How a Pimp Catches his Prey

The Prey

“Pimps prey upon the most vulnerable girls and young women; girls who are runaways and homeless, girls who have been victims of child sexual abuse, low-income girls, often girls of color, who are considered disposable in our society.” ~ Rachel Lloyd in “Jay-Z’s ‘Big Pimpin’ regret provides ‘blueprint’ for hip-hop

Movie Poster fot the Documentary "Very Young Girls

The biggest common factor in all CSEC, Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, victims is poverty because poverty cuts across all races. In addition, girls often become victims if they have experienced violence and/or sexual abuse in their household. The lack of love and support at home, causes the girls to look for love and support elsewhere, making it easy for pimps to prey on young girls, the average age being 13, who can be easily manipulated. Given some of these risk factors, girls who make up the majority of the CSEC victims are of color, in poverty, and experience verbal and sexual abuse at home.

One CSEC survivor who works at Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, lived with her mom and siblings; she always had to come straight home from school to cook for her whole family at the age of 12. She had just met an older guy who lived down the block and she talked to him every night on the the phone for months without ever seeing him.  One day her mom beat her really badly because she had come home later than usual.  That night she ran away with the guy who she had been talking to.  That night she also lost her virginity, to a man who was old enough to be her father.

Upon not having the proper knowledge, I thought, “why would a girl be attracted to a man who is twice her age?” But I did not consider the fact that these girls grow up not understanding what love is and what it looks like.  In some instances, it’s not the kind of love that you would have for a boyfriend, but the love you would have for a father, someone who takes care of you and protects you.

Dominique|| Photo in Documentary "Very Young Girls"

Dominique, featured in the documentary Very Young Girls, was told her by her pimp they would be like a family and he would never leave her, all Dominique wanted was a family, so she went away with him.  Her pimp pretended like he was her father by buying her Blue’s Clues products, clothes and taking her to the movies.

Later in the film, Shaneiqua’s pimp tells her, “I would love you a lot more if you brought in money for me.” She feels like he has given her everything in the world, so she is obligated to return the favor.

This should be the easiest thing to comprehend; when someone does a favor for you, you return the favor.  This may seem extreme to apply this logic to CSEC, but when you have nothing, what do you have to give back?  She has no other choice but to do what he asks.

The Hunt

 The “honeymoon stage” is when the pimps buy the girls things and are nice to them.  It makes the girls feel like they owe their pimp.  The amount of money he spends during the honeymoon stage, however, is significantly less than the amount of money he makes off of her later.

The pimps draw the girls in with love and protection, but they keep them from leaving with fear.  The pimp of the GEMS employee and survivor I mentioned took away her ID’s, gave her a new name and age, told her to dye her hair red, bought her wigs, told her to say that her pimp was really a family member/friend and especially, not to trust cops.

During slavery, masters branded their slaves, whipped their slaves, and encouraged the slaves to rat out the other slaves.  Similarly, pimps tattoo/brand their name on the girls’ body, beat them nearly to death when they don’t listen, and have one girl keep the other girls in check.

In my own experience of relationships I find myself holding on, remembering when times were good.  From this memory I have rationalized why the girls stay with their pimps and why they believe him when he says he’s going to change.  The girls’ have experienced domestic violence growing up and now from their pimp, causing a misinterpretation of what love is.  Rihanna, in her recently released video titled “We Found Love,” reveals how she mistook drugs, sex, and violence for love, and how it led to her fight with Chris Brown.

Rachel Lloyd at LREI Assembly| Photo taken by Ileana Jimênez

When in a traumatic situation even the littlest things mean the most. In her memoir, Girls Like Us, Lloyd talks about how she was forced by her pimp to say “I will not be ‘unloyal’,” for hours while he held a knife to her neck. During that time she actually began to think that it was her fault and she was being “unloyal.”  When Lloyd came to our annual GEMS assembly she said that if the person has the power to take your life and they don’t, you have a sense of gratitude.

The though that your pimp has the power to take your life, can keep you from running away for fear that he will eventually find you and kill you.  If the CSEC victim does manage to escape, the pimp knows that she will be coming right back.

The Catch

After being fed up with the beatings, the girls escape, but when they do, there is no one there to protect them, help them, or love them because their families, the social justice system and society, consider them criminals instead of victims.  When they go to their family they come face to face with the same reasons why they left in the first place.

