MAINTAINING CONTROL STAGE

The Maintaining Control Stage starts after the trafficker has reached their ultimate goal: Getting the victim to sell sex for the first time.

This stage follows the Victim Selection Stage and the Grooming Stage and often signals the end of some pretenses. For instance, if the trafficker has been telling the victim that he or she is the only one in their life, they now will introduce them to the other victims they control.

 

If the trafficker has been telling the victim they will have to sell sex only once, they now will tell the victim: “You did it once, what does it matter if you do it again?”

The one pretense that continues during this stage is the trafficker telling the victim they love them or at least acting in a way that the victim interprets as being loving. This is a strategic move on the part of the trafficker. The “love” lie serves a purpose: It keeps the victim in line. The victim truly believes the trafficker loves them. And, because of this, the victim will not run away even when the situation is unbearable.

 

In fact, 88% of victims said they would not want to pursue the arrest of their trafficker. 2

As many researchers noted, the relationship between the trafficker and victim is much like that seen in domestic violence where the victim will continue to love and protect an abuser despite the violence.

Any physical control that began in the Grooming Stage also will continue in this stage and often get significantly worse.

As this stage progresses, the victim will have sex with more and more men per day — about 10 on average 3 — and about 75% of victims will have to turn over all money they earn to their trafficker. 1,2

As long as the victim is “in the life,” the Maintaining Control Stage will continue.

  1. Feehs, K., & Currier, A. “Federal Human Trafficking Report 2020.” Washington D.C.: The Human Trafficking Institute [Based on the 362 active criminal sex trafficking cases in 2020 in which at least one method of coercion was identified, the top method of coercion was withholding pay (75%, 271)]

  2. Bouché, V. "Survivor Insights: The Role of Technology in Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking." 2018. A report for Thorn [[Survey of 260 DMST survivors helped at agencies across U.S., 74% of victims were allowed to keep little or no money they earned]

  3. Raphael, J., Reichert, A., and Powers, M. “Pimp Control and Violence: Domestic Sex Trafficking of Chicago Women and Girls.” Women and Criminal Justice. 2010. 20:1-2, 89-104 [Between July-November 2007, 71 female trafficking victims from Chicago were interviewed and the average number of buyers per day was 10]

QUOTES FROM TRAFFICKERS ON CONTROLLING VICTIMS

 “I liked being big daddy, knowing that a woman loved me or liked me enough to sell her [herself] and give me the money.”

“It made me feel like I was a lucky guy to have women pay me and control their heads and bodies.”

Raphael, J. and Myers-Powell, B. “From Victims to Victimizers: Interviews with 25 Ex- pimps in Chicago.” Report from the Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Canter of DePaul University College of Law. 2010. [Conducted surveys of 25 former sex traffickers in Chicago]

QUOTES DESCRIBING EVENTUAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN VICTIM AND TRAFFICKER

IN THE WORDS OF A VICTIM

“He was really nice at first. And then after, like, a while, I don’t know, he wasn’t as nice. But I thought he was nice. Then he’d always tell me he was sorry, and he would make it better.” 1

FROM THE EXPERTS

“Unpredictable violence along with love and admiration.” 2

 

“All of the victims experienced unpredictable violence from their pimps along with the sense of love and admiration, which, like conditions suffered by battered women, served to hold them in the relationship.2

  1. Bouché, V. “A Report on the Use of Technology to Recruit, Groom and Sell Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Victims.” 2015. Thorn

  2. Raphael, J., Reichert, A., and Powers, M. “Pimp Control and Violence: Domestic Sex Trafficking of Chicago Women and Girls.” Women and Criminal Justice. 2010. 20:1-2, 89-104

HOW TRAFFICKERS MAINTAIN CONTROL OVER VICTIMS

PHYSICAL, SEXUAL ABUSE

  • 59-92% of victims are physically abused by the trafficker 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8

  • 70% of victims are beaten on the head and face 8

  • 42% of victims are beaten every day 6

  • 44-68% of victims are threatened with physical abuse 1,3

  • 31-52% of victims are raped or face sexual violence from the trafficker 1,2,3

 

FINANCIAL ABUSE

 

  • 69-75% of victims cannot keep any of the money they earn 1,2,3

  • 63% of victims are told they are indebted to traffickers because they were given food, clothing, and gifts 3

 

OTHER TYPES OF ABUSE

 

  • 85% of victims are verbally abused 2,3

  • 48-62% of victims had a substance dependency started by the trafficker or exploited 1,2

  • 25% have trafficker brandish a weapon at them 1,7

  • 28% percent of victims are forced to use drugs 8

  • 28% of victims have forced abortions 8

  • 7% of victims were tattooed or branded by trafficker 1,7

 

ADDITIONAL CONTROL METHODS

 

  • 75% have to live in a certain place 3

  • 44% are watched when they aren’t working 3

  • 38% are not allowed to leave to visit family or friends 3

  • 10% have trafficker threaten their child or family members 1

  • 6% have their food controlled or withheld 1

 

