What follows is part two of "Christina's Story." It is a fictionalized account based on the stories of several trafficking victims from the Houston area. I first encountered it at the 2016 Freedom Fest & Houston Human Trafficking 5K, sponsored by Free the Captives. Each entry will consist of part of the story (in normal text) and facts about human trafficking (in italics text). The original display included artwork by several of the victims that is at times informative, inspiring, and heartwrenching. Please pray as you learn more. Thanks for reading.
Prostituted minors are routinely beaten and violated by their pimps. This serves to keep them frightened and oppressed, and gives the pimp total control over them. It also destroys their sense of self-worth, and as a result, often they do not leave because they’ve been brainwashed to believe that they don’t deserve a better life.
Prostituted women and girls do not get to keep anything that they “earn.” They are forced to live in sub-human conditions and are required to rely on their trafficker to meet basic needs such as food and shelter. They are treated as property that can be sold, exchanged, or gotten rid of.
Often, prostituted girls remain faithful to their pimps because of the Stockholm syndrome, which has the victim falling in love and making justifications for their tormentor. The trafficker’s tactics keep the girl psychologically chained even if she is physically free. Girls often feel a great deal of shame and guilt.
Deep inside, I felt that the man who promised to love me forever was not who he said he was. But, due to sexual abuse early in life, I was unable to draw clear distinctions between love, lust and violence.
While some traffickers stop pretending to love their victims the moment they are lured away from home, others may continue pretending for a long time. This assures them that their trafficked girls do not turn them in or testify against them in court.
“Sea of Doubts”
Statistics say that a girl will leave her pimp an average of seven times before she is able to separate from him for good. The trafficker uses the stigma of prostitution to keep the girl bound and feeling helpless. It is very difficult for a girl to leave her trafficker even though she is not held by force. She is physically free, but he has a mental hold over her that is hard to break.
“Supply and Demand”
What also shocked me all along was that the Johns who tormented me were regular men, some working high-paid jobs and holding prestigious positions. And there seemed to be an endless number of men who wanted to buy me. Didn’t they know how old I was? But then again, with the right make-up and clothes, a 13 year old can easily pass as a legal adult, and the Johns only saw what they wanted to see...
The terrible business of sex trafficking would not be possible without an immense demand for young women. Historically, the men who buy sex, commonly known as Johns, were rarely stigmatized and were often let off the hook easily, while the victim of sex trafficking was punished. Fortunately, this trend is changing, with more and more punishment assigned to the pimps and Johns and more help offered to the victims. The strongest deterrent for men to not buy sex is the prospect of being caught and arrested. In Houston, law enforcement has made a concerted effort to arrest the men buying sex. Men are being arrested in troves for their role in fueling sex trafficking.