Why Her? How Traffickers Target Victims – Guest Post by Shared Hope

In 1943, Abraham Maslow published “A Theory of Human Motivation.” His theory is that humans have a hierarchy of needs ranging from the most fundamental needs at the lowest level to the need for self-actualization at the highest level. Humans can’t reach the next level of “need” until they achieve the prior level.

Here is a simple example of this concept:

But today traffickers are using this theory to identify the needs of our youth.

Traffickers may follow a recruitment process similar to this:

  1. Identify the need of the child
  2. Fulfill the need
  3. Remove any other sources of need fulfillment 
  4. Exploit the child’s dependence for need fulfillment by forcing them into prostitution

One reason traffickers pray on kids is because they are more vulnerable than adults. They are more naive, and at-risk kids who have experienced abuse or extreme conflict in their homes may not only be eager to run away, but may also be desperate for the love and attention of an adult. Many kids who run away from home do so because they experience abuse, or because a member of the family is an addict, is violent, or both. If runaways have nowhere to go – no friends or other family members they can rely on and trust – they need to find food and shelter someplace else, which makes them especially vulnerable to trafficking.

Here’s how a pimp might use Maslow’s theory:

“It could never happen to my child”

That’s what Brianna’s parents thought too. Unfortunately, the scary, inconvenient truth is that unless your child has reached self-actualization and has no further needs, they could unsuspectingly fall victim to a trafficker.

Brianna was a 17-year-old high school student, involved in cheerleading, taking college courses for an early start on her nursing degree and worked at a local restaurant with her sister. She had no idea that friendly conversations she had with a regular customer could end with a trafficking ring planning to transport her to Arizona, likely to be sold.

You are not powerless.

On the contrary, you are the best advocate we have. Know why? Because you are here, reading this article about an issue that has still barely crept on to the radar of our society.

If you know or meet a girl who exhibits some of these signs, don’t be afraid to ask questions:

  • At risk of being homeless or running away from home
  • Severe family issues like drug addiction, alcoholism or abuse
  • Signs of fear, anxiety, depression, tension or nervousness
  • Hyper-vigilant or paranoid behavior
  • Interest in relationships with older men
  • Unexplained shopping trips or purchases of new clothing and/or jewelry, especially if the clothing is revealing or suggestive
  • A “boyfriend” who seems overly-concerned with her whereabouts or is otherwise controlling

If she is in trouble, you may be the only one who tries to intervene. If you need help or guidance, or want to report a suspected case of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 888.373.7888.

Thank you for this post Shared Hope!


Published by KimberlyRae

Award-winning author of over 20 books, Kimberly Rae has been published over 200 times and has work in 5 languages. Her novels on fighting international human trafficking (Stolen Woman, Stolen Child, Stolen Future) are all Amazon bestsellers. Rae's trilogy on fighting trafficking in small-town North Carolina (Shredded, Shattered, Restored) was reviewed by Publisher's Weekly. Kimberly lived in Bangladesh, Uganda, Kosovo and Indonesia before health problems brought her permanently back to the US. She currently lives in Georgia with her husband and two children.

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