The Five Disguises
When we teach prevention strategies to youth, we help them learn how to identify the five disguises of an exploitative person. Adults, too, should know how to recognize the practice of these deceptively coercive techniques used by traffickers to manipulate and control people. In the film above, Avery – an advocate and a survivor of trafficking – and Sergeant Dan Steele of the Denver Police Department / FBI Innocence Lost Task Force – unpack these key terms:
- Pretender: Someone who pretends to be something he or she is not in order to build a relationship with the target. The most common form of this is the boyfriend – frequently referred to as a Romeo pimp.
- Promiser: Someone who promises great things to his/her target, such an amazing dream job, a great lifestyle, or travel. This strategy focuses upon figuring out what the target wants, and then tailoring the promises to those desires.
- Provider: Someone who offers to take care of the target’s needs. These needs can be emotional, but they are often meeting more basic, immediate needs, such as providing food and shelter.
- Protector: Someone who uses physical power or intimidation to protect the target, but also to control. This strategy is often used to get the target out of a situation he or she already wants to escape; the protection is seen as an improvement from his/her current conditions.
- Punisher: Someone who uses violence and threats to assert and maintain control. When the veneer of the other disguises begins to fade, the punisher disguise is revealed.
Vulnerable and victimized youth are particularly susceptible to being tricked by these disguises. How can you contribute to providing authentic promises, provision, and protection?
“Avery’s family helped her leave the control of her traffickers and now she is finishing a degree in business. She has started a non-profit to help others exit the life.