Sex Trafficking Terms

Abduction-Abduction is the act of leading someone away by force or lies.

Automatic — A term denoting the victim’s “automatic” routine when her pimp is out of town, in jail, or otherwise not in direct contact with those he is prostituting. Victims are expected to comply with the rules and often do so out of fear of punishment or because they have been psychologically manipulated into a sense of loyalty or love. All money generated on “automatic” is turned over to the pimp. This money may be used to support his concession/phone account or to pay his bond if he’s in jail.

Bottom — 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.

Brothel (a/k/a Cathouse or Whorehouse)— These establishments may be apartments, houses, trailers, or any facility where sex is sold on the premises. It could be in a rural area or nice neighborhood. Most brothels have security measures to prevent attacks by other criminals or provide a warning if law enforcement are nearby. The security is two sided–to keep the women and children in, as well as robbers out. The places often are guarded (and open) 24 hours a day, but some have closing times in which the victims are locked in from the outside. Victims may be kept in this location for extended periods of time, or rotated to other locations every few days. 

Caught A Case— A term that refers to when a pimp or victim has been arrested and charged with a crime.

Choosing 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.

Circuit — A series of cities among which prostituted people are moved. One example would be the West Coast circuit of San Diego, Las Vegas, Portland, and the cities between. The term can also refer to a chain of states such as the “Minnesota pipeline” by which victims are moved through a series of locations from Minnesota to markets in New York.

Coercion — Threats or perceived threats of serious harm to or physical
constraints against any person; a scheme intended to cause a person to believe
that failure to perform will result in serious harm to or physical restraint against
any person.

Commercial Sex Act — Any sex act on account of which anything of value is
given to or received by any person.

Cousin-in-Laws— Victims of pimp partners who work together.

CSEC is a term used for the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.

Daddy — The term a pimp will often require his victim to call him.

Date — The exchange when prostitution takes place, or the activity of prostitution. A victim is said to be “with a date” or “dating.”

Deception-In the context of human trafficking, the act or practice of intentionally deceiving another person for the purpose of exploitation. For example, a trafficker may tell a young woman that a modelling contract or a singing career await her in another place, when in fact she will be exploited for sex or labour.

Debt bondage-Occurs when a trafficked person owes money to his or her trafficker for transportation, visa fees, safe passage through borders, food, clothing, housing, drugs and is expected to repay it. The trafficked person has no control over the accounting of the debt. A trafficker may arbitrarily increase the amount a trafficked person owes at any time, while promising that he will go free as soon as the debt is paid – which it might never be.

Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST) is a term used to describe the trafficking of Unites
States citizens under that age of age 18.

Escort Service — An organization, operating chiefly via cell phone and the internet, which sends a victim to a buyer’s location (an “outcall”) or arranges for the buyer to come to a house or apartment (an “in-call”); this may be the workplace of a single woman or a small brothel. Some escort services are networked with others and can assemble large numbers of women for parties and conventions.

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.

Exploitation-Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

“Eye contact” is never permitted with another pimp and may result in physical violence of a
severe nature.

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.”

Fender Lizard — “A chick that will do anything to get on the back of a guys
motorcycle. (A bike prostitute).”

Finesse Pimp/Romeo Pimp — One who prides himself on controlling others primarily through psychological manip­ulation. Although he may shower his victims with affection and gifts (especially during the recruitment phase), the threat of violence is always present.

Forced labour-“All work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily.”

Forced migration-Refers to “the movements of refugees and internally displaced persons (those displaced by conflicts) as well as people displaced by natural or environmental disasters, famine, or development projects”.

Fraud-Fraud is a knowing misrepresentation of the truth that induces another person to act to his or her detriment.

Gorilla (or Guerilla) Pimp — A pimp who controls his victims almost entirely through physical violence and force.

“Grooming” is the process often used to describe taking a healthy adolescent sexual boundary
and progressing to commercial sex with strangers. Often referred to as “seasoning,” a
systematic process to break down a person’s will, remove personal boundaries, and achieve
total control over an individual causing a total loss of freedom. Physical, emotional, and
psychological means are used as coercive tools of total control and involve force and fraud as it
relates to trafficking. Any child under the age of 18, can not consent to commercial sex and is
considered a sex trafficking victim without having to prove force, fraud, or coercion. THERE ARE

Harbouring-Harbouring or receiving occurs when a human trafficker hides or houses a trafficked person—and keeps her under his or her control—in order to exploit her.

