In this part 2 of Dangerous Abduction Lures, I am looking at “Human Trafficking Abduction Lures.” If you have not read part 1, please click here.
According to the International Labor Organization there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally, with hundreds of thousands in North America with the categories of victimization being.
·Children under the age of 18 induced into commercial sex
· Adults (age 18 or over) induced into commercial sex through force, fraud, or coercion
· Children and adults induced to perform labour or services through force, fraud, or coercion
The focus of this blog post will be on some lures to attract these younger victims of human trafficking and why they are successful. SAFE International has put our focus on protecting our youth from teaching violence prevention and self-defence since 1994.
Why should you care? Most people I have coached have little to no awareness of human trafficking or felt sure it is essential, but it will never involve my family or me. As we teach in self-defence, apathy and denial are widespread in people thinking it will never change them because their kids do not hang around the “type of crowd” who would be susceptible to human trafficking. It is more in the social relationships people have with their children or young adults that create the environment for victimization. Vulnerability is a critical element in choosing victims. As in self-defence, the perpetrator does not want to get caught, hurt or have attention drawn to them. So who do the traffickers choose?
They target those who live unstable lives. They may be runaways, exploited, ignored, or abused youth. Group homes where kids live are prime targets for finding victims. Many of the victims may already live in the streets with zero family or support system. Or they may live in homes that present to be “normal” from the outside but are far from average. These teens may be more vulnerable to an online selection process to the ones found alone in the streets, near schools, or living in group homes. Some may live in poverty, while others may have what appear to be wealthy, magnificent lives to someone looking from the outside. It is a social issue, over one you place into a specific category. What is the daughter, son, niece, sister experiencing mentally, physically, behaviorally behind locked doors? Then you have some who assume the victim will be kidnapped or abducted, then forced into the world of human trafficking, which is also a misconception. Yes, some are abducted, but more often than most wish to believe, the one who draws the youth to the trafficker may be a friend, family member, partner, or acquaintance.
What are 3 lures used to entice human trafficking victims?
Attention & Compliments
Attention & Compliments Lure – yes, someone is extending a friendly demeanour, smile or comment that they have never gotten from their families or friends. And when that treatment and goodness take place with a compliment, you have a powerful combination if someone has only faced negative attention, or even worse, no consideration for years. If someone shows care, also if it is a stranger, it is a productive and effective form of manipulation and the first step in the process for some human traffickers or the person they send in to begin the relationship. It is easy to dismiss the simplicity of this, but most of us receive attention daily without notice of how important it is. But if you have no relationships, or they are negative, why would you ignore or be hesitant to someone who is offering what those who are supposed to love you, never do. So many of our youth (and adults) go years without ever feeling or being told they are loved. So, imagine someone who comes along and offers this. Now, there is a high chance it will start in small, incremental steps, and build brick by brick. Remember, the traffickers are skilled at choosing and building the trust in their victims.
So, the first step is to evaluate the relationships you have with your children, grandkids, or even the neighbours and their kids. Being supportive, always there without judgement, a person who will listen might be enough on its own to build the confidence and character, so they don’t need to seek it elsewhere. If our youth don’t receive what a parent should provide, why would they not accept it elsewhere?
Familiarity Lure – very often, the teen will be approached by someone of similar age who expresses the same interests in music, movies, or hobbies. From there, it will increase into sharing similar family histories of abuse, neglect or lack of interest in them growing up. The story they give may or may not be real but seems very real to the targeted victim. They think, finally someone who understands me. And often, this person who is being used as bait is also a victim. Now, when I say victim, you might think if they are out and about looking for other victims for their trafficker, could they not escape? They will stay because while they are a victim, they may still feel safer, or at least have some support system, so they think. Or they stay out of fear of what will happen to them if they attempt to leave. There may be a hierarchy within the group of victims the trafficker has assembled. So by attracting other victims, they may receive some benefits. People find it hard to believe that anyone would stay with a trafficker, but you need to look much further than how you have experienced life to understand why others might make different choices.
Isolation Lure – going hand in hand with the previous lures is the isolation. Isolation may occur physically by giving the victim the feeling of “security and safety” in a location with their new friends. The separation also occurs by reinforcing the negativity against those who were supposed to love you, nurture and take care of you. We are the ones now who will do that for you.
All these lures combined over a relatively quick period are all it takes to victimize someone, so they are now sold on the human trafficking network.
They now trust to the point where even if loved ones attempt to save them, it is often too late. The walls between their new “family” and the other are too big to breakdown.
In this article by the New York Post, they refer to the “trauma bond.”
Dr. Elizabeth Hopper, who is the director of the anti-trafficking program Project Reach, is a clinical psychologist with a background in traumatic stress.
She said four things are usually present when trauma bonds occur: The victim must perceive a real threat of death and an inability to escape; they must be isolated, and there must be some perception of kindness.
It’s the same mindset that keeps battered women with their abusive husbands for years, and it was famously exhibited by Elizabeth Smart during her 2002 kidnapping when police tried to rescue her, and she lied about who she was.
Once the trafficker has their victim in place, there is the reality and threat of abuse and violence always looming. They maintain the brainwashing of the victim throughout all this abuse to where the victim may still feel this situation is better than going back to their previous life. They stay loyal to the trafficker.
For those who do escape, the trauma can last a lifetime, but many do survive and thrive, often helping others.
While I have provided a few of the lures that human traffickers utilize, the best way to prevent this type of victimization begins in the home, I believe. The communication, caring, listening, day to day attention to those we love is critical.
If you or someone you know may be a victim of trafficking, call the national human trafficking hotline at 888-373-7888 or text “HELP” to 233-733.
Managing Director, SAFE International