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Nobody thinks these things happen in their neck of the woods. The fact is that not only is it happening, but it routinely goes unreported. According to the Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (IDVSA) and a study performed there is an estimated 79,000 youth victims of domestic minor sex trafficking in the state of Texas today.

East Texas is actually a prime breeding ground for grooming. With almost half of the county living under poverty level, a high rate of drug and alcohol abuse and one of the busiest Foster/CPS systems in the state of Texas, our children are prime targets. In some districts almost 70% of the children qualify for free or reduced lunches.

Since most trafficking victims are not taken by force, pimps use grooming to acquire their victims.

Grooming is the term used to work the victims towards letting their guard down to joining the game. Through the illusions of grandeur and allure of a better life, money and notoriety is too much for some to resist. For a girl who may have no self esteem being desirable enough to financially gain from sex is also a big deal. Perhaps she has no father to reenforce her worth. Looking for that strong male role model, she is sent directly into the arms of a pimp.

Part of the grooming process can be taking them shopping, telling them about all of the nice things they will have, promising to hold onto their earnings for luxury cars and designer bags. In many cases the pimp pockets the money and in the end, they have nothing to show for it. This may seem shallow to some, but when you do not have any food in the house, your parents are on drugs, or you feel all alone in the world, these thoughts may seem pretty appealing. A sad way of trying to make a better life for themselves. This is not even addressing the girls in relationships with boyfriend pimps who force them into the game or those violently taken into the industry.

Another aspect of grooming is the illusion they can leave whenever they choose. Some victims are allowed to talk to family until the pimp gradually tapers off contact. They are constantly monitored, supervised and have no privacy. Some try to escape and end up dead or hospitalized, while others are allowed to leave for an “exit fee” which is usually set so high they can't afford to pay it. For those lucky enough to escape they may have nothing left but their life, some die.

According to studies 99% of those trafficked are never rescued. The average life expectancy after entering the game according to human trafficking statistics is 7 years. Hope for Justice claims to have rescued hundreds of victims of human trafficking, ranging in ages from 1 to 63-years-old.

If victims tell police, will they go to jail for solicitation or drugs?  Others threaten the victims family if they try to escape. Living in constant fear the bait has been taken and the trap has shut. Emergency room visits or trips to the doctor are commonly accompanied by the pimp or another escort, leaving little opportunity for them to ask for help.

Part 2 & 3 may be found here: 

https://www.athensreview.com/news/easy-targets-broken-homes-lead-to-vulnerabilities/article_f697be3e-5a8d-11ea-a525-3bba8bce6089.html

https://www.athensreview.com/news/human-sex-trafficking-is-happening-in-your-own-backyard-rural-communities-at-risk/article_f3884fd8-5a8d-11ea-affb-47561cc9e638.html

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