a new life. It is very difficult. Many sex trafficked victims go back to their pimps, because it is all they have ever known. It is almost as if they have been brain washed. It takes time, patience, listening skills, and mental toughness to see these young people make it to the other side.

If you do any traveling, you may have seen signs in women’s bathrooms at the airport with hotlines for victims to call if they need help. Airline employees have been trained in how to spot sex trafficking victims and how to alert the authorities.

The Dark Web is a prime marketplace for sex crimes, including human trafficking. Websites selling sex with children or minors are being shut down. Penalties are much higher for those that are caught in human trafficking. It doesn’t stop everyone, but it slows it down. Every life counts!

Perhaps you have resources when you live that you can support in your area?