When I first began working with victims of sex trafficking I had to develop a whole new vocabulary. I could no longer use the term “out of pocket” when I was going out of town and would not be able to be reached. And the name “John” was no longer the name of someone’s son or friend, but a buyer of sex, a trick or a client.
Even across state lines terminology differs. In Nevada, we call the entire subculture of prostitution and trafficking “the life”. In California, they call the life “the game”. But it is in no way, the life or a game. Terminology like this is intended to mask the real hurt and abuse that the women and girls endure everyday. In Reno, 4th Street is the known area where the heart of exploitation and trafficking occurs. We call this street “the track”, but you can also hear it be called “the blade” or “the stroll” depending what state or county you are in.
I can remember walking through the mall with one of our younger girls and I saw a man looking her up and down. He too, was an attractive young man. I immediately put her head down and told her not to make eye contact. I had a funny suspicion that he was tied to the game and making eye contact would mean she was his. This is the act of choosing up, whether accidentally or on purpose, by making eye contact, she is choosing him to be her pimp.
Despite a few differences in terminology, there is a set of rules and a distinct hierarchy of authority that is known and followed by everyone. It is passed down through family lines or shared amongst those involved. In this game, you play by the rules. Failure to do so can cost you your life.
To learn more about specific vocabulary, check out Shared Hope. Continue to educate yourself by researching trafficking facts and terminology.