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Five Times Law Enforcement Could Have Intervened, But Didn’t … And What Could Have Been Done Differently

“Who were the professionals you had contact with during your time of exploitation, and what was your response to them when they offered help?”

Over the past four years, I have shared my story and trained several thousand community members and professionals in Colorado, and this is a common question I am asked.  Sadly, my answer is this:

“I don’t know what my response would have been – I was NEVER offered help.”

This seems to baffle most, because as I recount my story, it seems so very obvious that something was not right – I was clearly trapped in a web I could not untangle myself from.  But it’s true: I was never asked more detailed questions despite the clearly displayed red flag indicators that are now taught in introductory human trafficking trainings.

One of the community sectors I had consistent and repeated contact with throughout my five years of being sex trafficked was law enforcement.  In looking back over my journey, I can see five types of contact I had with law enforcement where officers most certainly could have intervened.  I’d like to share those with the hope that an officer out there will read these and maybe remember them if they encounter a similar situation while on duty in the future.

1.       Domestic Disturbance.  Police were dispatched to my residence three times.  Two times, I called 911.  One time a neighbor called.  All three times, my trafficker made horrifying threats of what he would do to my children if I said anything to the police once they arrived, so by the time they arrived, I was all smiles and apologetic for the misunderstanding.  All three times, my trafficker remained in the home until the police arrived, and sat stoically in front of me while the officers tried to question me. 

What could have been done differently: 

·         The officers could have separated us into different rooms in the house, or asked me to step outside.  It’s pretty scary to have the man who just threatened to kill your children glare at you over the shoulder of the officer questioning you.

·         I could have received information on resources for domestic violence, or been informed on what the process would be if I got to a point where I was able to reach out and take help.  Part of what kept me from disclosing the abuse was the fear of the unknown – what would happen to my abuser and how would law enforcement keep me safe from him if I reported him?

2.       Protection Order.  After escaping my trafficker in Denver for the final time, he put 7 bullets in my babysitter’s car, did a drive-by shooting at my best friend’s house.  He began calling, texting, emailing, and physically stalking me.  I filed for an emergency restraining order, and at the hearing for the permanent order, he arrived in a suit, and filled the benches in the small courtroom with his mother, father, brother, pastor of his church, and two other women who were being trafficked by him.  No one came with me, except the court appointed victim’s advocate.  When I spoke to the judge about why I was requesting the order, I explained he was an ex-boyfriend who wouldn’t leave me alone, and that I just wanted my children to feel safe and to be able to move on with my life.  When it was his turn to dispute the requested order, he brought up each of the people he had with him to testify against me, and even went so far as to bring out the Backpage ads he had taught me how to post, accusing me of prostituting behind his back and that’s why our relationship ended.  While the protection order was granted, I still wonder with all the red flags waving wildly in that courtroom why no one questioned the situation further.

What could have been done differently:

·         The moment the Backpage ad came out, the entire situation should have taken a proactive shift.  The judge could have seized that opportunity to ask some follow up questions about the origin of the Backpage ad.  The victim’s advocate could have taken a few moments following the proceedings to talk with me outside the courtroom.

·         Once the protection order was granted, the stalking and harassment did not stop, in fact they intensified.  Of those five reports made following the order, two or three were taken by the same officer, who I began to develop a very small level of trust with.  I know that the same officer can’t always respond to the same location for the same situation every time, but some of what he told me actually led to breaking some of the mental bondage my trafficker held over me.  All it took was that repeated contact, and spending an extra five minutes of genuine conversation each time he came out.

3.       Arrest.  Between October 2011 and May 2012, I was arrested in Las Vegas casinos eight times for prostitution, solicitation, and trespassing charges, and once for a bench warrant.  Those nine arrests consisted of contact with casino security, Vegas Vice undercover detectives, and the officers at Clark County Detention Center that did intake and processing.  In the spring of 2012, I was temporarily detained in Watford City, ND, along with two of my “wifeys,” in an undercover operation.  The officers there said they recognized all three of us by our individual Backpage ads, and knew we came out to North Dakota together every other week.  On December 1st, 2012, I was arrested for the 10th time in Vail, Colorado during an undercover operation after complaints were made by out-of-town tourists that were being robbed by the women they were hiring off Backpage to entertain them on their ski vacations.  That final arrest involved standing half-dressed in a hotel room while a handful of male officers pointed loaded weapons and stun guns at me, inappropriate (or at the very least, confusing) physical contact by a female officer, being placed in solitary confinement and held for 10 hours without charges.

