Give for Freedom

Trafficking Terminology Part 1

The world of human trafficking is a world all it’s own. There are so many intricacies and details to the system and it is these things that enable the issue to hide in plain sight. After six years of working to combat this issue we are still learning new details, facts, and definitions that help grow our understanding of the issue and how we can take action. Naturally, one of our biggest objectives is helping people learn these details and broaden their understanding of the issue. Why are we so driven on this front? Because we know that the more people understand the world of human trafficking, the better we can take action in educating others, providing prevention to those at risk, and helping survivors regain their lives

So with that goal in mind, we want to take the next couple of blog posts to discuss some of the key terms in the world of trafficking. 


The Life”

This is the subculture of prostitution. It comes with its own rules, hierarchy, language, and sets of authority. Women and girls refer to it as “The Life” when they’ve been involved in prostitution for some time. Pimps refer to it as “The Game,” which makes it sound like it’s an easy, fun way to make money. Unfortunately, this “game” destroys the lives of millions of girls and women. “The Life” truly is a culture and world that exists in our society, but stands completely on its own. (Click here to read our recent post about how the girl is a commodity to be traded and sold in trafficking.)


"Buyer," “John,” or “Trick” 

A John is a patron of prostitution - when someone pays for, or offers something of value in return for a sex act. Often times, girls will refer to such encounters as “Turning Tricks”. One time we met with a young lady who was trying to make a change and leave the life. She told us that she had three different phones containing the numbers of 900 “tricks.” (Click here to read our recent post about the John’s role in the business of trafficking.)


“Romeo Pimp” vs. “Gorilla Pimp” 

Believe it or not, there are different types of pimps. The “Romeo Pimp” is a pimp who prides himself on controlling his girls through psychological manipulation. This pimp will shower his girls with gifts and affection, treating them like his girlfriend, and making them fall in love with him. Then one day, the switch flips and he becomes extremely violent, threatening her life and the lives of anyone she loves. All the while, he peppers in some gifts and affection to keep those strings attached. The technical term for this manipulation is trauma bonding - where the abuser instills in his victim a deep-seated fear for her life, coupled with gratitude for allowing her to live. On the other hand, the “Gorilla Pimp” employs control tactics almost exclusively comprised of physical violence, threat, and force. One way or the other, these young ladies and girls live very dangerous lives. (Click here to read our recent post about how the pimp’s role in the business of trafficking.)


These are the most basic definitions and key terms. You’ve probably heard them before, but these set the groundwork for the terms we’ll discuss in the weeks to come.