Trigger Warning: The following blog post goes into detail about the author’s personal experience with commercial exploitation and can be triggering for those with shared experiences.
Hello and welcome back to another blog with Morty! I hope everyone has had a good week. The weather here has been all over the place, but today is finally sunny and a little warmer! My week was pretty much the usual, which is working on the second phase of programming here at SHH and attending college lectures! So yes, I am very and I mean VERY excited for this week to end. I’m having one of those weeks, where I just want the weekend to come already!
In today’s blog, we will be talking about the stages of commercial exploitation and my experience with it. For anyone that doesn’t know what those stages are, it is basically what happens when someone is getting trafficked. Everyone’s experience is different, but traffickers have very similar tactics that they use on survivors. There are at least 5 stages; Luring, grooming & gaming, coercion & manipulation, exploitation and recruitment.
Luring: This stage for me was basically my trafficker assessing, testing if he could trust and count on me, collecting information about my personal life, and making me feel special. Making a survivor feel special is one they really focus on because they know that we are vulnerable in the beginning.
Grooming & gaming: This stage for me was the “honeymoon stage”. I remember my trafficker would use words like “I love you”, “you’re a natural”, “this was meant for you all along” blah blah blah etc. He promised all these “dreams” that came true but with a cost. He would talk about family and how he would love one day to have one with me. He treated me like a queen but little did I know that would end real soon. Bought me new clothes, shoes, purses, makeup etc. He would encourage me to get my nails done as a way to treat myself for all the hard work. Funny thing is, it was more for him than it was for me. He had a fetish with a certain colour and I always had to get them done the same. He also loved long hair, so I couldn’t cut it.
Coercion & Manipulation: This was the stage where he would give me mixed signals. He started toying with my emotions and feelings. He would beg for forgiveness for the mistakes or something else he had done towards me so that we were “good”. What I knew about sex was nothing compared to what he was introducing me to and forcing me to learn/watch with him. He would then reward me with more drugs and money. At this point, he had accomplished his goal; I was addicted to drugs and needed him for it.
Exploitation: This one is lengthy. During this stage, he broke me down into what he wanted me to be. How to dress, how to look, how to act, how to etc. I’m never going to forget this line that he said to me as I was getting ready; “Hurry up and get ready, I didn’t put my name on you to look like that. You’re mine and no one else’s. So make me proud. We’re a team, remember?”. I realized at that point that I was deep in this life and would never be able to leave. My quota was now higher than when I first started in the game. I was going to the strip club to get some extra cash and he’d always send his friend to drive me and make sure I didn’t go anywhere else. I felt this financial pressure and so I got addicted to making money for him. The more I made, the more love and “control” I would have. I experienced emotional and physical abuse. He would confide in me and isolated me more and more from my family and friends.
Recruitment: This is a stage where a trafficker will teach a survivor how to teach other girls. Traffickers tell the survivor this will give them power and make them feel important. Survivors are told that this way, they will have “less” clients to deal with. Survivors are forced and taught to befriend vulnerable girls and show them how great of a life this is. Traffickers will make a survivor think that this way, they reclaim power and control. It is really important to understand and realize that a survivor who’s put in this situation (stage), had no other choice. No one is to blame, but the trafficker.
This was very challenging for me to discuss, so I will end today’s blog post here today.
Till next time,