When we hear about the horrors of human trafficking, it is easy to think that we could never allow ourselves to be a part of such a situation. However, trafficking does not always appear obvious to the victims at first. Pimps and traffickers commonly use a set of grooming mechanisms to earn their victims’ trust and complete dependence, which gradually gives them total control over their lives.


First, let’s dispel a myth. In today’s world, pimps do not look like this: 























Rather, they vary in gender, race, age, and socioeconomic status, which makes them especially difficult to identify. Let’s look at a few examples:


Morgan Palmer, also known as "Pickboo Suuwop," was convicted in 2017 of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of a child and obstruction of enforcement. 













Lt. Col. Raymond Valas, a 41-year-old Army officer convicted in 2014 of sex trafficking of a minor while off-duty in Texas. 



















Erika Perdue, University Park, Dallas, Texas socialite convicted in 2014 of transporting and shipping child pornography.
















Sex traffickers can also have legitimate occupations as well. A study performed by the Arizona State University Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research found that the most common profession for sex traffickers was the private/service industry (including taxi or truck drivers, repairpeople, small business owners, etc.). Next was the music industry, with many traffickers self-identifying as rap artists. Third were positions of authority (including police officers, security guards, etc.), followed by jobs that involved child contact (teaching, counseling), and the legal sex industry (dancers, strip club managers). As these findings show, traffickers can come from all walks of life.


How exactly do these criminals get access to victims? The study found that 23% of sex traffickers target runaways, who are in a uniquely vulnerable case of depending on the pimp for shelter. 10% used promises of money and wealth to entice their victims, while 10% offered them a place to stay, and another 10% used offerings of romantic relationships to recruit.








  • Physical violence (choking, beating, etc.)

  • Force-feeding drugs and alcohol

  • Mental/psychological degradation


  • Giving victims the impression of a mutual relationship

  • Professions of love or friendship 

  • Telling victims that their help is needed


  • Threats against family/loved ones

  • Impossible debts

  • Threats to publish video of victim performing sex acts

  • Withheld documentation, passwords, and social media access

  • Aid from a "bottom girl" or "bottom b*tch" who grooms newer victims