What could have been done differently:

·         Instead of taunting and arresting us victims, Vice could have used that time to question each of us privately and to work to establish rapport.

·         Instead of sitting for 6-12 hours with up to 30 other pimp-control sex trafficking victims in a holding cell, CCDC could have been more strategic in their holding cell usage, decreasing the amount of time victims have to recruit one another from one bad situation to the next, and reinforce social norms common within Game culture.

·         We could have been allowed to wear the CCDC-issued pants and shirts that were stacked up in baskets in the processing area, and made available to individuals arrested for other crimes.  The officers doing the printing and processing could have refrained from comments such as “If you’re cold, maybe don’t dress like that,” and “If you don’t want to go to jail, stop prostituting, it’s that simple.”  Instead they could have asked when we last ate or slept, and if we were warm enough.

·         In North Dakota, the officers could have questioned the three of us separately.  I’m positive our stories wouldn’t have lined up.

·         In Vail, the officers could have received prior training to be better prepared for undercover prostitution stings.  A SWAT team-like entry was totally unnecessary and completing terrifying.  A female officer could have quickly made sure that I was adequately covered, it was humiliating to stand half-dressed and handcuffed while male officers searched the room.  Officers could also be more mindful of trafficking victim’s inability to discern healthy versus unhealthy physical contact, and be respectful of our skewed perception of physical boundaries.  Lastly, I could have been offered food while in the holding cell, or an officer could have used that time to talk with me one-on-one to figure out what was going on in my life at the time.

·         Finally, when it comes to arrest, law enforcement could just NOT arrest victims of commercial sexual exploitation.  The idea that “if we arrest them enough, they’ll get tired of it and leave our jurisdiction,” or “they’ll eventually break down and tell us who their pimp is” is insane (yes, Vegas Vice officers told me both of these things when I asked them why I was continuing to be arrested when I wasn’t the one hurting anyone).  Instead, law enforcement could focus on demand reduction and arresting our exploiters, because they are the true criminals and the ones that are wreaking havoc in vulnerable people’s lives.

4.       Robbery.  In early 2011, after escaping my first trafficker, he sent two fellow gang members to force their way into my home, hold my children, my friend, and myself hostage, and rob me.  They took $6,000 in cash, our wallets and cell phones, and a safe with my children’s and my identification documents.  I used a neighbor’s phone to call the police, and a report was made, but there was little that could be done at that point as cash is untraceable, and protecting my identity had to be done over the next week by filing loads of paperwork and requesting copies of all documents, reporting stolen cell phones and bank cards, etc.  The robbery happened just two days after I was held for 12 hours in my trafficker’s bedroom at his house and beaten with a belt.  The fingerprint bruises on my wrists and arms, and the belt marks across the backs of my legs were clearly visible.

What could have been done differently:

·         When I told the officers that I had $6000 in cash because I was “a stripper,” and that my ex-boyfriend had arranged this robbery, the officers could have spent more time digging into just what exactly that relationship really was.

·         When the officers took statements from my children who witness the robbery, they could have asked them more questions about what was going on in the home, and what they knew about my relationship with my “boyfriend,” if they’d ever witnessed violence, or seen drugs or weapons in the home.

·         Instead of telling me what a huge pain it would be to go arrest my trafficker that evening who was currently living in the next county over, even though they had PC due to the bruises, and even though they knew who he was because he was a twice-convicted felon drug-dealer and known gang member, the officers could have arrested him.  I was ready in that moment to tell the full truth, had any officer bothered to ask more detailed questions.  If I had known that my children and I would be safe even just for that night, I would have disclosed everything.

5.       Welfare Checks.  From October 2011 to May 2012, my ex-husband and father of my two children, received a notification each time I was arrested in Vegas.  And each time he would call the police and ask them to do a welfare check at my house.  Each time, either my “nanny” (my trafficker’s family member who lived in my house, and monitored and reported back to him my every move) or myself would answer the door and let the officers in.  They would stand in the front entry and see that this was a sparsely furnished home in a gated community, but it was clean, the children were clean, dressed, and fed, and they would leave.  After the second or third welfare check, the officers barely came up the driveway, they’d jokingly roll their eyes and say that it was my ex-husband requesting the welfare check again and they were required to stop by, and they’d leave.

