Terminology is a huge red flag of sex trafficking as the lanuage is unique to this subculture. School staff can be aware of language used by students during conversations on campus. Hearing any of these terms is a red flag indicator of possible involvement. A student may be using terminology in conversation without being a victim, however, their friends may be using the terms. The definitions are from Shared Hope International.
Bottom/Bottom Bitch | A female appointed by the trafficker/pimp to supervise the others and report rule violations. Operating as his “right hand,” the Bottom may help instruct victims, collect money, book hotel rooms, post ads, or inflict punishments on other girls.
Branding | A tattoo or carving on a victim that indicates ownership by a trafficker/pimp/gang.
Caught a Case | A term that refers to when a pimp or victim has been arrested and charged with a crime.
Choose Up | The process by which a different pimp takes “ownership” of a victim. Victims are instructed to keep their eyes on the ground at all times. According to traditional pimping rules, when a victim makes eye contact with another pimp (accidentally or on purpose), she is choosing him to be her pimp. If the original pimp wants the victim back, he must pay a fee to the new pimp. When this occurs, he will force the victim to work harder to replace the money lost in transaction.
Daddy, Boyfriend, Boss, Manager | The term a pimp will often require his victim to call him one of these names.
Exit Fee | The money a pimp will demand from a victim who is thinking about trying to leave. It will be an exorbitant sum, to discourage her from leaving. Most pimps never let their victims leave freely.
Family/Folks | The term used to describe the other individuals under the control of the same pimp. He plays the role of father (or “Daddy”) while the group fulfills the need for a “family.”
The Game/The Life | The subculture of prostitution, complete with rules, a hierarchy of authority, and language. Referring to the act of pimping as ‘the game’ gives the illusion that it can be a fun and easy way to make money, when the reality is much harsher. Women and girls will say they’ve been “in the life” if they’ve been involved in prostitution for a while.
Out-of-Pocket | The phrase describes when a victim is not under control of a pimp but working on a pimp-controlled track, leaving her vulnerable to threats, harassment, and violence in order to make her “choose” a pimp. This may also refer to a victim who is disobeying the pimp’s rules.
Quota | A set amount of money that a trafficking victim must make each night before she can come “home.” Quotas are often set between $300 and $2000. If the victim returns without meeting the quota, she is typically beaten and sent back out on the street to earn the rest. Quotas vary according to geographic region, local events, etc.
Seasoning | A combination of psychological manipulation, intimidation, gang rape, sodomy, beatings, deprivation of food or sleep, isolation from friends or family and other sources of support, and threatening or holding hostage of a victim’s children. Seasoning is designed to break down a victim’s resistance and ensure compliance.
Squaring Up | Attempting to escape or exit prostitution.
Stable | A group of victims who are under the control of a single pimp.
Track/Blade/Stroll | An area of town known for prostitution activity. This can be the area around a group of strip clubs and pornography stores, or a particular stretch of street.
Trick/Date/John | Committing an act of prostitution (verb), or the person buying it (noun). A victim is said to be “turning a trick”, “with a trick”, or “on a date”.
Turn Out | To be forced into prostitution (verb) or a person newly involved in prostitution (noun).
- Shared Hope International, S. (2016, January 27). Common Sex Trafficking Language. Shared Hope International.
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