Perfect influencing skills, for horrific reasons

Not for the light-hearted. Not even for the strong hearted. I am writing this post with the hope that by exposing horrific influencing tactics, people will not fall for them, and will also help people support potential victims.

I am talking about pimping. Actually scratch that word. I am talking about sex traffickers. This is a critical difference. Unfortunately, pimping has too much of a positive connotation. Somehow it is ok to have songs telling the stories of a pimp, or people calling themselves proudly to be a pimp. People even dress like a pimp! Whereas nobody, in their right mind, would brag about being a sex trafficker. And that is the way it should be. And women “working” for sex traffickers are not prostitutes, hoes or whores. They are victims.

With this out of the way, let’s dig into their practices. I listened today to an Ear Hustle podcast. That podcast is produced by an inmate at St Quentin prison in California. They talk about life in prison and sometimes dive into the story of some of the inmates. In this case, a victim of a sex trafficker was talking to an ex sex trafficker serving a 200 years life sentence. Yes, heavy stuff! He starts by explaining how he managed to commit his terrible acts:

  • Find the victim: I was sadly impressed by how smart he was and how well perfected was his approach. He explains that he would first observe. Hang around schools, and look for a specific profile:
    • Low self-esteem. He would judge that by their physic but also their appearance. It was an indication to him that they may need to feel more popular.
    • Not well off. He would note if the girl was wearing off-brand clothes; if she was wearing several times in the same outfit in a week.
    • These would be signs to him that she is a prey, and could be interested in having nice things and feel in demand.
  • Patience. He would take 2 years before he would start trafficking his victim. 2 years. You for sure have many issues if you can prepare such a horrific act for 2 years while building a relationship with a young innocent girl. But he understood that he could not rush it, and also sadly he understood that the wait would pay off. He looked at it as an investment. Buy “nice” things to this girl for 2 years, and get a pay off for the years to come.
  • Keep the victim: That is when the mind game is elevated.
    • Create fear: You may think what could be worse. Unfortunately, people can always be convinced of something worse. Even if it is highly unlikely to happen. Traffickers use worse case scenario. Because they spent so long getting to know the victim, it is not hard to find the hot button that will keep them in check.
    • Create hope: With an end in sight, victims may think they have no other choice than stay and focus on surviving day to day. And you guessed right, there is always a reason to extend the timeframe.

Traffickers are expert manipulators. It is beyond me how they built these skills. My fear is that they were exposed to the basics of sex trafficking at a young age.  And they learned by seeing. Which unfortunately is probably the most effective way of learning.  It is also unfortunate that these basic skills channeled the right way could make these people successful in the (legal) business world.