“Man of Dreams” turns out to be Trafficker

April 3, 2013

Senior year of high school is an exciting time for many teenagers. Student activities, field trips, prom, finals--these are just a few of the things that keep teenagers occupied throughout the year. Many are looking forward to attending college and finding careers. 
This was especially true for one senior girl who was particularly excited about going off to college. However, during her senior year, tragedy struck within her family, and as a result she became depressed and lonely and began looking online for a way to distract herself  from the loneliness she felt. During this time she received a friend request on Facebook from a man she didn’t know, but who she thought was cute. So despite not knowing who this person was, she decided to accept his friend request.

Soon after accepting his friend request, they began messaging. They talked about everything from traveling to marriage to family. Over a short period of time, he made her believe that they would live a happy, wonderful life together. It had only been a month, but she believed that she was falling in love with him and decided after graduation to travel to Seattle to meet this “man of her dreams” in person. 

Once there, things took a dark turn. He picked her up, drove her away and dropped her off at a corner telling her that she would need to start selling herself. 

"It turned out that this “man of her dreams” was actually a trafficker, a poser, who had been seducing this girl into believing that he was in love with her in order to get her to do what he wanted." 

It was a devastating blow for this young girl, but due to the difficulties surrounding her family life, she decided to stay with this man. She truly believed that he loved her, despite the fact that in order to gain his love she had to sell herself to other men for his profit.

This senior was not the only one to be targeted by this trafficker through social media. In another instance, a young seventeen year old was coerced into sex trafficking. When the young girl found out what she would be doing, she tried to escape but it was no use. The girl was beaten, forced to take cocaine and taken to an apartment building where she was forced to have sex with 14 different men all in one night.
These young girls are just two out of many who are currently being coerced into the sex trafficking world through social media. Many of the people who recruit these young girls pretend to be in love with them in order to gain their trust and to get them to do what they want. However, in reality these “knights in shining armor” are actually “posers” getting victims to believe what they want.

"Nowadays, in social media, anyone can be a poser. A person can upload a picture that really isn’t him or her. They can fake what they like and pretend to be interested in all sorts of music, movies, and books. A person can change their name, age, location, and ultimately be whoever they want to be without anyone ever knowing who they really are. As a result of this, traffickers have adopted the “poser” image in order to impress young victims and to get them to believe what they want."

So, how would you know if you were being lured into trafficking? Should you look out only for males who look scary or suspicious? 

"The truth is that when it comes to traffickers there is no ideal type. Traffickers can be both male and female; they can be old or young, and they can even be a student, peer, or a family member."

So with such a wide range of traffickers, how can we know what to look for? 

Over two years in development, Freedom Youth Project Foundation has created a prevention training for youth called LiarsAndPosers.  It teaches youth a  system of “Red Flags” in the form of acronyms called L.I.A.R.S (in-person traffickers) and P.O.S.E.R.S. (online traffickers). This system of “Red Flags” is a simple way to help teens remember the “Red Flags” of potential traffickers. Since its development, we have presented our Liars and Posers training to various youths across areas surrounding Bexar County. We believe that by informing youths, we will help equip them with the knowledge they need to protect themselves should a trafficker ever try to approach them.

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