You Won’t Believe This and It Really Happened

question markWhat does a pimp look like? Where does he operate? How does he gain possession of a new girl? These are questions we all need to think about. The answers might surprise you.

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.

Dollar General 2A 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,

No!”

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.

He said,

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.

March 21, 2014

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Comments

  1. Matt Riedemann March 25, 2014 #

    Wow, thanks for sharing Susan. I look forward to meeting you Thursday morning at the North Cobb Rotary Club Meeting

    • erika December 25, 2015 #

      Umm actually come on that is not how it happens. They dont kust go kidnap random girls. I know for a fact bc i have been in the game. Yes. They will flirt eith you, get you to like them like a bf and tell you if you want to continue you need to sell yourself and give them money they do not just randomly take girls. And the gorillas that do will take a girl who is already a prostitute. Smh. Please dont post about what you truly do not know

  2. Kristin Demkowski March 27, 2014 #

    I have to admit, I laughed out loud imagining this woman bravely saying “No” to a trafficker who then turned his tail and fled.

    Haha “she knows how this works!”

    Um yes, and fortunately we will spread the word so that many others will know how this works too.

  3. Susan Norris March 27, 2014 #

    Kristin, if you knew the lady, you’d laugh even harder. She’s a piece of work, for sure. No one will ever get anything by her.
    Matt, thank you so much for having me at the North Cobb Rotary Club meeting. It was a fun group to be with and I anticipate many joining the ranks of those fighting this issue.
    Susan

    • Mary marks April 9, 2014 #

      I tell my daughers it’s ok to loud at somebody. You don’t have to respect adults. Especially strangers men and women alike.

  4. Mary March 27, 2014 #

    Question: this is so frightening and eyeopening, and I would love to hear your best guess as to what would have happened in the worst case scenario. How would he have proceeded??? (looking for more information to guard against this)…..

    • Stephanie April 8, 2014 #

      Yes I don’t know what comes next or how this works. It would be nice to know what his plan was.

  5. Susan Norris March 28, 2014 #

    Great questions, Mary. He would have sweet talked her out the door and then pushed her in the car full of men or he may have simply gone outside, waited for her to exit and taken her by force. She most likely would have been trafficked within 24 hours of her abduction. It happens all the time. That’s how we have 100,000 children in this country trafficked every year and close to 300,000 at risk of being a trafficking victim, and those numbers come from Shared Hope International and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. There are adults, a mere 18+, who are also trafficked each year.
    As far as guarding against this, my friend did several things that prevented her from being a victim.
    1. She was aware of her surroundings.
    2. She paid attention to that uneasy feeling she had.
    3. She made eye contact with the potential perpetrator, letting him know she saw him and could identify him.
    4. She was bold, declare this wouldn’t happen to her by saying “NO!” to him in a firm voice.
    If she had felt more threatened, she could have pulled out her cell phone and snapped his picture and texted it to a friend, family member or the Polaris Project Hotline, 233733 (BeFree) and said this man is making me uncomfortable, then announced to him that she sent it along with the address of where she is. She could have called 911 and described him loud enough for him to hear her and know what she’s doing.. She could have made a scene in the store by calling the manager over to her. She could have called 911 on the phone and asked them to send an officer to the store. Those are just some steps she could take to protect herself in this case.
    Continue to educate yourself and share what you learn with others..
    Susan

    • JA April 1, 2014 #

      thank you

    • L April 2, 2014 #

      I find this whole story very hard to digest.

      If he is a criminal, why would he say, not one, but two things that gave him away? She clearly saw him and could identify him to the police. I mean he wasn’t exactly subtle in his actions or his words.

      Was it his first day at kidnapping?

      • Susan Norris April 2, 2014 #

        It happened. Beatrice called me to tell me the details herself. She read the story I posted and said it was spot on. Sometimes truth is crazier than reality.

      • Jenny April 7, 2014 #

        It happens because not everyone pays attention to their surroundings or their instincts. “Beatrice” was aware–but how many of us go about our day not paying attention to things? I was in a store once and noticed a man following a woman around and reported it to one of the cashiers. It turned out that the man was the in-house security scouting a suspected shoplifter, but the woman being followed was completely oblivious!

      • Wendy April 25, 2014 #

        Some people are so used to being able to get away with things because their victims are totally clueless that they don’t take what would seem to us to be normal precautions in committing their crimes. They really don’t have to be that smart.

      • Brian Bates September 23, 2015 #

        I agree. This story is extremely far fetched and resonates with many of the human trafficking hoax’s that perpetuate on Facebook today.

        This reads like a Lifetime Movie script.

        I’ve been around prostitution and human trafficking for 20-years. I track every case in my city and surrounding area. I also track cases nationally.

        This author puts this scenario out there likes its common – or even realistic.

        Woman are only abducted out of retail stores to be sold into human trafficking in the movies.

        Fear mongering has no place in the effort to positively impact human trafficking.

        I don’t call B.S. lightly, but I do call B.S. on the details provided in this story when the author is trying to make people believe this was a real attempted abduction for human trafficking.

        • jen September 24, 2015 #

          Brian, you sound a little bit too angry. This woman is trying to help girls be aware of their surroundings. Even if the story didn’t happen exactly the way it was written, the advice is good!! It also helps debunk the common misconception (from the entertainment industry) that pimps look and act a certain way. You said, “I’ve been around prostitution and human trafficking for 20-years. I track every case in my city and surrounding area. I also track cases nationally.” If this is true, you must have seen a lot of human suffering and devastation, enough to make you want to shout from the rooftops to get girls to pay attention to their surroundings and get them to help prevent their own abductions!! But, alas, you aren’t. YOU scare me.

    • Daniela April 2, 2014 #

      I grew up in a larger city and learned at a young age to keep my head up, stay alert, off the phone, prepared to make a scene and/or a quick exit. I moved to a small town and people think I’m paranoid. I don’t live in fear, but I know that the good Lord gave me that gut feeling for a reason. My husband has learned that if somebody gives me a bad feeling, there’s probably a reason, even if I can’t put words to it at the time.

      I had a creeper telling me how beautiful I was in the grocery store last week. I tell the girls I work with in our church to strike up a conversation with an employee, or ask for an escort to the car if they feel uneasy. Most places are glad to oblige. Maybe it’s nothing, but maybe it is. Stay off the phone when your are alone, have your keys ready before you go to your car so you don’t have to dig through your purse (they can also be used in self-defense). These sort of things are not just deterrent for traffickers, but thieves and other would-be criminals as well.

    • Kristin April 2, 2014 #

      If she knew what he was doing, why didn’t she discreetly call the police, let them know who she is and what she does and what she has found and continue “shopping” until police could get there? Part of ending this isn’t letting these monsters escape.

