Sexual exploitation often happens through a process called Recruitment.

Recruiting is the process traffickers use to carefully select and enlist a new person to be exploited.1 The process begins once a trafficker or recruiter has identified a person vulnerable to exploitation (see our blog post about who is most vulnerable to exploitation), and the process of luring and grooming them into exploitation begins.

Luring is considered to be the seduction stage and the stage in which a trafficker or recruiter starts communicating with a person, the end goal being exploitation. Communication often comes in the form of offering to fill a persons basic need. These might include:

– Food
– Water
– Shelter
– Rides
– Cigarettes
– Haircuts

During the luring stage a bond is established and the recruiter starts creating a personal relationship which is then turns into grooming.

Grooming is when a trafficker or recruiter deliberately develops a relationship of physical and/or emotional dependancy with someone in preparation for exploiting them.2 Often this relationship comes in the form of “boyfriending” or “girilfriending”. The recruiter starts to pose as a trusted friend and/or significant other gaining trust and breaking down boundaries. They use different tactics such as:

– Gift giving
– Providing drugs/alcohol/shelter/protection
– Flattery
– Giving affection
– Saying “I love you”
– Isolating the victim from their friends and family

But then the switch is flipped. The recruiter starts the payback stage saying things like “if you really loved me you would…” or “you owe me for…”. During this time there is often physical and emotional abuse occurring alongside a feeling of dependancy on the recruiter. Grooming can take days, weeks, months or even years.

Our next blog post will discuss control tactics used for keeping someone in exploitation.