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What Love Is and Isn’t

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

February 14, 2021

Imagine you are the unpopular teenage girl or boy at school. You have been a victim of bullying online and in class. You have no real friends, and your relationship with your parents sucks! Unfortunately, this sounds like a description of the life of many teenagers these days. And that's why Human Sex Trafficking is a booming business. The Traffickers have an endless supply of potential victims to pray on. If they fail with one kid, they move on to the next.

What are the two things that this teen is craving? Love and acceptance. They are not getting that from their parents, their schoolmates, a boyfriend or girlfriend. The Trafficker is there to step in and fill that void. They offer Love, praise, gifts, caring, and concern. The Trafficker provides whatever the victim craves. Creating trust and demonstrating caring is the first step in grooming the teen for sex trafficking.

The only difference between a vulnerable child that is an easy target for the Sex Trafficker and the one that gets away is Education. Being educated about the issues and potential danger of falling victim to a trafficker saves children’s lives every day. We need to educate parents, teachers, and the community at large. Teaching our children about the dangers of sex trafficking is the key to ending this egregious crime.

Here are some common false beliefs about Human Sex Trafficking?

  1. Most teens that are trafficked have been kidnapped.

  2. Strangers are the only threat to our children, so be wary of strangers.

  3. Sex Traffickers target only homeless and impoverished teens.

Here are some truths about Human Sex Trafficking.

Less than 10% are victims of a kidnapping. It is more common that teens are targeted by people they know. Often the Trafficker is a person they are used to seeing around the neighborhood. It may be a family friend or even a family member. Traffickers may enlist a schoolmate or a trusted adult who is part of the child’s everyday life to make the introduction.

Children that are disadvantaged, living on the streets, in foster care, with addiction problems are at higher risk for exploitation. Some victims are recruited while living at home and still attending school. Trafficking victims include people from all socioeconomic walks of life.

What is grooming, and how do Human Sex Traffickers get their victims to cooperate.

  • Grooming is a systematic approach to psychologically manipulate another person to gain their trust, creating dependence on the Trafficker. When the manipulation is complete, the victim often feels they made a choice to participate in their own exploitation and abuse. The shame and guilt, plus the abuse and threats by the Trafficker keep the victim in the vicious cycle of abuse.

  • The Trafficker identifies a target who is vulnerable. It could be a post online about fighting with their boyfriend/girlfriend or identifying someone getting bullied. Runaways are perfect targets.

  • The Trafficker gets to know their victim and uses the knowledge to manipulate them into believing that they are in their court, someone to count on. They create this false love relationship. They may shower the victim with presents. Eventually, the victim comes to trust and rely on the Trafficker for everything.

  • They feel loved, listened to, and safe. That is when the abuse begins. The Trafficker starts to get possessive, demanding to know the victim's every move. The Trafficker cuts the victim off from friends, family, so they are in total control.

In the beginning, the victim sees this as a demonstration of Love. The Trafficker maintains control over the victim with a mixture of violent threats to them and their family, mixed with kindness. That keeps the victim confused and makes it difficult to leave. The victim has no choice but to obey the Trafficker and have sex for money.

What Love is and What Love isn’t

Your child comes home raving about their new boyfriend/girlfriend. They show off expensive presents, new cell phones and technology, clothing, and jewelry. Over time there are signs of abuse. You may observe changes in your child’s behavior. They become secretive. Do they have unexplained bruises? Your child no longer spends time with you and the family. The boyfriend calls checking up on your teen frequently, and you notice that they are getting anxious and fearful. They are hanging out with new older friends. You may suspect drug use or find out that your child has been skipping school.

These behaviors are not examples of a loving relationship. They may be the signs of grooming for sex trafficking.

A real love relationship does not require isolation from your family and friends. A healthy relationship does not demand you to be under the control of another person. A real romantic partner would not suggest you have sex for money with a stranger for them. Someone who is psychologically, physically, or sexually abusive is not operating in your best interest.

What are the aspects of a healthy relationship?

  • Mutual Trust for each other

  • Mutual Respect for each other

  • Mutual Affection and appreciation for each other

  • Developing good communication and problem-solving skills.

  • Establishing a shared feeling of being understood, accepted, valued.

  • Investing time together in mutual interests and values.

If you suspect your child or student or someone in your community may be under the influence of a Human Sex Trafficker, do not put yourself or the person in danger by reaching out unless you are sure that they are alone and not being observed. Remember they are under the influence of the Trafficker’s manipulation and may not be interested in your support.

Reach out for professional help. Contact your local police or call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free hotline, 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-3737-888 to speak with a specially trained Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocate.

If you are looking for an opportunity to volunteer and make a difference in this cause, please consider Global Hope 365.

Global Hope 365 is active in the community and dedicated to the introduction of Human Trafficking Prevention Programs in Schools We are organizing, fundraising, strategizing and advocating, and of course, learning more every day on how to transform the landscape in Orange County, California, the US, and around the world. Your donation is helpful, but your time is invaluable. You are invited to connect with us and join our efforts.

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