      • Lydia April 3, 2014 #

        While this might not be a bad idea, there really isn’t anything that the police could arrest them for as far as I can tell.

        • Karen Regling April 7, 2014 #

          But the police can get their ID and file an official report and put that person on a “watch list.” I say call the police in this case.

        • Mary marks April 9, 2014 #

          In NJ if someone is following you can call the police and make a report. After 3 reports if it’s the same peson that person can be arrested.

    • Donna April 3, 2014 #

      Please add this info to the end of your blog post. I believe it to be most helpful to understand what your friend was up against. Thank you for sharing her story and shedding light on human trafficking.

    • Grace April 3, 2014 #

      I’ve used my cell phone when I felt uncomfortable walking to work or shopping. It’s amazing how people back off when you let someone else know what’s going on, even over the phone. Once when nobody answered, I just talked into my phone anyway. Not ideal but it was better than nothing at the time.

    • Raquel April 3, 2014 #

      Found this article very interesting as my daughter was at the Mall of America just a few weeks ago with a friend. While her friend stood in line at the food court to purchase their food, My daughter, Jessica, decided to use the rest room. On her way, as she was passing a quieter area close to the restrooms she was approached by 2 men. One grabbed her arm. Now my husband is a 3rd degree black belt and has trained his teenage daughters well. Jessica is also a black belt. She said she felt fully in control of the situation and without fear quickly slapped his hand off her then grabbed his hand twisting it while finding the pressure point above his wrist she got in his face, looked right at him and firmly told him, “Don’t even think about it!” He quickly backed off, looked very surprised and his buddy said,” let’s go, dude!” and they took off. She said she was very glad they backed off because she did not want to hurt them. 🙂 She said after that her heart started pounding and she couldn’t believe that had just happened. She said it was like God just gave her supernatural courage and wisdom and a clear head. Very scary story to hear for a parent but the ending was a good one thankfully!

      • Candy K April 6, 2014 #

        I hope your daughter contacted mall security so they could be on the lookout for those two men possibly doing this with other girls. If this was caught on surveillance cameras, that would be awesome to potentially incriminate them.

        • Raquel April 8, 2014 #

          We did contact MOA security in hopes that Jessica’s encounter with the 2 men was caught on security tapes. Have not heard further. We live out of state. We reported when she came home but she now understands how important it is to report right away just in case they can be stopped before next time. Since one man did actually grab her, I think she had something to report…

    • Kari April 8, 2014 #

      Why didn’t she 1) take his picture, 2) take a picture of the car, 3) take a picture of the license plate. While it’s great that she was alert, if she could have given that info to the police, that could be one more scum bag (or carload of them) off of the streets).

      • Susan Norris April 8, 2014 #

        Kari, I’m sure she thought of a lot of other options after the fact; however, in the moment she did what came to mind. Plus, technically, the man didn’t commit any crime. Law enforcement wouldn’t have any reason to run the plates or a picture based on what he did, no matter how frustrating it is to us.

    • Tricia April 8, 2014 #

      This is important information that I think you should share in your blog post so none of us will miss it. Thank you for sharing this invaluable information.

    • Kathy Cooper April 10, 2014 #

      Thank you Susan. Thank you.

    • Julie April 12, 2014 #

      Would you please move this response into the text of your article? I think it is important too and I’d really like those I share the article with to have easy access to what you said in this response as well as in the original article! Thank you!!!

    • jennifer April 12, 2015 #

      So I’m curious, he would have forced her into the car even if people were around? Wouldn’t someone have seen him do it?
      I live in a relatively small town =40,000. I can’t imagine someone doing that in broad daylight in front of potentially other people…
      I’m just asking for confirmation. Not that I don’t believe it….

      • jennifer April 12, 2015 #

        And was this friend of yours young?

      • Susan Norris April 13, 2015 #

        Jennifer,
        If my friend had been unsuspecting, he could have lured her to go outside with him in a variety of ways. It happens all the time. Thankfully, she was alert and paying attention to her surroundings and the people around her.
        Survivors have shared stories far worse than this with me. If he had successfully gotten her outside and she hadn’t been willing to go with him would he have forced her in the car? We will never know, but there’s always the possibility.
        And to answer your second question, she was in her 20s. Be alert at all times. Pay attention to your surroundings.

  6. Jackie March 31, 2014 #

    What I have also heard is that sometimes the perp has watched a certain girl/boy for a while, knowing their address or other specifics (name of their school, names of friends or family members often found on social networking) and will use this information to threaten and keep the victims from attempting to run or get away. They will tell them that the same will happen to their little sister or that they will harm their parents, and then prove it by telling the home address. It is very sinister and methodical. Very scary.

  7. Ruth R April 1, 2014 #

    There is a great book called “Protecting the Gift” by Gavin Debecker…the gift being your children. He states in nearly all cases he has worked on the parent, or victim had an instinct or forewarning. But too many of us ignore those impulses or justify them away. He states something like 95% of the time your impulse or feeling of uncomfortableness is spot-on and to ALWAYS trust it. He explains our subconscious is picking up data faster than our conscious mind can process it and it is a survival tool.
    As in one case a woman had an impulse to jump out of her parked car and run, but she ignored her impulse thinking she was being silly. Then a man jumped into the drivers seat and took off with her in the car. It turns out she caught a glimpse in the driver-side mirror of a man crouching and moving quickly up to the car door. Her subconscious picked up all the data and figured out it was a danger situation…all in a nanosecond, way before she had time to process it into a conscious thought. Even if you’re wrong, it’s better to be safe. The book is a real eye-opener and provides great discussions to have with your children.

    • Anne April 8, 2014 #

      The gift is not your children, but “The Gift of Fear”, which is the title of Debecker’s first book. Debecker has a lot of wisdom to share about trusting your instincts and not being “nice” to people who make you uneasy. This is very important for us to teach all of our children, but especially our daughters (since they are more often a target).

      It is also worthwhile thinking about the kinds of games that parents play with their children, and how they are conditioned to respond as a result. For example, my husband loves to tickle them, even when they are saying no. It’s a point of contention because I want them to know without a doubt that when they say no, they mean it and no-one has the right to dismiss their no. He does not agree, because he’s their dad and he is not going to harm them…

      • Susan Norris April 8, 2014 #

        Anne, when mine were little we talked about the “No No Square” they sang about in elementary school.{“Stop! Don’t touch me there! This is my no no square!”} It was basically saying no one has a right to touch them where their bathing suit covers them (or should cover them). Teaching them the power of their “NO!” Is important. Maybe you could role play with them and have them practice screaming “NO!” as loud as they can. Make it fun but stress the reason you’re doing it.