What could have been done differently:

·         The officers were aware of my arrests that spurred my ex-husband’s calls.  They could have taken this time to come into the home for a few minutes at each welfare check to build rapport with me and my children. 

·         Thinking of my children specifically, I’d venture to guess that had the officers asked my children anything about their current living situation, they probably would have gotten some really concerning, straightforward answers.

·         The officers could have talked more with my ex-husband to get a better idea of what he believed was going on in the home his children lived in to see if he may have observed any red flag indicators that this was potentially a trafficking situation.  He would have gladly told the officers any and everything he knew about me in an effort to hurt and control me.

In looking over all these instances, there were over 25 instances of direct contact with law enforcement over my nearly five years of trafficking, and every single one of those instances involved at least two individual officers that I interacted with directly.  I had 25 potential opportunities just with law enforcement to be identified as a trafficking victim, to be offered services, to be given a chance at escape.  That’s over 50 police officers that could have spotted the signs, asked more specific questions, or devoted five more minutes of their shift to establishing trust with me. 

What I see are several common themes in existing law enforcement procedure that could be changed to increase the effectiveness of these points of contact:

1.       Making sure the victim and the abuser are physically separated during domestic disturbance calls.  This can remove some of the intimidation the victim may be feeling and help increase a momentary feeling of safety, which can lead to a more detailed disclosure.

2.       Whenever possible, have the same officer(s) report to the residence when a pattern of behavior is noticed.  This can help with establishing rapport.  Most trafficking victims have been taught (through instruction and experience) to not trust law enforcement as a whole.  Consistent contact with individual officers begins to break down this barrier.

3.       ANY and I mean ANY indicator of commercial sex work – legal or illegal – should be means for additional questions.  A very common misconception is that because I was over the age of 18, prostituting was my choice.  More often than not, women in the “adult entertainment industry” would not be there if they had the viable option to be anywhere else.

4.       It is quite often that there is a basic need that has not been met recently – sleep, food, a hot shower, appropriate clothing.  It doesn’t take much to meet a basic need, and this in turn furthers the rapport an individual officer can develop with a suspected trafficking victim.

5.       Whenever possible, separate suspected victims during questioning, arrest, and in detainment.  This can help with detecting inconsistencies in stories, but it also disables a lot of our group-think mentality that we have been conditioned with.

6.       Let us know what options are out there for us.  Most of us have been programmed to believe that being sex trafficked was our own choice, and we therefore believe we don’t need help.  Most of us also know that there really is little help out there for us, we were often recruited due to vulnerabilities caused by cracks in the existing societal support systems.  Leaving The Game on our own means going back to where we were fighting to escape from to begin with.  As officers, keep advocating for additional services for survivors of sex trafficking, so that you do have resources to refer us to.

7.       Have a jurisdiction-wide response protocol so that when we are able to say, “I want out now,” you know where to take us and how to protect us.  Know that sometimes being able to say, “I want out now” is not going to be the same thing as “I’m ready to implicate my trafficker.”  You should be ready to walk alongside us in our journey to freedom whether it leads to an investigation and arrest of our abuser or not – we trusted you enough to know we could ask you for help, please lead us to places that can.

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Uncategorized

8 Myths about Trafficking Victims and Survivors that Society Believes

 

1.  We chose this life.

No little girl comes to career day in elementary school and announces to her teacher and classmates that she wants to grow up to be a prostituted woman – to be raped, beaten, robbed, and exploited.   No little girl looks forward to the day she will be touched by men old enough to be her father.  Rather, a series of events in our life removed all other options until prostitution was the lesser of two evils, or the only option left.  Also understand that life is not a series of individual events, but rather a cyclical flow, meaning that until you see the entire picture, you won’t understand the decisions we had to make.

 

2.  We are just waiting to be “rescued”.

If we’ve been prostituted for a long time, chances are we don’t identify as a “trafficking victim”, or a victim at all – in fact, we’ve started to identify with our abusers (Stockholm syndrome).  Finding our freedom has to be on our terms, and it is not a singular event – it is a process that can take a minimum of 3 years to deprogram and re-integrate into society.

