The statistics are grim. Young girls in the United States are usually recruited into commercial sex trafficking between the ages of 12-14 years old. The vast majority of sex trafficking victims, 70-90 percent, were sexually abused prior to being trafficked. Runaways, throwaways, youth with a background of abuse or neglect and foster care youth living in group homes are all vulnerable to human trafficking. There are typically four types of traffickers that recruit young girls from the street into commercial sexual exploitation.
Traffickers tend to prey on young girls in malls, group homes and online in Internet chat rooms—places where kids in groups tend to accumulate with little to no adult supervision. Then the traffickers befriend the young girls, buy them gifts and make them feel special to have someone care about them. Also called Romeo Pimps, the men go out of their way to pay attention and make the girls feel special before they suddenly demand that the girl have sex with other men to pay back all the gifts he bought for her.
Other traffickers also befriend young girls but instead of courting the them, become their friends offering to buy the underage girls alcohol and drugs. Once the girls are addicted to drugs or alcohol, it becomes easier for the traffickers to force them into prostitution. Sometimes it’s as easy as the traffickers asking the girls to a party with the goal of getting them addicted. Many pimps are also drug dealers and may initially attract and lure girls with free drugs before forcing them into sex trafficking.
Traffickers often send out their top girl (known as the bottom bitch) to recruit other young girls into sex trafficking. The majority of victims, almost 71 percent are recruited into sex trafficking by someone they know. The top girl flaunts her new clothes and lures the young girl into sex trafficking by telling her how daddy pays to get her hair and nails done. Then she introduces the new girl to her trafficker and she also becomes part of the trafficker’s harem.
The most violent and cruel traffickers are known as gorilla pimps. They use abuse and intimidation to control the girls, often not allowing them to look other men in the eye or speak unless spoken to. These types of traffickers ambush young girls walking alone and beat them into submission until they agree to have sex with men for money. The traffickers may also tattoo their names on the girls, beat them with bats and inflict humiliating and painful punishments for girls who do not meet their $500 to 1,000 nightly quota.
Traffickers are manipulative and cruel and will use any and all forms of force, fraud and coercion to get young girls into the lucrative sex trafficking industry. Though there are different methods of recruiting young girls into sex trafficking, they all lead to a path of rape and violence.