The pimps who are trafficking young women and girls on the street in the U.S. have a great marketing tool; the media. As Americans when we hear the words “sex trafficking” we immediately think of women and children overseas who are being forced into the sex trade, or who are brought into the United States for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
We usually do not think closer to home; Americans trafficking Americans. Think about women and girls you have seen out late at night on the streets, when you are coming home from work or a social event, dressed in short dresses and spike heels. Most people turn their heads and look away, not wanting to look at the faces of these young women and girls who are forced to work out in the street. To fully understand sex trafficking in the United States, it requires an open mind and letting go of what is shown on television. You have to let go of the media’s portrayal of the “joys” of prostitution shown in music videos on VH1 and MTV, and open your eyes to the violence and control the pimps have over their victims.
Tina Frundt was fourteen years old when she was forced into prostitution. She was like any typical teenager, finding her identity and defying her parents were at the top of her list. When a man came into Frundts’ life that showed her attention and listened when she complained about her parents, she did not think twice about the fact that he was ten years older than her. He informed her that she was mature for her age, and that she understood him better than anyone his age. Tina stopped believing anything her parents told her, and believed he was the only one who truly understood her. After six months of dating, Frundt believed she loved him, at least that is what he told her, and she ran away to be with him. The couple ended up in Cleveland, Ohio and he informed Tina she was going to meet the rest of his family.
Tina had no idea that the “rest of the family” meant three other girls. After she met the family she was told what her role would be; Frundt would go out to “work” that night and bring him back the money. He assured Tina that he would always love her no matter what, but he needed to know how much she loved him by making sure she would do anything for him. The first evening his friends came by the motel, he told Tina to have sex with someone, but she did not want to so his friends raped her.
Afterward, he told her “that wouldn’t have happened if she would have just listened to him first.” Tina blamed herself instead of being angry at him for getting raped. He then picked out her clothes, told her what to wear, how to walk, what to say to “Johns” and how much money she was to bring back to him. Then she was forced back out into the streets. Tina walked the streets back and forth for hours, she finally got into a car because they were always being watched and she had to get into a car sooner or later. Their nightly quota was $500 but Tina was only able to make $50 that night to give back to the pimp.
As a result, he beat her in front of the other girls and then sent her back out to the street to earn the rest of the money. This was the man that took Tina out to eat, listened to her, gave her advice, and had complete trust in, now she was seeing another side of him. Frundt was shocked at the situation she found herself in, but was also scared. She was locked in the closet numerous times, and had her finger broken which never set right. None of the girls were allowed to see a doctor so they tolerated the pain by pushing it deep down inside them and trying to forget it ever happened. People have asked Tina several times to this day, “Why didn’t you just leave? Couldn’t you escape?” She now knows that it was not her fault that a pimp manipulated a child.
As I stated earlier, the pimps use media to their advantage in luring young women and girls. Pimps are glamorized in TV shows, music videos, and movies, and young people use the word “pimp” in everyday conversation. They do not understand the reality behind the term. Traffickers and pimps prey on women and girls by finding their weakness and then exploiting it; children are easy to manipulate because they quickly become dependent on a pimp.
After a pimp gets into a victim’s mind it is easy for him to maintain control. The women are required to bring him $500-$2,000 a night, they are always a “bitch” or a “ho” and are reminded of that daily. The victims are part of his “stable,” and if they do not want to follow his rules then he may sell them at anytime to another pimp.
A non-profit anti-trafficking organization in Washington, DC, reported that a pimp that had three young girls in his “stable” were each bringing back $500 every day. The pimp was making about $24,000 a month or $642,000 a year tax free by selling sex with girls and young women and then keeping all of the money.
Tina’s situation, fifteen years ago, is still going on today. Girls every night are forced onto the streets, beaten and raped, to make money for pimps.
Emily Biggs attends Milligan College in Tennessee majoring in Exercise Science. She plans to pursue a career in Physical Therapy or Occupational Therapy. She plays collegiate fastpitch softball for Milligan.