        • Jennifer April 13, 2015 #

          HI, I’m new here, just started reading your stuff, and its really good to have you here saying these things.
          I would tend to err on the side of No ones allowed to touch me or my kids ANYWHERE if I don’t want them to. Even my arm.
          I’m just saying this because it was my thought. Its just good to be allowed to say no to anything you need to say no to.
          Not just genitals.
          I’ve practiced some with my kids, yelling NO, fighting, etc, and today tried to talk to them (15, 13, 10) again after reading your trafficking stuff…. they say, “mom! you are over doing it!! you’ve told us all this..”
          I need a new angle.

  8. Nicole April 1, 2014 #

    I have three girls. Oldest is 8 so starting to get to the point where I feel the need to give her some freedoms. Then stories like this scare the pants off of me. I would like to know what you do to protect girls without stifling them. You say you get asked this all the time, so do you have a post to point me to?

    Second question, are trafficking rates higher now than when we were kids (say 20 years ago), or are we just more aware of them? I ask because I had a lot of freedom as a kid and crave that for my own kids, but the Internet makes me scared. Does anyone know?

    • becky April 8, 2014 #

      Nicole, the sex trafficking trade has grown over the years in direct proportion to the growth of the pornography and child pornography industry. Pornography creates the demand and sex trafficking fills the demand.

  9. Susan Norris April 1, 2014 #

    Thanks, Ruth, for sharing. I haven’t heard of the book. I’ll look into it.

    Nicole, you can go here:

    http://www.susannorris.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Play_It_Safe.pdf

    and here:

    http://www.susannorris.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Whats_a_Parent_to_Do_flyer.pdf

    for handouts for parents. This is a good starting point. Loving your children well, talking with them starting at a young age with age appropriate scenarios and even role playing is helpful. Think of it like a fire drill, if you practice it, then when it happens, they’ll know what to do.

    Your second question is hard to answer, because there’s no research to support either answer. The internet makes it easier to market a girl with less risk, so I personally think it’s growing.

    Thanks for joining the conversation. Keep the questions coming.

    Susan

  10. Darcy April 1, 2014 #

    A tactic of safety for younger children is to agree on a password between you and your child. If someone approaches them and tries to carry on a personal conversation or asks your child to leave with them and doesn’t know the password, your child knows to RUN.

    • Susan Norris April 1, 2014 #

      GREAT idea, Darcy. Thanks for sharing!

      • Rhonda April 2, 2014 #

        I’ve heard predators will use the password method to their advantage…they say they know the password and will go to whisper it to the child and grab them. We had a child safety expert come to our mops groups and speak on this subject.

    • Blessed2bMom April 1, 2014 #

      My four children are all grown up now, but we definitely taught age-appropriate stranger danger. We absolutely used a password and also taught our kids that if anyone who approached them or tried to take them and didn’t know the password then the child should run if possible, but it was TOTALLY FINE to shout/scream/yell and hit/bite/kick if necessary. We actually role played this numerous times over the years.

      As they matured and were old enough to go online, we required passwords and access to all online activity. We did random spot checks and regularly asked about online friends. We didn’t allow online friendships with people not known in real life. We had regularly taught privaleges came with responsibilities, so there was no problem implementing this.

      • Susan Norris April 1, 2014 #

        Great wisdom here! You were obviously parents who were on top of things. If there were more parents out there like you, this industry would feel a huge dent. Thanks for sharing. For those out there with tweens or teens, take note. This is wisdom for free here.

        • Jennifer April 13, 2015 #

          what I always wonder is, even for myself, would I or my kids really feel comfortable yelling in public, and making a scene? How do we really teach this comfort? Maybe have them take theater classes…?
          I know for myself I’d hesitate, because of shyness/self consciousness…. until I was SURE it was a danger, in which case it would probably be too late.

      • Grace April 3, 2014 #

        My parents always stressed that it was ok to just not talk to strangers if we felt uncomfortable. My mom also told us if we were scared or lost to go to a person in uniform or another mom with little kids.

  11. I grew up in the inner city of Portland and was a teenager in the early 80’s, and I can tell you that we had both types, as it was a very mixed, black and white neighborhood. The flashy pimp and the relatively “normal” looking guys. Also just the regular, creepy men. I was followed, approached, harassed, hit on you name it, by all of those types on a regular basis. I had a fake name and would always lose them before going to my own home. It was such a safe neighborhood for my mom growing up just 30 years earlier, but not anymore. I made sure I knew where the “Block Homes” safe houses were in case I needed help. It didn’t help that I lived only 1 1/2 blocks from “hooker” street. If only I had a cell phone back then. And I prayed a lot! I knew that God was my only real protection! Great warnings you’ve given everyone. Above all, don’t let them get you in that car!!

  12. Kathleen April 1, 2014 #

    I am a mom of three boys. Do they ever take boys?

    • Susan Norris April 1, 2014 #

      Kathleen,
      It does happen to boys; however, they do not typically self identify. Research indicates they will stuff the pain and their past and then it manifests through abusive behaviors as adults, adulterous affairs, or they become purchasers or perpetrators themselves. Pornography tends to be a primary gateway of entry for men in becoming involved in the industry as purchasers/perpetrators.
      As far as protecting your sons, teach them about a Biblical perspective of sexuality. Encourage them to develop healthy mentor relationships with godly men and young adults that you know and trust. The more solid their Biblical foundation and self esteem, the less likely they are to become a target.
      As a mother of a son, I know it’s easy to overlook these issues where boys are concerned. Education is your greatest tool.
      Blessings!

      • Kathleen April 1, 2014 #

        Thanks!

      • Kuba April 2, 2014 #

        Pray tell, how is a “Biblical foundation and self esteem” helpful in avoiding being abducted? If someone has decided to kidnap you on the spot, there’s relatively little that you can do.

        • Susan Norris April 2, 2014 #

          Kuba, a Biblical foundation and self esteem will teach someone value and worth, so they go seeking to find those things elsewhere. Force is only one of the three way someone is taken into the sex trade. The other two ways are fraud or coercion and they happen far more frequently than force. They pray on a child’s insecurities and areas of vulnerability, which have to do with their view of self. So, by pouring into a child telling them they have worth and value not only to you but also to God will make them less vulnerable to those lurking about desiring to use any weakness possible to gain trust. It happens all the time. I hear story after story of girl who was lured from safety of family, friends or home by these expert manipulators.
          Thank you for your question!

  13. Stacy April 1, 2014 #

    Susan,
    Thank you for posting this story. I’m not surprised, yet so saddened. When I was in college (and before I knew Christ) I took a hands on self defense class called “Model Mugging”. One of the things they taught us was to use our voice and we practiced yelling “no!”. It was much better to never get into a struggle than have to use the tools they were giving us. My teenage daughters have seen my “graduation” video from that class and we’ve laughed over my “NO!” but I think that they will appreciate it now. I suggest practicing yelling “No!” with your daughters and even for yourself. It’s not that easy to do when you are scared.
    Thank you for keeping us alert! Stay in the fight!
    Stacy

    • Susan Norris April 1, 2014 #

      Great word, Stacy! I know when my daughter and I took our self defense class, we were encouraged to yell “NO!” also. It was the one word Beatrice spoke to the would be assailant and it sent him running. There is power in the word “NO!”

