Sex Trafficking Help: What Does Grooming Look Like?

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A recent study on sex trafficking in Hawaii showed that three in four sex trafficking victims are trafficked by someone they know.  A friend, boyfriend, and even family members can be traffickers by using tactics to take control over their victims.  Grooming is one of those tactics, used by traffickers every day to intentionally manipulate someone to the point they become victimized.

What is Grooming?

Described by the American Bar Association as a preparatory process in which a perpetrator gradually gains a person’s trust with the intent to be sexually abusive, the red flags of grooming are: 

  • Targeting the victim
  • Securing access to and isolating the victim 
  • Gaining the victim’s trust 
  • Controlling and concealing the relationship 

Take Jeffrey Epstein: often Epstein used his “girlfriend,” an accomplice, Ghislaine Maxwell to befriend young girls. Maxwell was used to make the girls feel at ease, taking an interest in them, talking to them about the possibility of a modeling career, or how Epstein was caring, like a “father figure”. He would shower them with attention and gifts. Then, once he earned their trust, would start to abuse them, tying in sex and money to shame them into silence.  

Similarly, family members, friends, coaches, clergy, and other trusted adults, use similar tactics to target and isolate their victim. 

We know grooming is often used as a tool to control the child and to misdirect outsider’s concerns regarding an inappropriate relationship with the child. In cases of child sexual abuse, perpetrators are able to groom and manipulate the child into thinking the behavior is normal or an acceptable form of affection. This often prevents the child from speaking up about their abuse and increases the likelihood the child will repeatedly return to their offender. 

All too often, this happens within a family. A mother’s new boyfriend might befriend her teenage daughter. Eventually, after trust has been gained, and they are alone, he tells her he finds her beautiful. The abuse is normalized as an act of love or affection. He convinces her their relationship is like that of star-crossed lovers, a secret only they can know.  

Often, guardians and children can be simultaneously groomed, so the perpetrator is able to use the guardian’s trust to gain unsupervised access to the child. This abuse of trust can wreak havoc on families and parents who feel like they were a part of the victimization.  

Every year, nearly 700,000 children are abused in the United States. Of those 700,000, nearly 50,000 are victims of child sexual abuse. For many, child sexual abuse is too painful to comprehend. However, it’s important to educate ourselves on this violent crime of child sexual abuse, and understand how perpetrators are able to use grooming techniques to isolate and harm our children. 

Sex Trafficking Prevention education

Prevention education is one of the most effective ways to stop grooming and prevent child sexual abuse. We need to educate children about healthy adult/child relationships, and how to be safe online, and who they can talk to if they are feeling unsafe. It is essential to create an open and safe environment for children to express their fears and concerns as part of protecting them from perpetrators. 

It is also important for parents, guardians, and other adults to understand what grooming behaviors are and how to identify them. Adults should become familiar with the ‘red flags’ and behaviors of perpetrators, so they can intervene when inappropriate behavior is present. 

One of the most important ways to keep the children in our lives safe, is by taking time to have fun together, to listen, and to always remind them they are loved.

To learn more, sign-up for a webinar here.

Need Help?

Children who’ve endured physical and emotional abuse are 3 times more likely to be sex trafficked. This is why Ho’ola Na Pua partners with Child & Family Service and Catholic Charities Hawaii to provide a preventative program called Hope & Healing. This program offers a free ‘ohana style counseling to all children and families who are survivors of sexual abuse. The program screens and assesses the risk of sex trafficking while also providing treatment as needed. 

To make a referral, contact Child & Family Services at 808-681-1546. Applications can be faxed to 808-748-3135. Once an application is received, the referral source will receive a confirmation within 24 hours of receipt.

If someone you know may have been a victim of sexual abuse or exploitation, please call the Hawaii Department of Human Services Child Abuse Reporting line at 808-832-5300 or toll free at 1-888-380-3088. 

Stop It Now  

State of Hawaii Department of Human Services 

You can help survivors of sex trafficking

Be part of the solution! It’s with the dedication of our supporters that we are able to prevent sex trafficking and provide care for children who have been exploited. Whether you want to volunteer your time, voice, or resources, we’ve made it easy find a way to get involved with Hoʻōla Nā Pua.