 

3.  We are lazy.

Just because we haven’t worked a “9-to-5” job doesn’t mean we are lazy – in fact most of us have be made to work 12-18 hour days for years, with no vacations or down time.  On top of that, complete indoctrination into “The Game” means that we have undergone repeated trauma and intense brainwashing, both of which physically alter the brain.  So when we say we want to leave our abuser and the lifestyle, but you don’t see action (or the action YOU want to see!), please understand that these changes can manifest as anxiety and/or depression, obsessive thoughts, and protective behaviors that appear as aggressiveness or pride.  Our culture believes strongly in self-improvement, and so seeing us acting in these ways is misinterpreted as “just not wanting to try”.  Oftentimes we appear to be entrenched in our belief system, and we are – but it is rooted in our biological brain composition.

4.  We are uneducated.

Sure, a lack of education and opportunities might have increased our vulnerabilities.  But a recent study conducted by the Justice Department and the Urban Institute shows that a lack of basic education is not something that is lacking.  And book smarts aside, we are incredibly “street smart”, observant and driven.  We are oftentimes incredible entrepreneurs who have unfortunately been mislead, and giving us the opportunity to show you how intelligent we are restores our faith in ourselves.

 

5.  We are permanently damaged goods.

This is an outright lie!  As survivors, we are wonderful mothers, supportive partners, and successful professionals.  We matter, and we do not deserve to be ignored or discriminated against by our family, friends, employers, health care professionals or within the justice system.  Trauma-informed resources can help us find freedom from our traffickers, and our vulnerable circumstances that led us to be victimized to begin with.  With the right guidance, therapy, and support network, we are able to go on to do amazing things.

 

6.  With enough jail and consequences, we can fix our problem.

There’s a big difference between sending us to prison where we are not able to be sold, and we have limited contact with our trafficker, and finding lasting solutions to and healing from our vulnerabilities.  It’s easy to “stay clean” while being locked up, but if we aren’t given the tools and resources we need, we will find ourselves right back in the places and relationships that got us in trouble to begin with.  Unlike other illegal activities, prostitution is often our only option to put a roof over our heads and food on our table for our families, so we often have high rates of recidivism when we are not accurately identified and helped.

 

7.    We just don’t have access to government assistance.

Food, healthcare, housing, child care, and transportation are all top priorities when we first find our freedom – but long-term government dependence is NOT a solution to the problem.  In fact, many of us were on assistance either before or during our time of being exploited, and if anything, it only added to our vulnerabilities.  On top of that, being told that our best option is depending on “handouts” reinforces the belief that we are damaged goods who will never amount to anything.  We want to work hard, and we need to be empowered and encouraged to pursue our dreams and accomplish our goals.  We need to know that we are capable of doing these things on our own.  And we need YOU to walk alongside us as we find our freedom, heal from our traumas, and build a bright future.

 

8.  We must have done something to be where we are.

A lot of times, you are looking for a reason that will help you understand how we ended up being trafficked, or maybe to reassure yourself that you or your children are not going to end up being trafficked.  Being sexually abused as a child did cause us to be trafficked.  Working in a gentleman’s club did not cause us to be trafficked.  Growing up in a divorced home did not cause us to be trafficked.  Nothing we did “made” us be trafficked, nor does it excuse the abuser!  Stop the victim-blaming.  It is not our fault.

 

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Awareness

Sharing Stories of Survival Responsibly

With human trafficking the “hot word” of the day, countless news articles fill our papers, alerts and timelines with incredible stories of survival and extreme trauma.  While the goal of this media coverage is bringing awareness to the complexities, severity, and extent of occurrences here in America, even the best of intentions can bring unintended consequences.  When sharing stories of survival, it is important to do so responsibly.  There are numerous ways to do this, however some of the most effective and simple ways are to avoid focusing on:

  • Stereotyped assumption of what a victim looks like.  A focus on a physical description or presumed personal background can be misleading as individuals who end up being trafficked come in all shapes and sizes, and from all backgrounds.
  • Anything that can be interpreted as a “tip”.  A well-intentioned story can turn into a how-to for someone to follow.
  • Graphic images and gritty details.  Research strongly suggests that testimonials which dramatize dangerous activities can provoke a “race to the bottom” among those trapped in similar situations.
  • The numbers game.  While the media will forever be in search of a story with the biggest numbers, it  communicates to victims that if they do not have a numerically equal experience, their story doesn’t count.  One day, one experience against a person’s will is one too many.

Stories can be effectively and responsibly told by focusing on the mental and physical consequences of being trafficked, rather than the specific behaviors and actions.  Trafficking is glamorized in our pop culture today, without people even really being aware of what is going on.  This threatens to not only inaccurately portray trafficking, but it can also give the false impression that if the victim only had enough will-power, self-control, or common sense, they could overcome their situation on their own.  Understanding the seriousness of trafficking without portraying it as hopeless is absolutely possible when we share stories of survival responsibly.

