Children's Voice September/October 2007

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Predators and Recruitment Tactics

Pimps have perfected the art of bringing young women into prostitution using violence, threats, and false promises.

Pimps can be male or female, although most are male. They may or may not fit the stereotype of owning a lot of flashy clothes, gold, and fancy cars. They may present themselves as professional businessmen, financial consultants, photographers, movie directors, or talent scouts--anything to lure young women to them. Or they may disclose who they are and what they are all about.

Some pimps do their own recruiting; others use "catchers" or "recruiters." Either way, they use four main tactics to get young women involved in prostitution and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation:
  • Force. Pimps may physically force a girl to engage in prostitution, using tactics such as rape, kidnapping, and other means of violence.

  • Coercion. The pimp intimidates or threatens a young woman so she fears for her safety or the safety of her friends and family if she doesn't do what the pimp demands.

  • Befriending. A pimp might instruct a girl already in prostitution to befriend a girl outside the Life and introduce her to the idea of working. The girl involved in prostitution might explain how great the experience is and how much money can be made. This occurs frequently in residential treatment, group homes, or lock-up facilities. The girl with a prostitution history might convince the new girl to come on the run with her and bring her to the pimp.

  • Seduction. In the most common pimp tactic, the pimp portrays himself as a young woman's boyfriend and works diligently to give her what she needs--love, money, material gifts. He uses his charisma and gradually puts himself in a position of authority with her. Having targeted a vulnerable young woman, it isn't hard for his attention to make her feel special and cared for. This is a grooming process, similar to behavior exhibited by child molesters.
Once the young woman loves and trusts him, he begins manipulating her. He may tell her he is unable to pay his rent and ask her to help him out "just this once." After her first time, he brainwashes her into believing she is damaged goods, unworthy of life outside prostitution. Similar to other types of partner violence, he beats and rapes her, further manipulates her, and leaves her trying to get back the "love" that never existed.

--Lisa Goldblatt Grace

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