Give to Hoʻōla Nā Pua

Donations to Ho`ōla Nā Pua support prevention, intervention, empowerment, and healing for our youth. Our Federal ID number (EIN) is 46-5139164. Your gift may be 100% deductible from your taxable income.

sex trafficking warning signs or red flags in Hawaii

Sex Trafficking Happens in Hawaii

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To understand this tragedy called sex trafficking, and to help vulnerable youth, it’s important that we all understand how trafficking comes to be and how it works.

How sex trafficking come to be and how it works

These youth are often young girls and boys who have run away from abusive or painful situations at home and are quickly picked up by traffickers. These traffickers don’t fit a simple stereotype, they can be male or female, boyfriend or uncle, sister, or aunt. The victims as well as the traffickers also represent every social, ethnic, and racial group.

Traffickers use emotional, financial, or addictive substances to entice and control. The emotional bond is one of the strongest with the young girls – they are promised love, marriage, or a lifestyle they don’t currently have. Others are promised basic needs such as food, shelter, or clothing, and many are approached at malls, movie theaters, or schools.

How do you know if someone is being trafficked?

It’s important to understand the signs of sex trafficking. Homelessness, poverty, domestic violence, run-aways, substance abuse, and mental or physical disabilities are all circumstances that attract traffickers. Pre-teen or adolescent girls are most susceptible to these forms of manipulation. This is why traffickers target locations where youth spend their free time, such as schools, malls, parks, bus stops, shelters and group homes.

What to look for in targeted youths:

  • Under 18 years old
  • Feels insecure, low self-esteem
  • Feels misunderstood
  • Fights with their parents
  • Feels parents don’t care
  • Desire for love and acceptance
  • Desire for independence
  • Tests boundaries and takes risks
  • Access to a computer/smartphone
  • Attracted to consumer goods
  • Walks to school or to the store alone
  • Past trauma
  • Poor attachment
  • Lack of a support system
  • History of violence or physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect
  • Mental health or substance abuse issues
  • Involvement in the Juvenile Justice System
  • Large family (lack of attention)
  • Absent father (physically or emotionally)
  • Family dysfunction, breakdown, poverty
  • Family, community, or societal sexualization
  • Prostitution in the neighborhood
  • Love for a pimp
  • Missing child

Sex Trafficking Red Flags:

  • Hypersexual
  • Exaggerated startle response
  • No identification
  • Lack of knowledge of whereabouts
  • Inconsistent stories
  • Does not make eye contact with males
  • Submissive, fearful, or uncooperative
  • Discrepancies in reported age
  • Evidence of controlling or dominant relationship; or significantly older intimate partner
  • Unhealthy attachment to or secrecy around computer, phone, or gaming

If you or someone you know needs help, call the HNP Helpline at 808-435-9555.

 

Make a gift to support essential services

DONATE TO ESSENTIAL SERVICES

 

You can help survivors of sex trafficking

Be part of the solution! It’s with the dedication of our supporters that we are able to prevent sex trafficking and provide care for children who have been exploited. Whether you want to volunteer your time, voice, or resources, we’ve made it easy find a way to get involved with Hoʻōla Nā Pua.


Donations for sex trafficking

Donations to Ho`ōla Nā Pua support prevention, intervention, empowerment, and healing for our youth. Our Federal ID number (EIN) is 46-5139164. Your gift may be 100% deductible from your taxable income.

keep-children-safe-online-sex-trafficking-hawaii

While you are safe and healthy at home, stay safe and healthy online

By | About HNP, Education, News | No Comments

As we all quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are spending more time online.  As we see websites and apps increase their visibility and access through free trials, the ability for our children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren to reach (and be reached) by anyone in the world has also increased.  The FBI recently issued a warning to parents, educators, and caregivers to be vigilant in practicing internet safety to protect youth from online sexual exploitation.

In Hawaii, 1 in 3 who are sex trafficked were recruited online.  There are several precautions that can be taken to stay safe.


ENCOURAGE HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS

  1. Communicate about what is important to you and encourage your family to share what is important to them.  Identify shared values that you can commit to together.
  2. Create a strong sense of trust through demonstrating honesty and creating a safe space for your family members to be honest.  This will help your children feel comfortable coming to you if they need help.
  3. Spend quality time together.