Head Cut — A victim getting beaten down by their pimp.

Human Smuggling — The facilitation, transportation, attempted transportation,
or illegal entry of a person or persons across an international border, in
violation of one or more countries’ laws, either clandestinely or through
deception, such as the use of fraudulent documents.

In-Pocket — Not paying any other pimp than the one controlled by the victim.
Not speaking to any other pimp.

“John” (a/k/a Buyer or “Trick”) — An individual who pays for or trades something of value for sexual acts.

Kiddie Stroll – An area known for prostitution that features younger victims.

Loose Bitch — Pimps call a loose bitch a victim who keeps choosing different
Turn Out — To b

Lot Lizard — Derogatory term for a person who is being prostituted at truck stops.

Madam— An older woman who manages a brothel, escort service or other prostitution establishment. She may work alone or in collaboration with other traffickers.

Out of Pocket—  The phrase describing 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.

Pimp — A person who controls and financially benefits from the commercial
sexual exploitation of another person. The relationship can be abusive and
possessive, with the pimp using techniques such as psychological intimidation,
manipulation, starvation, rape and/or gang rape, beating, confinement, threats
of violence toward the victim’s family, forced drug use, and the shame from
these acts to keep the sexually exploited person under control.

Pimp Circle — When several pimps encircle a victim to intimidate through verbal and physical threats in order to discipline the victim or force her to choose up.

Pimp Partner — Two pimps who are friends and allow their victims to work

Post-traumatic stress disorder-A severe anxiety disorder or emotional illness that results from exposure to extremely traumatic events that cause intense fear, such as frightening, life-threatening, violent, or very unsafe experiences. Victims of human trafficking can acquire this condition as a result of their trafficking experience. Symptoms may include nightmares, re-visiting the trauma over and over again, intense, physical reactions to reminders of the trauma, depression, feelings of detachment or numbness, irrational anger and shame/self-blame, suicidal thoughts and feeling isolated, and feelings of hopelessness and alienation, inability to trust others, headaches, stomach problems and chest pains

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.

Receipt of persons-Harbouring or receiving occurs when a human trafficker hides or houses a trafficked person—and keeps her under his or her control—in order to exploit her.

Reckless Eyeballing — A term which refers to the act of looking around instead of keeping your eyes on the ground. Eyeballing is against the rules and could lead an untrained victim to “choose up” by mistake.

Renegade — A person involved in prostitution without a pimp.

Residential brothels-Residential units, such as family homes, condominiums, and apartments, where sexual services are provided.

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.

Serving a Pimp — The actual phone call one pimp makes to another after
“taking” his victim.

Sexual exploitation-A person trafficked for sexual exploitation is forced to provide sexual acts against her will for the financial gain or material benefit of the trafficker.

“Square” is a term used that depicts a law enforcement officer and those that do not
understand the “game.” Also used to describe a person leaving the “life.”

Squaring Up — Attempting to escape or exit prostitution. 

Stable — A group of victims who are under the control of a single pimp.

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.

Track (a/k/a Stroll or Blade) — 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.

Trade Up/Trade Down — To move a victim like merchandise between pimps. A pimp may trade one girl for another or trade with some exchange of money.

Traffickers — Traffickers are people who exploit others for profit. They can be
any demographic, individuals and groups, street gangs and organized crime,
businesses or contractors.

Transfer-Involves a human trafficker moving a trafficked person from one location to another for the purpose of exploitation. May also involve transferring a trafficked person to another trafficker for the purpose of exploitation.

Trick — Committing an act of prostitution (verb), or the person buying it (noun). A victim is said to be “turning a trick” or “with a trick.”

Turn Out — To be forced into prostitution (verb) or a person newly involved in prostitution (noun).

Vicarious Trauma-Occurs when a service provider begins to experience such symptoms as emotional stress, intrusive imagery, greater sensitivity to violence, difficulty sleeping, difficulty with trust, increased cynicism and aggression as a direct result of witnessing the trauma of others.

Wifeys/Wife-in-Law/Sister Wife — What women and girls under the control of the same pimp call each other. (See Family/Folks and Stable.)