  14. alisha April 1, 2014 #

    Can’t the police pull the video footage from inside and outside the store to try and catch this guy! Maybe they could pull the numbers on his plates. It’s disturbing to think this guy is still out there!

    • Susan Norris April 1, 2014 #

      Alisha, technically he didn’t commit a crime. He didn’t even say anything directly to Beatrice. Law enforcement is already over worked, under staffed and under funded. Unless a crime has been committed, their hands are tied. It frustrates them as well as us. If we demand new laws, then the officers can enforce them.

      • Dave April 4, 2014 #

        As much as we all want trafficking ended, there is no law that would have prevented Beatrice’s situation that would not also cause all of us to lose massive freedom. He did not touch, intimidate, coerce, threaten, demean or harm her. He didn’t even speak to her! If looking at someone is a crime, then everyone becomes a criminal. No one wants that.

        • Susan Norris April 8, 2014 #

          I totally agree, Dave. People wish Beatrice would have slapped him or followed him. Then she could have been charged with assault or stalking. It is what it is. She did the right thing by being aware of her circumstances and keeping herself safe. There really wasn’t anything else she could have done other than tell her story, and by allowing me to share it, she has.

  15. Patty April 2, 2014 #

    I had someone offer me a ride once while walking down a fairly busy main street in a small town. I’d seen him once the week before in a similar situation. This time when I declined he turned the corner, pulled into a gas station at the next intersection and waited. I started past the station and he pulled around to one of the exits, which crossed the sidewalk ahead of me. I didn’t want to turn my back on him, so I turned to cut through the pumps toward the store. He immediately took off at full speed. That was probably 7 or 8 years ago now, and I can still describe the man and his car.

    Much more recently, I pulled into a busy Target parking lot around 8 at night. My daughter was in an infant seat in the back, and there was a miraculously open spot right next to a cart return. A man was leaning against the cart return near the car parked in front of the open spot. He was talking on his phone and looked like he had forgotten his keys and was waiting for somebody to finish shopping. There was a light near the return, and he seemed to be watching me as I pulled in to park. He was only a few feet from my door, and something just seemed off. I decided to give up the spot, and as I backed out a young couple walked up to the car in front of me -the one he had appeared to belong with- and got in without paying any attention to him. I kept an eye on the man as I drove around the lot a bit more, and he never quite stopped facing my car. I decided I didn’t really need to shop there that night and went to a different store a few miles away.

    • Susan Norris April 2, 2014 #

      Patty, it always pays to be alert. You made a wise choice. Sharing these stories helps others think carefully when they go out in public. We don’t need to assume every person is up to no good, but we also need to listen to that little check we have when we are faced with a situation like yours. Way to go!

  16. cierra April 2, 2014 #

    I have three young children the oldest is four. I was wodering if there was any reading material on how to teach roll play to parents or how to talk to young children about stranger dangers? I feel lost on how to approach t he issue. Thanks for advise on how to keep us safe.

    • Christina April 2, 2014 #

      Cierra, I purchased an older version of this book several years ago: http://www.kidpower.org/store/products/younger-comics

      I think it did a good job of outlining strategies and teaching protection without planting fear. I would also really recommend Gavin Debecker’s books “The Gift of Fear,” and “Protecting the Gift.”

      “The Gift of Fear” is about learning to trust natural fear (instead of manufactured, constant fear) to protect yourself. It uses examples from many walks of life – famous people with insane fans, all the way to the girl next door.

      “Protecting the Gift” is about doing the same, in regards to protecting your children. From what I can recall, it focuses more on stranger kidnappings.

      Susan, maybe you could check out these resources and critique them for a future blog post. I didn’t agree with everything Debecker wrote, but I think much of his information is invaluable.

    • Mary April 7, 2014 #

      This may be helpful… It just showed up in my email in the last couple days so very timely.

      http://kidshealth.org/classroom/prekto2/personal/safety/strangers_911.pdf

  17. Susan Norris April 2, 2014 #

    Cierra, I am not familiar with any reading material, but will be happy to look into it and see what I can find. If you will email me at susan@susannorris.org, I will forward any links I come across. Voices Today is a ministry that works with survivors of child abuse. I know they have some educational materials available. I’ll start by emailing my contact there when I return to Atlanta and can retrieve her contact information. You’re wise to start early. One can never be too educated.

  18. Clarissa April 2, 2014 #

    “The Slave Next Door” is a book by Teresa Flores, a Michigan resident who was trafficked in a similar way, it might be helpful to read to understand what trafficking can look like.

    Another way that pimps will trick girls into being trafficked is by posing as their boyfriend. This can go on for months, so the girl actually believes the guy loves her. He buys her expensive gifts, sweet talks her. Then one night he’ll ask her to do a favor for a friend to help him out, and get her to have sex with men, still under the pretense of a favor to her “boyfriend,” until she’s trapped and it’s too late to escape. In the case of Teresa Flores, a high school guy pretended to like her, until one day she accepted a ride home with him, where he drugged her and used a video of her as blackmail as he sold her to other men.

    Last summer I was on an airplane, and a friendly man next to me offered me and the teenage girl in the other seat jobs as cruise directors in another state, complimenting us on our beauty and describing the ideal job where we would get to travel the world. I don’t know his intentions, but you always need to be on your guard! He could have easily promised us a job to trick us into being trafficked. Job offers as cruise directors, models, and anything else could be turned into a bad situation very fast. Thanks for posting this!

    Always make sure your daughters know they are beautiful– if they don’t know, they’re more likely to follow a man who tells them they’re beautiful, even if their gut is telling them it’s dangerous!

  19. StacyH April 3, 2014 #

    There are also a lot of good, practical tips for teaching and empowering kids at http://themamabeareffect.org/empowering-our-children.html Thanks for this article, and for your work to fight this evil. God bless

  20. Leah April 3, 2014 #

    I have had many occasions of frightful situations in my life, including someone attempting to kidnap me in front of my parents (in CA). But I remember as I became a teenager, I grew braver in standing up for myself. Once, I was walking to an appointment when a dark haired man in a white car, driving the opposite direction, turned his car around and pulled up alongside me and asked if I needed a ride. I don’t know what drove me to do exactly what I did next, but it was effective. I reached down and picked up some rocks on the side of the road. I hollered at him using a British accent, “Didn’t your mother ever teach you to never talk to strangers!?!” Then I began to throw these rocks like they were softballs, aiming at the open passenger window. He fled. End of story. Today, I have 3 beautiful children. I teach them about people who want to take them away. I teach them to be brave, strong fighters, and to use their voice when something is wrong. My oldest is 6 and has already had two incidents that involved the police. He did everything right, and knows he can and will be believed and backed up by his family for doing the right thing. He and his sister are in martial arts because I would have them know how to fight when the situation calls for it, than to be victims. I can’t always be there to protect them, but I know they have their mama in them…

    • Susan Norris April 3, 2014 #

      That’s awesome, Leah. I love the rock story. You have to be wise and use whatever you have at your disposal to protect yourself.

