A lot of people still have the 1970s picture of a pimp in their mind. You know the one:
1. big hat
2. leisure suit
3. jacked up car
4. dice hanging from the rear view mirror
The only place you’ll find a pimp like that now is in the movies. Today’s pimp looks like the guy next door, and in fact, he might be.
Where do they find their girls? Dark alleys? Parking lots where the girl is walking alone at night? What about the grocery store or the mall?
Sex trafficking is called the crime hidden in plain sight. It happens all around us, in the most unlikely places. If we aren’t alert, if we aren’t aware, we’ll miss it. And we can’t afford to.
I want to tell you about my friend, Beatrice. No, that’s not her real name and yes, I saw Divergent last night so that’s why I chose that particular name. But, if she had to chose a faction, she would most certainly be Dauntless. She is a case worker for Solomon House. She works with survivors of sex trafficking every day. She’s smart, street savvy, and very little gets by her.
A couple of days ago, as in this week, she took one of the ladies to an appointment. While the young lady was in her appointment, Beatrice went a few doors down to the Dollar General to buy some items for her. Beatrice walked through the store gathering the few things she needed when she noticed a man on the same aisle she was on and he was watching her. She changed aisles, he changed aisles. Then he went one aisle over and made a phone call. Beatrice, already alerted by his behavior, listened in and this is what she heard,
I found one you guys are really gonna really like.”
It was the middle of the day in Atlanta. People were in the store. She wasn’t in a dark, deserted alleyway in the hood. To say Beatrice was concerned would have been an understatement, but she didn’t have time to deal with her fear. She had to be smart. She had to remain alert.
The man was very good looking wearing nice jeans, a leather jackets, with a clean haircut. He looked like a neighbor, a friend. He stepped back down the same aisle Beatrice was on. He held the phone in his hand without talking and just looked at her. She slid her sunglasses down her nose (Don’t ask me why she still had them on; I told you, she’s Dauntless.), peered over them made direct eye contact with him, and said,
What happened next? Did someone pull out a weapon? Did the store clerk suddenly disappear? This isn’t the movies, folks, even though it felt like it. It was real life. It happened in a public place, in broad daylight, in Atlanta THIS WEEK.
Oh, #&@*, she knows how this thing works.”
And he turned on a dime and walked out the door, climbing into a car full of guys. Beatrice stood in the aisle, realizing that easily could have gone another way if she hadn’t:
- been aware of her surroundings
- been alert to the situation
- assessed her options, and
- been bold when it was called for
Traffickers, like any other criminal, go after the path of least resistance. When a target begins to act differently than expected, thus increasing the risk, a trafficker will bolt. It’s not worth the risk, especially when there are thousands of unsuspecting targets out there.
People ask me all the time,
How do I keep my daughter from becoming a target?
Matthew 10:16 tells us,
I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
The world isn’t a safe place, but we have to live in it. So what do we do? The answer is simple. No one is immune to this evil. It is not a respecter of persons and could target anyone from any walk of life. However, you can make yourself a difficult target, decreasing your risk, and that’s exactly what Beatrice did.
So, what can you do today? Share what you’ve learned here with someone else. Spread the word, making more and more people difficult targets. Raise your voice for hope.
***Since my original post of this article, I’ve had people ask a lot of questions about exactly what the man might have done if Beatrice didn’t say no to him. . Several things could have happened. He could have flirted with her, luring her outside the store where the other men could grab her and force her in the car. He could have gone outside himself and waited for her to walk out and grab her. He could have positioned himself behind her where he could pull a weapon on her and forced her out of the store. The “she knows how this works” meant him was targeting her to acquire her. That is why it’s important to always be aware of your surroundings and have a plan. Read more here.