The Problem

What is sex trafficking

​Sex trafficking is modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Minors under the age of 18 engaging in commercial sex are considered to be victims of sex trafficking, regardless of the use of force, fraud, or coercion. The terms trafficking and exploitation are often used together when explaining this horrific injustice.

Sex trafficking

what it is. and isn’t.

Sex trafficking is not necessarily ropes and handcuffs or a victim chained in a basement. In the United States, typical trafficking looks quite different. Our society has embraced an incredibly inaccurate depiction of what sex trafficking "should" look like. Because of this, stigmas around prostitution, stripping, and sexuality have taken over the media. Even worse, pimp culture is often idealized.

Sex trafficking in the United States and Milwaukee looks like expensive handbags, designer shoes and unexplained gifts partnered with false promises, threats or use of violence, manipulation and mind games. Often, a trafficker will claim to love a victim or to be their significant other in order to learn vulnerabilities that he or she will exploit to the point where the victim feels entirely trapped.

Trafficking Truths

Wisconsin ranks 3rd in the nation for sex trafficking and cases involving minors have been reported in all 72 counties.
The average age of entering the life is thirteen years old. Unfortunately, as buyers demand younger children, the age of entering is becoming even younger.
$150,000 - $200,000 is the average yearly amount that a trafficker makes per victim.

See Something. Say Something.

If you are being trafficked, if someone you know is being trafficked, or if you suspect that someone is being trafficked contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (call) 888-3737-888 or (text) 233733


Red Flags

Knowing the red flags and warning sign of sex trafficking will help you keep others safe and prepare you to reporta tip should you witness exploitation.

What to watch for

Indicators of Sex Trafficking and Exploitation

  • Signs of physical abuse (cigarette burns, wounds, bruising)
  • Submissive behavior (keeping head down in public, not making eye contact; especially with men, not answering questions directly)
  • Does not have access to any of the following: ID, Passport, Birth Certificate, Social Security Card, Insurance Information
  • Has multiple cell phones
  • Has prepaid credit cards with no name indicating who they belong to
  • Branding including: scars, tattoos, and piercings
  • Unexplained absences from work, school or extra curricular activities
  • Lying about where he/she has been and who they are hanging out with
  • New crowd of friends or new friends on Facebook
  • Has an older boyfriend
  • Has an excessive amount of cash, condoms, and or lubricant
  • Claims to have a “modeling” or “acting” job
  • Fearful of police and other type of law enforcement/first responders ​

Questions to Ask If You Think Someone Is Being Trafficked ​

  • Have you ever had sex for money, somewhere to live, or food?Also, known as “Survival Sex”. ​
  • Can you go out with friends by yourself? ​
  • Do you have a curfew that was set by someone other than your parents?
  • Do you receive a pay stub for the work you do? If they cannot provide a pay stub then they might be paid in cash.
  • Can you leave this job if you wanted? ​
  • Do you live with your employer? ​
  • What does this person want you to refer to him as?One example: “Daddy” ​
  • Do you have your ID and/or Passport? If not, who has them and are you allowed to have them in your possession?
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By being aware of terminology that is used in the life of trafficking and exploitation, you can be ready to report a tip and save a life. ​

Terms to know
Bottom Bitch/Girl The girl that serves the most important in the "stable" (see stable). Typically the most loyal victim within the grips of the trafficker who receives the greatest level of punishment/beatings.
Branding Markings inflicted on the victim by the trafficker (IE: tattoos, burns, etc.).
Breaking/Turn-out/Turnt Initial point where a victim is 'turned' into the life of trafficking.
Buyer A person purchasing a victim for their satisfaction and entitlement; AKA: john or trick.
Caught a case Term used for traffickers or victims referring to being in legal trouble; perhaps getting some type of citation.
Choosing up If a victim goes form one pimp to another; this could happen to avoid violence.
Circuit Area in which victims are moved around and sold (city to city). (IE: could be a pipeline between bigger cities and all areas in between).
Coercion Threats of harm or physical violence intended to inflict fear upon the victim. Ultimately forcing the victim to "perform" unwanted "acts" in order to avoid severe punishment from the trafficker.
Daddy The term a pimp/trafficker will require his victims to refer to him by.
Date The exchange between the prostituted and the buyer (see buyer); when the act of "prostitution" takes place. A victim is said to be “with a date” or “dating.”
Escort Service An organization operating through the use of cell phones, internet, and/or social media which sets up the "dates" between a victim and a buyer (see out-call). Arranges for the buyer to come to wherever the victim is located (see in-call).
Family The trafficker and his victims.
Gorilla/ Gorilla Pimp A trafficker who uses more extreme forms of physical abuse on a regular basis.
Grooming Process in which traffickers will use to lure their victims into their grips. They will gradually and methodically build their victims' trust.
Facilitators Trafficking operations often times intersect right along with actual and legitimate businesses. Certain industries may potentially help to enable, support, or facilitate the trafficking of persons. Some of the most common facilitators in which traffickers frequently relyon may include, but is not limited to: Advertisers like websites; airlines, bus, and rail companies; banks; hotels and/or motels; landlords; taxi and other driving services.
Finesse/Romeo Pimps This type of trafficker primarily uses controlling tactics through psychological manipulation. He or she will still act loving or affectionate towards their victim but the threat of violence is always there.
In-call A buyer coming to the victims location for purchase of him or her.
Out-call Victim going to the location of the buyer.
Out of pocket Any time a victim "breaks the rules" or does something that is not okay in the pimp's eyes/mind.
Quota The amount of money a victim is required to make each day/night.
Renegade Someone who is involved in the sex industry on own; without a trafficker.
Stable Group of victims being trafficked/sold by a pimp.
The Life or The Game The world of trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Sister-in-law/Wifey Victims in the same stable and the terms used to refer to one another. ​

The role
of addiction

Drug addiction and sex trafficking often go hand-in-hand; each problem perpetuating the other. This emerges in a variety of scenarios, many of which we discuss inour presentations and training sessions:

1. A trafficker targets a victim because of their drug dependency and exploits them sexually

2. A trafficker introduces and uses drugs as a method of control over a victim

3. A trafficker uses drugs as "payment" to the victim for sexual acts

4. A victim of sex trafficking becomes dependent on drugs to numb the painor shame stigmas

Organizations and Services to Contact

Tips for Prevention

  • Keep all medications in a locked/safe place
  • Know what the count is of each medication (per bottle)
  • Pay attention to whom your child is hanging out with
  • Get to know who your child’s friends are (including the parents of those friends)​
  • Have “house rules” (sit everyone down and make the house rules as a family)
  • Establish a curfew
  • Know what your child’s likes and dislikes are. If you are close to your child it will be much easier to notice when something is “off” or “not right”​​.

Behavioral Changes to Note

  • Withdrawn from activities that are their “normal”
  • Change in group of friends
  • More negative attitude than usual
  • Changes in sleeping pattern
  • Sleeping all day and up all night
  • Loss of interest in family
  • Begins breaking promises or commitments
  • Decreased inhibitions
  • Borrowing/stealing money or items of values ​​​​

Physical Warning Signs

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Itchy skin
  • Hardly able to keep eyes open
  • Falling asleep in the middle of doing a task (AKA: nodding off/fading out)
  • Marks on arms at site of injection (track marks; scarring)
  • Slowed breathing
  • Constipation
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Resources for parents

The CDC's website has a lot of information and provides a detailed breakdown of the opioid epidemic. Talk to your student's school guidance counselor or local law enforcement for resources available in your community.
American Addiction Centers Guide for Parents