“I FEEL INVISIBLE!” A PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEM THAT CAN LEAD TO TRAFFICKING!

Sex-trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the US. It is a massive $9.8 billion industry. Globally, it is a $32 billion industry,which means the US represents almost one-third of this, with Atlanta ranking Number 1 in terms of it being the city where it is most lucrative!

There are certain factors that put people at risk of becoming a victim of trafficking. These include poverty, low levels of education and discrimination relating to race, gender or class. They also includevolatile family situations like domestic violence. In all these situations, there is one common denominator. That is the children, usually girls, have very low esteem! Additionally, they may feel they are invisible!

imageHuman beings are naturally social beings. We have the need to feel connected and valued by others, especially our family and friends. When we are ignored or ostracized, we feel we are invisible. This is especially true for adolescents who are already experiencing hormonal changes and transitioning from child to adult. They are no longer really considered as children, but are not yet adults. The feeling of being invisible can have a negative emotional and psychological impact on adolescents, with their self-esteem levels dropping dramatically, as they do not feel they are being fairly treated, heard or respected!

Traffickers are well aware of the emotions of adolescents and teenagers and so search for their victims in school yards, malls and online. A common approach is to infiltrate themselves into the life of a victim by playing the role of a boyfriend, thereby starting the grooming process! They buy the girls gifts, give them praise and pay them a lot of attention. Over a period of time the girls begin to trust the trafficker, the pimp, who by this time has persuaded the girls to turn away from their family and friends by playing with their emotions. They may say things like, “Your friends don’t really care about you, but you know I do!” Or, “I would never treat you like a child, the way your parents do! You are an independent woman in my eyes!”

Adolescents and teenagers respond to this sort of flattery, especially when they are feeling invisible, or lacking self-esteem. The trafficker knows this! They know that the girls will be flattered with an offer of becoming a model or an actress and may pose as a Photographer for a Modelling Agency, a Movie Producer, or someone withstrong connections to this glamorous industry, which is so appealing to a teenager. The trafficker may even offer to buy clothes and pay for photo shoots. The result is that these photos will invariably be put on an escort service website, or something similar!

The girls will eventually be coerced into running away, with the promise of a glamorous life that their parents would object to! Once the girls have left, they are then forced into working for the pimp. A pimp may have numerous ‘girlfriends’ and if the girls believe he is THEIR boyfriend, they are likely to feel jealous about the other girls and therefore want to please their ‘boyfriend.’ The pimp knows this and plays the girls’ jealousies off each other! In doing so he is able to keep them in line and under his control.Through intimidation and persuasion the girls are coerced into prostitution. Once they have completed their first act, the girls believe they are now criminals, but that their ‘boyfriend’ will protect them.

HOW CAN WE PROTECT OUR GIRLS?

Powerhouse believes that in order to combat this feeling of being invisible, or lacking self-esteem, adolescents and teenagers should get involved in a Program that helps to build their confidence and courage. The POWERHOUSE Personal Safety & Empowerment Program isdesigned specifically for this. Through Emotional, Verbal and Physical Self-Defense, it trains individuals to build their courage, increase their self-esteem and provide the confidence to heighten their sense of leadership, which helps them to reach their personal goals and full potential. RISE UP! SPEAK UP! POWER UP!

Take the first step towards your Personal Safety and Empowerment TODAY by contacting us at POWERHOUSE STRONG!

powerhouseStrong@gmail.com