  21. Roxanne April 3, 2014 #

    Yes, listen to your gut. Listen to that instinct. Be aware. Be prepared. Use your voice.

  22. Jennifer April 3, 2014 #

    I think it is also very important for women to be trained to use and carry a firearm. The website http://www.thewellarmedwoman.com is a great site to learn more.

    • Mrs. W April 3, 2014 #

      Jennifer – I was just going to suggest the same thing!
      – as you said, https://www.facebook.com/TheWellArmedWoman is a fantastic resource. They are respectful and ladylike 😉
      (specifically for women and fireams)
      &
      https://www.facebook.com/ActiveSelfProtection
      (all forms of self defense for all people)

      If you choose to utilize a firearm – or any tool really (even pepper gel) – realize that the tool is not what saves you. As Susan has pointed out – awareness and avoidance are or first and best options. And you can get into big trouble if you don’t know how to safely use and maintain your chosen tool or weapon. Solid awareness/plan/skills/practice with no tool is better than no awareness/plan/skills/practice and a great tool. Both together is of course optimal 😉

      Really, even if you would rather not arm yourself (I do understand), you should familiarize yourself with these tools. If a gun is thrust in your face, do you know how to improve your chances of survival? If you manage to get the bad guy’s gun – do you know how to use or disarm it? If a knife is held to your throat, do you know how to slide out of it? If you are choked, do you know how to maintain your breathing long enough to fight back? Do you know what a “safe distance” really is?
      And if you have children – PLEASE teach them firearm safety. Whether you love guns or hate them. Whether your children are fascinated or afraid (usually both). Whether your child is obedient or defiant. Talk to them. Teach them. Train them.
      ~ Blessings ~

      • Dana April 8, 2014 #

        Had a gun put to my face as I sat down in my car leaving a Hospice patients home. 2:30pm empty parking lot bright sun shiny day. I always scanned every time I left a home all the way to my car! Never saw this coming. I pushed the gun out of my face tried to bargain, give him my purse computer two cell phones car keys. He proceeded to insist I get back in the car. I said NO!!! And he began to beat me on the head with the gun. On my knees with one hand trying to block blows of the gun I crawled as far as I could get away from my car about one parking space, trying not to black out, so much blood in my face I could barely see. He was pulling on me so hard trying to put me back in my car he pulled my scrub top off. I realized if I could keep him from shooting my head I might live so I kept pushing the gun away from my face. Then I saw his partner in crime come around the back of my car and thought to myself I am going to die. It was then I started screaming OhGod!!!!! Oh God!!!!! And amazingly the beating stopped and the two ran away. They had their faces wrapped so no way I could pick out of line up! He the “beater” took my smart phone and Federal Marshalls tracked them for 3-4 days and then back to the apartment complex. Arrested the “beater” the gun was still bloody but had been wiped. DNA came back human blood but couldn’t match to mine. It’s not like in the movies!! So, yes you guessed it they both walked. Free birds. And me, PTSD, PANIC ATTACKS, AND NOT A DAY GOES BY THAT I DONT HAVE A SEVERE MIGRAINE FOR WHICH I AM ON TONS OF MEDS JUST TO FUNCTION.

        My therapist looks me in the eye and says you are not going to get better until you get back out into the World and function like you used too. Lol!! He says the world is a safe place there are many more nice people than bad!!!

        He carries a gun!!! Wonder why in this safe world?

        I had a 9mm gun under my seat I would have shot and killed two 18 year old boys that day if my gun had been where I could reach it. It is always within reach now!

        Be careful teach you children, it happens when u least expect, not in a creepy alley or on a deserted road at night!

        • Susan Norris April 8, 2014 #

          Dana, I am so thankful that you lived to tell your story. Keep on telling it. People need to know these things happen. It could be the difference between life and death the next time around. Praying for your complete and total healing, mind, body and spirit.

  23. Joanne K. April 3, 2014 #

    I lived in the Pittsburgh area for 10 years, never let someone selling anything in a parking lot get close especially perfume or jewelry and never ever turn your back on a van. If your side of the car is against a van go threw the other side or wait till they leave-I own a van trust me an entire person can easily hide below the window in the door or below the side doors.

  24. Mel April 4, 2014 #

    Thank you for this. I have posted it on my Facebook for all my friends to see. I have two daughters and this is scary. Good for Beatrice to say no. I give her kudos for being aware of her surroundings.

  25. Heather April 4, 2014 #

    Out of curiosity, how old was “Beatrice”? Is she a teenager or an adult in her 20’s? Am wondering because is typically seems that children and teenagers are mostly at risk for kidnapping/trafficking of this kind and am wondering how much of a risk it is to women past the teenage years?

    • Susan Norris April 5, 2014 #

      Heather, Beatrice is in her mid-twenties, but she looks younger. I do agree with you that children and teenagers are more at risk.

  26. Sean Campbell April 5, 2014 #

    Not buying it. Third time ive seen almost this exact story told with different details today. Youre not educating potential victims, you are playing with peoples emotions and exploiting their irrational fearm not surprised you are a religious figure.

    • Susan Norris April 5, 2014 #

      Heather, Beatrice is in her mid-twenties, but she looks younger. I do agree with you that children and teenagers are more at risk.
      Sean, I am not repeating a story I read over the internet. Beatrice is a close friend of mine. The reason this scenario seems so common or repetitive is because it happens more frequently than we’d like to believe. I work with survivors each week who have gone through similar situations. I’m sensationalizing anything. I’m sharing what I know to be true. In fact, this week, a similar situation took place in Powder Springs, Georgia where the young lady had to fight for her freedom. Thankfully, she won.

