There is fast money to be made in the sex industry. When someone is financially pressed or unable to meet deadlines for themselves and their dependents, the draw of making money quickly can be very strong.
Traffickers prey especially on those who are lacking love and emotional support. They exploit this need to create a dependency between them and their target. It is hard for someone to leave the industry when they believe their trafficker truly loves them.
Traffickers are very skilled at manipulation and abuse. They often convince the people they are trafficking that they are unworthy of real and loving relationships. Traffickers create distrust between their target and that person's family, friends, and authority figures.
VIOLENCE/THREATS OF VIOLENCE
A trafficker will physically abuse or threaten to abuse their target or their target's family in order to ensure compliance. Disobeying or leaving their trafficker isn't worth the physical harm.
NOWHERE TO EXIT TO
The culture of the sex industry is very unique. People who are caught in it may not feel they could belong in the outside world again. Similarly, the abuse they are experiencing begins to feel normal, and they may not see a need to exit.
In our culture, the sex industry is very glamorized. It is twisted to appear empowering, and aspects of abuse, manipulation, and trauma are downplayed. The fantasy of control is alluring.
Traffickers may tell their targets that they can get them a better life if they will work in the sex industry for a certain amount of time. The trafficker will then continually extend the deadline, making it impossible for the person to leave without forfeiting the better life they were promised.
Traffickers will get their targets addicted to illegal substances and alcohol. This way, if the person were to leave their trafficker, they would be cut off from their drug supply. The experience of withdrawal and the isolation due to addiction keeps them from leaving.
Trauma bonds can develop between a trafficker and the person they are trafficking. Similarly to Stockholm syndrome, the person being trafficked may develop deep loyalty and defensiveness towards their trafficker.
Most often, traffickers control their targets through emotional manipulation and abuse. However, sometimes they will also physically control the movements, conversations, and relationships of their targets. They may also brand the people they are trafficking with tattoos.
If there is immediate danger or if you suspect a child under 18 is being trafficked, call 911 or your local police service.
For information and support, call Canada’s confidential Human Trafficking Hotline:
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