OTHER COERCION TACTICS 7

 

  • Make victim complicit in a crime, such as trafficking when the victim helps recruit new victims

  • Threaten to get victim arrested

  • Force victim to watch rapes of others

  • Ensure victim gets pregnant and use child as leverage

  • Threaten to tell family about online photos or prostitution arrests

  1. Feehs, K., & Currier, A. “Federal Human Trafficking Report 2020.” Washington D.C.: The Human Trafficking Institute [Based on the 362 active criminal sex trafficking cases in 2020 in which at least one method of coercion was identified, the top methods of coercion were withholding pay (75%, 271), physical abuse (59%, 213), inducing or exploiting a substance dependency (48%, 175), threats of physical abuse (44%, 158), and rape or sexual violence (31%, 114). Other forms of coercion include: brandishing weapons (25%, 89), verbal and emotional abuse (18%, 65), threats to a victim’s child or family members (10%, 35), tattooing or branding (7%, 27), and controlling or withholding a victim’s access to food (6%, 23). Note: The percentages do not add up to 100% because cases may have had multiple methods of coercion.]

  2. Bouché, V. "Survivor Insights: The Role of Technology in Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking." 2018. A report for Thorn [[Survey of 260 DMST survivors helped at agencies across U.S., 74% of victims were allowed to keep little or no money they earned; 83% of victims were physically abused; 62% had a substance dependency induced or exploited; 49% were rape; 85% were verbally abused]

  3. Raphael, J., Reichert, A., and Powers, M. “Pimp Control and Violence: Domestic Sex Trafficking of Chicago Women and Girls.” Women and Criminal Justice. 2010. 20:1-2, 89-104 [Between July-November 2007, 71 female trafficking victims from Chicago were interviewed: 69% of victims said the trafficker took their money; 63% had been told they were indebted to traffickers because of food, clothing, and gifts; 76% had been physically abused; 68% had been threatened with physical abuse; 52% were raped by the trafficker; 85% of victims were verbally abused]

  4. Raphael and Shapiro 2002; Raphael, Jody and Deborah L. Shapiro. 2002. ‘‘Violence in Indoor and Outdoor Prostitution Venues.’’ Violence Against Women 10(2):126–139 [Researchers interviewed 222 women involved in indoor and outdoor prostitution venues in Chicago, Illinois and found traffickers were responsible for 50% of violence and rapes victims face]

  5. Sterk, C., and Elifson, K. “Drug-related violence and street prostitution.” 1990. NIDA Research Monograph No. 103. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [Study looked at 106 female victims in the New York metropolitan area and 206 male victims in the Atlanta area, and found 90% of victims are physically assaulted by traffickers]

  6. Raymond, J., Hughes, D., and Gomez, C. “Sex Trafficking of Women in the United States: International and Domestic Trends.” 2001. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice [ Study used interviews with 128 trafficked and prostituted women to follow their paths from the time before they were recruited or trafficked and found  86% of victims beaten by their trafficker; 42% of victims are beaten every day]

  7. Reid, J. “Entrapment and Enmeshment Schemes Used by Sex Traffickers.” 2016. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment. Vol. 28(6) 491–511 [Study looked at 79 female youth who were minors at the time of their initial exploitation in sex trafficking and who received social services between 2007 and 2012 from three agencies located in two metropolitan areas in Florida. Study did not give exact percentages of the following, only indicated they were common experiences of victims: Traffickers “routinely beat and rape” victims; traffickers “show weapons, threaten at gunpoint”; traffickers “tattooed” victims]

  8. Lederer, L., and Wetzel, C. “The health consequences of sex trafficking and their implications for identifying victims in healthcare facilities.” 2014. Annals of Health Law. 23:61–91. [Conducted a focus group of 107 women controlled in the past by a sex trafficker in “cities across the U.S.” and found 92% faced physical violence, often to head, face (70%); 28% percent of victims forced to use drugs; 55% percent of victims had abortions; 28% of victims had forced abortions]

VIOLENCE AGAINST VICTIMS: DOES IT GET BETTER?

In 2007, a group of researchers wanted to find out if the violence and coercion tactics used by traffickers during the Grooming Stage — before the victim sold sex — continued into the Maintaining Control Stage — after the victim sold sex — and, if so, to what extent.

 

To find out, they interviewed 71 women in Chicago who reported they had been recruited into prostitution and still had a trafficker with the trafficking ongoing. The women were given a list of control tactics and asked: 

  • “Did any of the following happen to you during recruitment?”

  • “Does your (trafficker) do any of the following to you (currently)?”

 

The results show that not only is violence common during the Grooming Stage, it gets worse after the victim starts to sell sex:

Abuse before and after selling sex copy.jpg

Raphael, J., Reichert, A., and Powers, M. “Pimp Control and Violence: Domestic Sex Trafficking of Chicago Women and Girls.” Women and Criminal Justice. 2010. 20:1-2, 89-104