CREATE A SAFE SPACE ONLINE AND OFF

  1. Set parental controls on devices in your home.  Go to Bark-o-matic for tutorials on devices, apps, and games.
  2. Create an agreement with your children and make a commitment together on what type of behavior is safe.  
  3. Add a monitoring service.  HNP  is proud to be a Bark Affiliate. Bark is dedicated to helping keep kids safe online and in real life with their groundbreaking products for families.  Bark helps families manage and protect their children’s digital lives. Their award-winning service monitors 30+ of the most popular apps and social media platforms for signs of issues like cyberbullying, suicidal ideation, online predators, threats of violence, and more. Plus, Bark offers web filtering and screen time management tools that empower families to set healthy limits around the websites and apps their kids can access and when they can visit them.  Use this link to try it free for 7 days or visit Bark.us to learn more.

This is an opportunity for us to recognize that our community can work together to take care of one another.  We can look for healthy ways to connect with the people we care about and spend quality time with them so that they are less vulnerable to predators and more likely to be safe and experience a promising future. 

 

You can help survivors of sex trafficking

Be part of the solution! It’s with the dedication of our supporters that we are able to prevent sex trafficking and provide care for children who have been exploited. Whether you want to volunteer your time, voice, or resources, we’ve made it easy find a way to get involved with Hoʻōla Nā Pua.


Donations for sex trafficking

Donations to Ho`ōla Nā Pua support prevention, intervention, empowerment, and healing for our youth. Our Federal ID number (EIN) is 46-5139164. Your gift may be 100% deductible from your taxable income.

2020 Message from Ho’ola Na Pua President

By | About HNP, Advocacy, Pearl Haven | No Comments
Welcome, 2020 and the start of a new decade!
We are thrilled for all that is in store for Ho’ola Na Pua this new year. Many of us have been engaged in this work and mission for over a decade, and we look forward to another decade of change. 2019 truly marked a year of building incredible momentum and strengthening collaborative partnerships both locally and nationally. We are so thankful for the dedication and commitment on behalf of our donors, board members, staff, and volunteers.
January has been recognized as National Human Trafficking Awareness Month and provides a great avenue to continue to raise awareness and elevate the conversation. We hosted our 6th Annual Community-wide Awareness Walk & Fair on January 15, 2020. We were joined by Lt. Governor Josh Green, Attorney General Clare Connors, Acting Special Agent in Charge Homeland Security Investigations Lucy Cabral, and Honolulu Police Department Lt. Michael Brede who offered their remarks about the importance of combatting this issue in our community. We are encouraged that our state’s leadership is prioritizing this issue.
In January, we also observe Martin Luther King Day. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the most transformative disruptive leaders recognized for changing history and driving cultural shifts. His vision, courage, and compassion compelled him forward despite the challenges.
The ultimate measure of a man 
is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, 
but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy 
–Martin Luther King, Jr. 
We remain committed and steadfast in our passion for justice, creating systemic change, and building innovative programming. We know that today’s leaders will shape tomorrow’s history. Every significant moment in history had leaders who were committed to doing things another way.
Our vision is a community that ends the sexual exploitation of children. Protecting innocence at all costs and creating avenues for hope and healing for those who have been victimized.
We embrace a theme word every year, and this year our word is “amplify“. The word amplify means to expand, to increase in strength and voice, to multiply.
It still amazes me how many people do not know about the issue of child sex trafficking in America. There is still much work to be done.
Because of this – We will continue to:
  • Amplify the message of awareness and creating bright futures for our youth
  • Amplify our efforts to bring more people together to increase and multiply our impact
  • Amplify the light and shine the light brighter to create the chain reaction needed to bring systemic change and decrease shame and stigma for those who have been exploited.
 
Together, we have a lot to do in 2020 to increase our reach within the community and build more capacity to serve youth. We invite the opportunity to have more conversations with individuals and stakeholders to further shine light on the issue of sex trafficking in order to build the continuum of care needed.
We are focused on finishing the Re/Imagine capital campaign so that we can open the doors of healing at Pearl Haven.
Thank you for joining us on this journey. We are thankful for the relationships, support, encouragement, and commitments to being a part of the solution to protect the most vulnerable and create healthy and bright futures.
Thank you for your continued support,

 

Jessica Munoz
President Ho’ola Na Pua