Dominique And Mother| Photo From Documentary: "Very Young Girls"

For example, Dominique left her pimp and had nowhere else to go, but back home.  Upon returning home, her mom didn’t want to deal with her and even judged her for what she had done, which made her go right back into the hands of her pimp.

The justice system also points the finger at the girls.  Lloyd says in her article titled, “Corporate sponsored pimping plays a role in US human trafficking,” that the girls are victimized “perhaps, because those girls are frequently low income girls, girls of color, girls who’ve been in the child welfare system, girls in the juvenile justice system – girls who aren’t high on anyone’s priority list anyway.”  Having these attributes doesn’t allow for them to be labeled as “real victims.”

People are quick to say, “she must have done something; what was she wearing?” “Did she suggest that she wanted to have sex?” For example, Ebony, a victim of CSEC featured in Very Young Girls, said that people on the street gave her looks like they know what she’d done.  This sense of isolation will make her go back to her pimp because she knows that he accepts her and loves her.

When trying to escape “the life,” the girls have no education, shelter, or money.  They look to help from their families and from the court but leave disappointed, and thus often end up going back to their pimp.

CSEC is a hard concept to swallow, but it is similar to everyday things, like credit companies.  When a person is in debt they take the money that you earn, you can’t ever escape from them, they never go away, they can put you in jail, they can keep you from getting a job, apartment or car, and you can’t make any decisions without them approving of it first.  The creditors are pimping us, we can’t get away from them and they manipulate us in our time of need.  The reason we look to credit is because we dont have enough money, once we get the money we have to pay back more than what we borrowed and go back to having no money.

Similarly, CSEC victims get into the life because of violence and neglect and when they succeed at escaping, they face violence and neglect once again.  The lack of support from family, the justice system and society, causes for the girls’ to relapse.  Places like GEMS were founded because Rachel Lloyd knew first-hand that the girls needed love and support in order to stay out of the life.  Lloyd is trying her best to get the word out about CSEC and she is really making a huge impact; over 3 million have watched her groundbreaking documentary, Very Young Girls, and she has published her memoir Girls Like Us.

The way that we can make a difference is to educate other people and monitor the ways in which you may be subconsciously supporting the degradation of women.

6 thoughts on “How a Pimp Catches his Prey

  1. I think that this post is very interesting, especially the part where you talk about how creditors can also be seen as pimps. You mention a lot of key parts that are important to understanding CSEC, such as the fact that sexually trafficked girls are attracted to and love their pimps because they are in reality searching for paternal love. Also, I think that it is important to recognize the fact that these girls are stripped of their identities, which is something that is extremely important in our government and society. You really cannot do anything without some sort of identification, it can be as simple a task as picking up a package from the post office, but the truth is that you are no one in the United States without an I.D. Pimps know this and use this to their advantage, adding to the already prevalent notion that these girls are no one in our society.

  2. I feel that you did a good job pointing out all the issues with CSEC, in an organized way with sub-titles. You explained the different stages that these young girls go through. I also found it was interesting how you explained this through the girls’ stories in the film.

  3. The part where you mentioned Dominique’s mother really caught my eye when watching the movie too. Here comes you daughter who has been missing for God knows how long, back from being abused and sold on the streets to men at least twice her age and all you have to say is how disgusted you are? This is exactly what drives these girls into the arms of their other abusers. I say “other abusers” because their family members probably abuse these girls just as much as their pimps have.

  4. This is a great guide to understanding the relationship between a trafficked girl and her pimp. Unfortunately, a misunderstanding of this relationship is what leads to a lot of people to judge these girls, and you definitely cover all the areas people might have misconceptions about. I also appreciated your connections between CSEC and things like creditors and the Rihanna/Chris Brown situation, as well as your relating things to yourself.

  5. I really love that you separated your blogpost into three different parts, because as if you are showing steps by step the process and that we are learning it again in a different way, we are going through the same steps CSEC victims with a narrator to tell us when this is bad, in thay’s what the girls don’t have, the voice telling them no. I love the part when you briefly compared yourself with the CSEC victims, when you said something about in your past relationships you would think of the good times; to me that was the a addition to your blog, because it made it a little more personal and change the whole flow for me.

  6. Your connection with CSEC to slavery is powerful. The parallels are definitely there. It is horrible to come to the realization that practices akin to slave masters branding and whipping their slaves are still around today in our country, but these are the kinds of realizations that move people into action. I think with this country’s history of slavery, these parallels make CSEC that much more of an issue that should be important to American society as a whole. Great post !

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