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Awareness

#BeTheKey: You Can Start Unlocking Cages

Thank you for taking part in our August #BeTheKey campaign, aimed at bringing further awareness to the issue of domestic sex trafficking by sharing the findings of the Free Our Girls 2015 Observational Study of Social Media Accounts.  Again, this study included over 300 women currently involved in the sex industry, with a majority of them actively being exploited by a trafficker or pimp.  Our goal was to help shed further light on this population so that our advocates against sexual exploitation can take this information with them as they move forward in their lives to combat this issue within their communities and circles of impact.

Sex trafficking affects every community, and anyone with a void or vulnerability is at-risk for exploitation.  As long as we continue to think that sex trafficking happens “somewhere else” it will continue to happen in our schools and neighborhoods, and to Our Girls.

In a report recently published by the University of Southern California, recommended future actions for preventing and responding to human trafficking that occurs online and through social media include:

  • Allocating resources for further research related to sex trafficking in domestic contexts
  • Enabling local agencies to develop technological capabilities to monitor trafficking online and to share information among organizations
  • Creating more innovative solutions for detecting and disrupting human trafficking online and assuming a more proactive role in advancing research in this area
  • Using technology to connect with and empower victims and vulnerable populations, while also addressing their economic, social, psychological, and physical needs
  • Improving the collection of data on trafficking and the sharing of information resources

Free Our Girls plans to continue our personalized engagement with the women we are connected with through social media, in the hopes of (1) building relationships based on trust, love and acceptance, (2) planting seeds to challenge their often skewed concepts of reality, and (3) being available and ready to provide the resources, information and help these women need to decrease their vulnerability and increase their stability to the point that they are able to leave both their trafficker and the commercial sex industry for good.

If you are interested in partnering with Free Our Girls in a tangible way, please consider supporting our organization as we continue our work in online communities with women currently in the sex industry.  At this point in time, we currently provide (1) positive words of encouragement – no strings attached!, (2) thought-provoking conversational material designed to challenge current thought patterns, and (3) periodic newsletters on topics of interest including finances, legal issues, children, healthy relationships and many more.  Free Our Girls would like to not only improve our existing online engagement program, but expand it to include a website with additional information and resources.  You can visit our website here to begin supporting this vital and successful program today!

#BeTheKey

#BeTheKey

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Awareness

#BeTheKey: Of Additional Interest

This information was gathered from our survey of 300 prostituted women through our social network outreach program.  Every couple days over the month of August, we are adding a new stat from our findings to help you better understand the women we are working with.  Read the whole series right here on the Free Our Girls blog.

After identifying specific categories under which Free Our Girls planned to observe various information shared on social media by the women currently involved in the commercial sex industry, we also observed a number of interesting facts that did not fall into any pre-defined categories, but we found worth acknowledging.

  • 1 survivor of the “Craigslist killer”
  • 1 transgendered
  • 4 openly talk about being recruited under the age of 18
  • 1 military veteran
  • 2 openly talk about having been married and divorced previous to their initial recruitment
  • 1 has just started running an escort service as her way out of performing services herself
  • 1 is a confirmed recovering drug addict, whose pimp was the one who “saved” her and helped her get clean
  • 16 have left the sex industry within the last 3 years, yet remain connected through social media to the life and people they once surrounded themselves with

What can this information tell us about the women vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation?  That vulnerabilities exist in a wide array of lifestyles and backgrounds.  That oftentimes the abuse and exploitation these women currently experience at the hands of their trafficker is STILL a better life than the one they came from.  And that the psychological conditioning and emotional bonds built with others while a part of this life are not easily broken, even years after walking away from taking an active part in it.

Grooming refers to the process of identifying the potential to exploit an individual, and making oneself a person of authority and trust within the potential victim's life. Once that step has been accomplished, it is easy for a trafficker to manipulate their victim into believing their lies, and learning to follow an order of expectations. Because the psychological manipulation is often incredibly severe, many women who experience this process find themselves brainwashed (Stockholm's syndrome), as they then accept this way of life as one that they chose for themselves.