  27. Tina April 5, 2014 #

    I praise God that my mugging in my upstate NY home town was just that and nothing of this magnitude. While walking in a familiar area at age 18, I had a heightened awareness of the darkness of the area and supposed that I met someone. No sooner than I had thought it did it actually occur. Under the guise of asking for a cigarette the person crossed the street to approach me. I acted like I wasn’t bothered, but held my purse half expecting him to grab it. As I declined his request to offer him a cig, he brushed past me, but quickly turned when I kept going. He grabbed me from behind putting his hand to my throat with what I thought was a knife. He ordered me to drop my purse and tried to pull my necklace off. I talked with him the whole time thinking he was detaining me for nothing. I had no money. I was attached to the necklace sentimentally, so I didn’t want him to break it. I told him not to pull it off because it would be worth more to him. He agreed and I urged him to step back. As he did, I could tell that it was not a knife being held to my throat and I put my hands up as if to take off my necklace. I swung around as hard as I could with both elbows face high and connected with his jaw. I then shoved his body as hard as I could away from me. He bent down and scooped up my purse and ran. I then ran after him to see where he was going and thought better of it… I really wanted that purse… it was my first leather one. I was only a block from my family and I decided I should go there and see if the police could retrieve my purse. I never did find it. But I had my life and a survival story to tell. Praise God for His protection on an over zealous independent teen!

    • Susan Norris April 5, 2014 #

      Tina, she is in her 20s, but we’re celebrating her safety just the same. You were impressive with your ability to remain calm in a situation and fight back. I’m glad you were able to get away safe and sound.

  28. Josh Estes April 5, 2014 #

    I read your article and I’ll tell you where I think trafficking takes place. The bible. Exodus 21 describes how to sell your daughter into sexual slavery and dictates that she may not go free as male servants can. Leviticus 27 dictates that women are less valuable than men. This cherry picking of the bible is horrendous. Willful ignorance.

    • Rachel Tillman April 5, 2014 #

      Sir, with all due respect, I believe you may have misinterpreted those scriptures. I am a college student and I don’t know much, but I believe Exodus 21:7-11 is instructions about concubines. This was not in God’s original plan, as He created one woman and one man, but the Israelites had adopted some of the cultures around them. These instructions written in Exodus command that the woman not be set free because this is a lifelong commitment. If she does not please the man, then he must let her be redeemed, not sold elsewhere, as he has “broken faith with her. (verse 8)” “If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. (verse 10)” Verse 10 also has instructions about marrying “another” woman, implying that this is a type of marriage with the first. Verse 10 also instructs that he “must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital status.”
      As for Leviticus 27, if a person were to dedicate servants or slaves (because they took slaves in war and Hebrews could literally sell themselves into slavery to pay off debts back then) to the Lord, the servants have value equivalence assigned to them. A woman was probably assigned less than a man because she could not do the manual labor that a man could.

  29. Rachel Tillman April 5, 2014 #

    This honestly makes me nervous. Not for me, personally (although I am always careful), but for my campus. I go to a very large public university that most of you have probably heard of. Partying and drinking is a huge past-time here and drunk girls would be very easy to take advantage of. Although I do not drink because of my personal beliefs, I have very close friends that do. Although we try very, very hard to never leave a sister (I’m a member of a sorority) alone, it does accidentally happen about once a semester. One of my sisters has even been drugged, although she was able to recognize what was going on and we got her home safely. Please keep college campuses in your prayers, along with high schools.

    • Susan Norris April 6, 2014 #

      Rachel, with my own children in college, I am very aware of the dangers. I pray for the blessings of that season of life and for protection from the dangers that are present. I love that you and your sorority sisters look out for one another, keeping watch over one another’s safety. I was blessed to have several really close friends in college and we, too, looked out for one another. Keep up the good work. Praying for you!

      • Rachel Tillman April 8, 2014 #

        Thank you. It’s greatly appreciated.

  30. Scott April 7, 2014 #

    While probably less frequent, abduction is a danger for boys as well, so if you’re a parent of boys it is still important to teach them about safety just as seriously as your girls. My father in law was nearly abducted when he was out walking alone during the day as a child – he said a van pulled up in front of him, and the back doors opened up with two adults in the process of getting out – however he said that then they looked behind him, went completely pale in terror and fled. I’m convinced God protected him, but avoiding unnecessary positions of vulnerability is always a solid policy.

    • Susan Norris April 7, 2014 #

      Scott, you’re right. There’s little out there about boys, but they are also at risk. A few people are starting to ban together to try and determine what services can be provided for boys as well. However, from the parental end, you need to educate all of your children about the dangers out there. Stranger danger doesn’t just apply to young children.

  31. Angela April 7, 2014 #

    Susan,

    I could really use some advice from someone with knowledge in this area. Our family lives in a nice residential neighborhood, lots of children are here on our street. The home next door to us is being used for prostitution (all the signs are there and a “customer” has approached another neighbor asking if his appointment was with her). There do not seem to be any underaged women there, and the women seem to be free to come and go in their own vehicles. Our local police have been alerted multiple times by neighbors, but do not seem very interested in helping. They have made two feeble attempts to have the person inside come out and talk to them, but with no success. We are at a loss, we are frightened for our children and wondering if (aside from praying, obviously), the only thing we can do is guard our children and hope these “customers” leave them alone. We never thought this could happen next door to us. Thank you for any advice you can offer.

    • Susan Norris April 8, 2014 #

      Angela, a couple of things come to mind. First, law enforcement may be gathering evidence to prosecute. It takes time. Unfortunately, it isn’t as open and shut as the television programs make it seem. I’ve learned this while walking through cases with girls I’ve met coming out of the life.
      However, if you’ve contacted the authorities and they appear to be doing absolutely nothing about it, consider contacting the media. They may be willing to come out and do a story on it, forcing the hand of law enforcement.

      • Angela April 8, 2014 #

        Thank you, that is good advice.

      • Kal April 9, 2014 #

        Nothing will blow an active investigation like someone calling the media.

  32. Grace April 7, 2014 #

    Thanks for writing this! I had one of those instances just today where my gut instinct told me to move! I’m so glad I did. So I was at our Target where we have a parking garage option. I usually like to take that option because I don’t have to walk so far to get inside and be exposed to the outside elements when I go there with the kids. Our Target has 2 levels, and the upstairs entrance to Target is on the 3rd level of the parking garage. I usually park on the second level right by the elevator and then take the elevator right to the Target entrance. Well today after I parked, I had to nurse my 7 month old before going in with all 3 kids. Sometime after I had begun nursing, I noticed a dark car parked 2 spaces over from me. I made sure my doors were locked as I saw in my car nursing, All of the side windows were tinted so dark on the car, I couldn’t see inside it at all. I got a bad, uneasy feeling in my gut, and as soon as I finished nursing my baby, keeping my eye on the car, I got my baby back into her car seat, and started up my van and pulled out. As I pulled out, the driver’s seat appeared to be empty. I turned the corner to go up the ramp to the next level of the garage, and I see the silhouette of a black man with baggy clothes get out of the back seat of the car, into the driver’s seat, start up the car, and pull out. at that point I was up to the next level, and I didn’t see where he went, but I kept going up to the 4th level just to make sure I wasn’t being followed or anything. I parked by the elevator there, with no suspicious cars around and felt safe to get out there. Yikes that was so scary. I hate to think about what might’ve happened had I gotten my kids and I out to the elevator right by that creepy car!

