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

Sex Trafficking & the Church: The Correlation

A recent study revealed that 50% of the “johns” surveyed reported a religious affiliation.  Men in our local congregations may be the all-American family dad on Sunday, but what are they doing on their lunch hour at work?  What about when the wife and kids go to visit her parents and he has the house to himself?  Is a man who is simply in attendance for church service Sunday mornings any less tempted to take part in adult entertainment than any other man?

Many churches have groups for men who struggle with pornography and other sexual addictions, and pastors routinely cover the topic of sex outside of marriage.  But how many sermons and session topics include purchasing sexual acts?  And does shame and fear ultimately cure – or just curb longings?

Sex trafficking is not just a moral issue, and it most certainly transcends being simply a sin for the devout, or just an issue of sexual perversion.  Our women and children are objectified, neglected and used for temporary pleasure and monetary gains.  Membership of a particular community group or religious affiliation does not guarantee innocence from partaking in the sex industry.  And it does not prevent the women and children that are members as well from falling victim either.

There’s a Reason Churches Need to Talk About Sex Trafficking

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