Human trafficking is a form of undue influence and a serious global issue. Pimps and traffickers control the environment, access to information, relationships – every aspect of a person’s life – using techniques that manipulate how a person thinks, feels and acts. Using the lens of undue influence, activists, social workers, law enforcement, and mental health professionals can better learn how pimps and traffickers recruit, how to spot current victims, how to ethically intervene in a trafficking case, and how to help trafficking survivors recover from their experience.
Sex trafficking refers to when a person is coerced, deceived, pressured, or forced into prostitution. Often those targeted are vulnerable and come from a history of abuse or are runaways. The pimp or trafficker wants someone who will align with their rules: someone that can be viewed as an asset, not a liability. They look for easy ways to break a person, seeking nothing less than to create a dependent, willing, and obedient slave. With their minds controlled in such a way, the victim may appear to be an active participant in their suffering for the profit of the pimp. However, mind control does not erase the person’s old identity; it creates a new obedient one to suppress the original self.
Labor trafficking is another form of trafficking, further split into bonded labor, forced labor, and child labor. Forced labor, or involuntary servitude, is work or services provided under the threat of violence or punishment. It is one of the most common types of labor and often associated with slavery. Bonded labor is when an individual is paying off a debt or a loan through their work. Child labor is using children as cheap or free labor in factories, workshops, and other places.
BITE Model and Trafficking
Pimps and traffickers use tactics listed in the BITE Model of cult mind control. They use gifts, flattery, the promise of love, violent rape, modeling jobs, other employment offers, threats to harm family, and threats to expose in order to recruit and maintain control over their victims. Often, pimps and traffickers are much older than their potential victims.
Ending the Game
Ending The Game is a ground-breaking “coercion resiliency” curriculum that reduces feelings of attachment to traffickers and a lifestyle characterized by commercial sexual exploitation, thereby reducing the rate of recidivism among sex trafficking victims.
The curriculum is designed to educate and empower commercial sex trafficking victims by providing a framework to uncover harmful psychological coercion (aka “The Game”) that victims have been subjected to with their trafficking experience. By revealing a sequence of commonly-used, yet seldom-explained, mind control techniques used by traffickers, sexual abusers, media and other coercive agents, we aim to empower victims to acquire skills and end “The Game.”
Bring Ending The Game, the 1st National Sex Trafficking Intervention Curriculum to your organization! Click here to find out how you can bring the curriculum to your organization as well as understand the different options available.
We at My Life My Choice have been grateful for the opportunity to learn from Steven Hassan about mind control and its relevance to the trafficking field. As we learn new techniques to combat the debilitating effects of pimp control, Steven’s wisdom as both a cult survivor and an expert in his field are invaluable.
Steven Hassan’s book Freedom of Mind is especially valuable to those of us working in fields that are not yet understood as cults. I work in the field of trafficking for prostitution, in which survivors describe the same psychologically destructive social influences that Steven Hassan details in the book. To give a few examples: an extremely controlling leader (pimp or trafficker) who postures as omnipotent, coerced adherence to a worldview and values that turn one’s previous values upside down, control and regulation of body functions, enforced dependence, degradation, coerced gratitude, sensory deprivation, capricious rules, traumatic bonding, and deliberate creation of dissociated parts of the self. Steven Hassan demystifies the complex manipulation and adverse influence of malignant groups in a way that clarifies and instills hope. The book is useful not only for advocates and survivors but for clinicians and attorneys who want to better understand and help their clients.
There is important and impactful work to be done at the intersection of Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Mind Control (Undue Influence). Steven Hassan is leading the way for people who work with exploited youth to apply the best of what he has pioneered in the study and application of Freedom of Mind. His dynamic nature and perspective as a cult survivor are priceless.
We were quite honored to have Steven Hassan as our keynote speaker at the 2014 National Human Trafficking Conference in Cleveland, OH. Mr. Hassan shared the BITE Model of Mind Control applied to Trafficking, which really gave all of the first responders and all of the conference attendees an understanding of how pimps and traffickers operate to take control of the victim’s behavior, intellect, thoughts and emotions which was invaluable information for those working to help restore the lives of victims of this heinous crime.
Steven Hassan has nearly 40 years of experience and knowledge that will advance our efforts to develop methods for breaking bonds held by human traffickers. Steven is a leader in the field of social psychology and his one-on-one work to replace destructive bonds with healthy long-term relationships, has the potential to improve responses to human trafficking rapidly and effectively. Steven’s work goes far beyond physical removal of a victim from a perpetrator, empowering survivors to develop healthy memories and experiences in place of harmful and destructive thoughts and behaviors. We are proud to be in partnership with Steven and the team he has built at Freedom of Mind.
I got my hands on this invaluable book, Combating Cult Mind Control, when I met Steven at a Human Trafficking conference for FBI and Homeland Security. He was presenting on mind control and I was sharing my story as a survivor of Sex Trafficking. Listening to Steven from the audience, I was floored that 90% of the mind control techniques he outlined were exactly what my pimp had done to me. Yes I was physically abused and fearful of escaping, but I was also under some intense mind control. Now, having read this book (and underlining almost every paragraph) I can finally put a name to the techniques my pimp systematically indoctrinated me with (e.g. emotion control, double-bind, thought suppression, etc.). It’s opened my eyes to a whole new way of understanding what was done to me and, more importantly, how to undo it! Knowledge truly is power. Thank you, Steve, for this power!