    • Susan Norris April 8, 2014 #

      Grace, it is always important to pay attention to your surroundings.

  33. jomotro April 7, 2014 #

    She said No, and he said she knows how this works. But you didn’t tell US how it works. If she had not of done what she did, what would the man have done differently to succeed in his quest?

    • Susan Norris April 8, 2014 #

      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 force her out of the store. The “she knows how this works” was him targeting her and then planning his next step to acquire her. That is why it’s important to always be aware of your surroundings and have a plan. I blogged about that today. You can read it here: http://www.susannorris.org/2014/04/victim-victor/.

      • JJ April 11, 2014 #

        ah- this answers my question.

  34. Robyn April 9, 2014 #

    Thank you for sharing. As we get older (I’m middle age), I think we tend to get where we think who would want me. I’m safe. But these are predators. And like rape, it’s power; not passion. The thing I tell myself and my daughter is don’t be afraid to make a scene. They don’t want attention drawn to them. Better to be a little embarrassed than be a victim.

    • Susan Norris April 9, 2014 #

      As the teenagers like to say, “True that!” I’m all for making a scene if it means keeping me and those I love safe.

  35. GG April 10, 2014 #

    Josh, yes the bible has human trafficking and says things like women are less valuable than men, but that doesn’t mean that God promotes it, and neither does the bible, it is telling you about how things used to be….but it definitely doesn’t mean that the bible is promoting this or saying this is right.

  36. JJ April 11, 2014 #

    I’m curious, was he going to abduct her or try and sweet talk her into going with him?

    • Susan Norris April 11, 2014 #

      JJ, if you’ll look up about four comments, you’ll see where I listed the various possibilities. Either way, all things indicated he intended to take her with him.

  37. Shelia April 12, 2014 #

    and they take boy/young men also. Please let people know that boys/young men are a target too – not just girls/young women. Boys/young men are tortured/raped/etc just like the girls/young women. BOTH sexes must be aware of their surroundings.

    • Susan Norris April 12, 2014 #

      You just did, Shelia. I have written about this in the past. There are virtually no resources available for boys who fall victim of this. It’s heartbreaking. Thankfully, many of the grassroots and faith based organizations are taking note of the need.
      There are also some organizations starting to tackle the demand side of this issue. Keep your eyes on True North Freedom Project for this. They’re new to the fight but I expect they’ll be front runners.

  38. cbraskamp April 15, 2014 #

    Thanks for printing this. Be aware of your surroundings and goings on. You just never know.

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    • Susan Norris August 31, 2014 #

      Thank you for your kind words. I blog about trafficking frequently. You may wish to read some of my other posts on the topic of sex trafficking. You can find them by typing “sex trafficking” in the search bar to the right.
      Have a blessed day!

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  50. Daniela September 22, 2015 #

    I had a pretty similar thing happy to me at my local target a few months back! At the time I wasn’t aware of the whole trafficking thing but I knew it didn’t feel right. My 1yr old son and I were at target at 8pm (waiting for my husband to get out of class so we could pick him up) we were there for literally two full hours and it was one of those trips where I’m not there for anything, just killing time walking up and down literally every aisle (this is an important detail lol) so as we were walking around after a long while I started noticing these three guys kept showing up in the same areas as Us. I didn’t think anything of it right away, but when they would show up in unusual aisle, for 3 men shopping together, I started to feel uneasy. they would either be in the same aisle picking up random items and putting them back while glancing over or they would be in the next aisle over and one of them would walk over near us and do the same thing. They switched it up. we were looking at baby shoes, bathroom decor, ladies sleep ware, make up, candles, and they just kept doing it and then when the one would go back to the group they would like huddle and talk (in a different language) I saw them do this when we were in the shoe section and I could see over the shoe racks they would talk and look at us. (two looked like early to mid 30s and 1 in his 20s) after a while of feeling uncomfortable I went to check out I didn’t see them for a bit, but as soon as I was paying I noticed one came in line behind me (buying only a pack of gum after being in the store for two hours) and the other two were at the next register also buying something small. But then the guy behind me changed his mind and put the gum back and went with his friends who were done paying at this time and standing at the end of the registers just talking. At that point I was so freaked out because I felt like they had followed me and were just waiting. Apparently I was so freaked out that I paid for my stuff (forgot to put them in my cart)
    started looking for my keys and started to walk away from the register I walked past the guys who were still just standing there talking and they started walking behind me. Then I heard the cashier say “excuse me ma’am you forgot your bags” and I turned around and walked past them again. Hoping they’d keep walking. They stopped for a a second but then continued on. Then I took my time to grab my stuff and started walking out again (at this point I was totally freaked but I wasn’t sure if I was over thinking it) so I proceeded to walk out and when I walked out the doors they were right there standing! I immediately felt like I should turn around and walk back in so I did. Then I called my husband and told him exactly what happened and he told me not to walk out alone so Then I went and got someone to walk me out. When we came back out they were gone. The worker took us to our car had me get my son and myself in and he loaded our bags. And waited for me to drive off….. So it wasn’t exactly the same as this story but pretty similar and so creepy. Either way I felt soooo uncomfortable and I could literally here the voice in my head saying “turn around and go back inside and get someone!”
    It was seriously so scary and definitely felt so wrong. I’m glad I was alert and listened to my gut. Now that I am aware of the trafficking seen I am definitely more careful and don’t trust anyone.

    • Susan Norris September 22, 2015 #

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. Unfortunately, this happens in everyday places, places where we should feel safe. You used great wisdom in seeking someone to assure the safety of you and your son. If you ever feel in danger, do not hesitate to talk with management or even contact 911. Your safety is hugely important.

      • Mike September 22, 2015 #

        All the best of luck to combatting trafficking. One trick I learned, you can sometimes discover who is behind a specific escort ad in Backpage by copying and pasting the listed phone number in facebook; alot of times, you get a male that lives somewhere 1,000 miles away. I figure that individual would probably be the controller.

  51. Susan Norris September 23, 2015 #

    I have tried to track down the comment by Brian Bates that I received in my email address this morning. Since I cannot find it in the comments section where it posted, and I’ve looked, I want to respond to him here:

    Brian,

    I appreciate your comments. I’m not sure which city you live in, but I live in Atlanta. I am the one who wrote the post and I happen to know the woman who experienced it. She is a personal friend and she works with a front line organization in Atlanta called Out of Darkness which is the anti-trafficking outreach of the Atlanta Dream Center. She was a case worker for years so she traveled to and from medical appointments with survivors before they transitioned from the safe house to a long term restorative care program. She is also very street smart, as one who lived on the streets as an addict when she was young. I can see where you may think this is Lifetime movie material, but it has been my experience working with survivors and hearing their stories, as well as interviewing former traffickers, law enforcement, and front line organizations, truth is crazier than fiction in many cases. I know I may not change your opinion of my post, but I did want to give you the background information on the story that I shared. It’s the real deal!

