Yes, specific terminology is used by traffickers. I found this very disturbing to a lay figure such as myself. As with many cultures, words signify a particular meaning of something about to happen or needs to be done or a way to get a message across to someone without another person knowing what is being discussed. In the Black Culture, the terms are called “slang.” For example, many have heard, “What’s happening, Homie? This means, “What’s going on in your life, friend? You may have heard the word “crib.” No, not the bed an infant sleeps. “I’m tired, I am about to head to the crib.” This means, “I am going home.” And lastly, a popular phrase among the black culture, “You got it going on Pimpin!” Which in this way, simply means, “You are doing well for yourself big man! (Or woman)  

But not here. Not when it comes to exploitation. There are many terms and phrases used to manipulate, scrutinize and keep victims in check, to train them to go with the flow. The following terms come from, “Renting Lacy,” published by Linda Smith.  

Finesse Pimp/Romeo Pimp- One who prides himself on controlling others primarily through psychological manipulation. Although he may shower his victims with affection and gifts, the threat of violence is always present.

Gorilla Pimp- A pimp who controls his victims almost entirely through physical violence and force.

Bottom- A female appointed by the trafficker/pimp to supervise the others and report rule violations. She operated as his “right hand,” the bottom may help instruct victims, collect money or punish the other girls.

Choosing Up- The process by which a different pimp takes ownership of a victim. Victims are instructed to keep their eyes on the ground at all times. Further, according to pimping rules, when a victim makes eye contact with another pimp, whether accidentally or on purpose, she chooses him to be her pimp. If the first pimp wants the victim back, he must pay a fee. If that happens, the first pimp makes the victim work that much harder to replace lost money. 

Reading this language may not sound horrendous. However, victims hear this language every day from their trafficker, and a must for them to learn in order to survive. Imagine being called a “bottom.” It suggests the victim may have some rank in the business by definition, but in a pimp’s eye, that victim is still “his” money. As human beings, we are responsible for educating ourselves to enhance the work of those who have chosen to help victims…and survivors of exploitation and to share what we know with others who may not know. One by one, each of us can improve a survivor’s life.    

Written by: Priscilla Thorton