Grooming refers to the process of identifying the potential to exploit an individual, and making oneself a person of authority and trust within the potential victim’s life. Once that step has been accomplished, it is easy for a trafficker to manipulate their victim into believing their lies, and learning to follow an order of expectations. Because the psychological manipulation is often incredibly severe, many women who experience this process find themselves brainwashed (Stockholm’s syndrome), as they then accept this way of life as one that they chose for themselves.

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Awareness

#BeTheKey: Organized Criminal Operations

This information was gathered from our survey of 300 prostituted women through our social network outreach program.  Every couple days over the month of August, we are adding a new stat from our findings to help you better understand the women we are working with.  Read the whole series right here on the Free Our Girls blog.

In the Free Our Girls’ social media observational study, three large-scale trafficking operations were became immediately evident.  These organized trafficking operations involved five or more women under the trafficker’s control at any given time, and were based out of Nevada, Miami and Houston.

What does this tell us about women experiencing commercial sexual exploitation?  That many of these women’s only sense of family and community comes from the other women under the control of the same man.  It also further illustrates the degree of manipulation many of these predators are capable of exerting, in addition to the fact that many of these women live lives drastically different from what would be considered “normal,” making their ability to transition out of it and back into mainstream society more difficult due to blurred and alternative relationship lines.

A measure of honor and prestige amongst traffickers is when they are able to manage a “stable” of four or more women, and due to the emotional, psychological, physical and financial dynamics required to exert control over this many women at any given time, it is often rare to observe.  The women living in these three identified households are often sent across the country, to sell their bodies.  The level of mental control these traffickers have over their women ensure that these women will work “on auto,” meaning that their trafficker’s physical presence is not required for these women to feel compelled to comply to his every demand.

Additionally worth noting, two of these three large-scale trafficking operations included a legitimate, professional business front, including a rap musician career and clothing line.  The women in these operations are expected to take part in helping further their trafficker’s legitimate brand through public appearances and modeling.  These activities also help attract and recruit new potential victims, as they see the promise at success, stability and a sense of family.

Because a lot of traffickers masquerade as boyfriends, it is most commonly seen for them to have only 1-2 women under their control at any given time. However, for more experienced and manipulative pimps, it is considered a measure of prestige to be able to control four or more women, typically using psychological and emotional abuse over physical.

Because a lot of traffickers masquerade as boyfriends, it is most commonly seen for them to have only 1-2 women under their control at any given time. However, for more experienced and manipulative pimps, it is considered a measure of prestige to be able to control four or more women, typically using psychological and emotional abuse over physical.

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Awareness

#BeTheKey: Tattoos and Branding

This information was gathered from our survey of 300 prostituted women through our social network outreach program.  Every couple days over the month of August, we are adding a new stat from our findings to help you better understand the women we are working with.  Read the whole series right here on the Free Our Girls blog.

Of the women whose social media pages were observed in this Free Our Girls study, 66% had visible tattoos in their photos.  Because many tattoos are hidden by hair styles, jewelry and clothing, it is believed that many more have tattoos than were observed purely off the photos that were posted.

What does this tell us about women in the commercial sex industry?  First of all, that similar to drug and alcohol use, tattoos are a widely accepted part of this culture.  The tattoos observed fell into a few main categories including: phrases and quotes, names, and symbols.  The phrases and quotes were often motivational in nature and sometimes included religious references such as “only God can judge me.”  The women who displayed tattoos with names were most often the name of their pimp, but also included a family member or child’s name.  The most common symbol featured in tattoos observed was a crown, often with their pimp’s name or initials.  A tattoo symbol that is increasing in popularity is the “hashtag” (#) symbol, followed by a word or acronym indicating their membership within this sub culture.  Tattoos were featured on almost every body part, including the face, with the most common being on the lower back/buttocks, the pelvic region, neck and throat, and wrist.

Not only are tattoos in general accepted within this subculture, but they are often expected, respected and demanded.  Branding a woman’s body with his name marks a trafficker’s property.  Many woman have been branded over time by multiple traffickers as they are re-exploited again and again.  A common theme among these women is, after getting away from their abuser, is to get the tattooed name covered up.  Cover-up work was a common theme observed on many of these women’s pages, and is a need from our community for women leaving commercial sexual exploitation to help them move on from the constant reminder of the abuse and exploitation that they endured at the hands of this person.

The most common tattoos observed were crowns and initials. A new popular tattoo includes the

The most common tattoos observed were crowns and initials. A new popular tattoo includes the “hashtag” (#) symbol followed by an acronym relating to prostitution and the pimp culture.

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