    Blessings,

    Susan Norris, Founder
    Rescuing Hope, Inc.
    http://www.rescuinghope.com

  52. Jacqueline Turner September 24, 2015 #

    Ladies, the heroine in this short story did not handle the situation appropriately or safely. if a person is behaving suspiciously in a store, it is a law enforcement matter. Generally, not always, making eye contact or behaving confrontationally is unwise, may escalate the bad guy and jeopardize your safety and the safety of others. Use your cell to call law enforcement, discretely if possible, and provide a description. Walk to the check-out, alert the clerk, and stay at the check out. If the bad guy exits the store, stay inside, look out the door glass, and attempt to get a vehicle description and direction of travel. If the law enforcement communication’s officer does not keep you on the phone, be prepared to make a pix or video if the bad guy exits the store. The object is for you to remain safe, and to facilitate a law enforcement contact with the suspicious person. Documenting his/her presence in the area may, at minimum, provide a lead in the event a crime has occurred does occur elsewhere involving a person meeting a similar description.

  53. Penny November 9, 2015 #

    Susan,

    We also live in the Atlanta area, and just yesterday, at a local store, a random middle-aged man came up and took a photo of my 7 year old son. He did not ask permission, and I was standing with my son (but across the Lego table from where he was looking at Legos so not sure if he immediately knew I was with him). After taking the picture, he said “Cheese, you’re on my camera!” and then after I looked at him in shock started to talk to me and say that he took the picture for his sister because his nephew likes legos, blah blah blah all the while he did something on his phone and said he just sent the photo to her. He sent it somewhere, but I don’t know where. My brain wasn’t working so well at the moment and I didn’t want to overreact, and thought maybe he did send it to his sister. Now I am highly doubting that, and wondering what in the world he could do with the photo of my blonde haired, blue eyed, 7 year old son? I did call back and notify the store manager. Should I notify police? He didn’t “do” anything other than take the photo, but now I am freaking out. Would he have tried to follow us home, etc.? My husband picked us up so he was with us when we left the store. Any feedback or tips? Thank you so much!

    • Susan Norris November 9, 2015 #

      Penny, while the man did not break any law that I am aware of, he certainly crossed a personal boundary line. What he did, at the very least, was disturbing. You could always contact the authorities and let them know what happened, where it happened and give a description of the man who took the photo. He may be a harmless old man, but I tend to trust my gut instinct. If you report the incident, then there will be a record on file. If more needs to be done, the authorities will advise you.
      As far as tips, I would just encourage you to review any talk of stranger danger you’ve had with your son. I also encourage people to play the “What If” game with their children where you present a situation and ask them how they would respond. Use their responses as teachable moments. Let them give you scenarios, too, so you can model for them how you would handle situations. It’s no different than having a family fire drill. You’re practicing what you’d like them to do in a given situation.

  54. clark January 19, 2016 #

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  55. A March 26, 2017 #

    I’ve been approached by a group I’m pretty sure were in that criminal line of work. i experienced it a little differently than a person making a call. They sent people to scout me told me weird stories that made no sense. Tried to get me to take short-cuts that are out of sight. And that didnt work the ring leader who is not too far away tried to lead me astray with free drugs and a good paying job. They ask if I was a traveler. They want to know if anyone will miss you. They tell you they are working on reaching their hopes and dreams. Make their life sound amazing. I realized something was off. I got into my car that they were home based in front of and just drove away. This was Austin, TX at the grafftti park. And i told the police what happened. They usually have a dog too…its a great way to wean young girls away with. If someone asks if you’re a traveler get out of there immediately. Stay in sight of people at all times. Do not go off with random strangers because they promise you stuff. To this day the thought of what could have happened still terrifies me. And i know they were pissed off that i didn’t go with them because their glares were so harsh. Just a very eye opening experience that you cannot ever let your guard down with strangers. Also one more tid bit, they looked just like me. White 18-20 year olds…you’d never guess it. But they are out there and this is so much more real more now than ever, and that makes this a huge terrifying problem for so many families and young girls literally everywhere. Also we really need to be teaching our children about the warning signs of these potential situations in order to avoid them from occurring. I’ve talked to many people who have confirmed my experience co-insides with how these people approach youths.

  56. Mary Microdot April 6, 2017 #

    Wow, suburban moms these days have such WILD imaginations. Every adult male is stalking you and your kids, just waiting for you to blink so he can grab your kids and sell them into sex slavery. THAT’S NOT HOW ANY OF THIS WORKS.

    Sex trafficking victims are overwhelmingly poor kids, LGBT, orphans & minorities. Runaways. Kids who are sold by foster parents into the sex trade. NOT stolen in broad daylight from middle class white moms in Hobby Lobby or IKEA.

    Just because some guy was acting sketchy in a store does not mean he was a sex trafficker casing you and your kid. You diminish actual sex trafficking crimes when you make such claims with nothing to back them up. I know you all crave attention and martyrdom, but please consider the harm done to actual sex trafficking victims when you make these claims.

    If someone is making you feel unsafe, do NOT interact with them. Contact store management immediately or call 911. The guy may not be a sex trafficker, but he could be mentally unstable and dangerous nonetheless. Don’t be a hero, Debra. (Or Janice. Or Susan).

    • Susan Norris April 6, 2017 #

      Mary, thank you for taking the time to comment. I’d like to address a few things you mentioned. First of all, the individual who shared the story I posted is not a suburban housewife, far from it. She has lived a life of victimization herself and has given the last eight years to serving survivors of sex trafficking every day by helping them get out of the life and work towards recovery. Making assumptions that people don’t know what they are about is also dangerous to the fight. I also work with survivors on a daily basis and the fact that I may live in the suburbs of a large city does not negate the story or my knowledge of the life. I do agree with you that the vast majority of victims come from low income, marginalized communities because they are easy prey. Many go missing and there isn’t a lot of noise made about it, which is heart breaking. I also agree with you that force is the least common way that victims are taken into the life. Most of them are lured or coerced after a lot of grooming has taken place. However, that being said, I have worked with survivors who have been taken by force. The problem with this issue is there are no absolutes, other than the fact that this is absolutely evil and we need to fight it. This issue is not a respecter of persons and just as soon as we all think we have it figured out, traffickers come up with a new way of doing business. Clearly, you or someone you love has been harmed by the life and this story struck a cord with you. I am sorry for whoever had to walk through it. But please realize there isn’t just one way to be taken into the life, there isn’t just one type of girl or boy sought after by traffickers, and there isn’t just one way to fight this issue. It will take us all to make a difference.

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