Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Day in the Life of an Atlanta Pimp

I witnessed a lot over the last couple of months that has caused a stirring in my heart. God has completely broken my heart for victims of the sex trafficking industry. I had always felt like God was leading me down a path that involved working with women, but I believe He has clarified His purpose when I encountered Princess. For those not familiar with Princess's story, she is a 19 year sex trafficking victim who was rescued from that life after 3 years. Her rescue team: just a group of people from the Fusion Young Adult Ministry who are true doers of His word and not just hearers. Her life has made such a lasting impression on me that words can not even begin to describe.

During the times I spent getting to know Princess and the life she left behind, in the back of my mind, I always had a ton of questions. Many of them she answered without me ever having to ask a single thing. However, I was always left with so many unanswered questions. How could he treat a person this way? Why did he force her to sell her body for 3 years to complete strangers? Why did he fill her head with such lies about loving her and protecting her when he didn't do either? What happened in his life that made him this way? Why doesn't he care? Why is his heart so cold?

I think I may have found some answers from the most unlikely source: a pimp in Atlanta that shared with ABC News what his life is like. I found an article entitled A Day in the Life of an Atlanta Pimp. How befitting.

Kenneth "Fresh" Vaughn is a 33 year old Nashville native who frequents Atlanta for business with his family. To Fresh, Atlanta is a good place to go for money and respect. His business, pimping. His family, the three girls that work for him by selling themselves for sex. Fresh says that he "provides security and guidance in return for their hard-earned money." Makes me wonder what kind of security he is providing when he sends the girls off alone on "dates" with strangers who could beat, rape or kill them? Is he providing guidance when he shows one of his girls how to get a man's attention at a hotel pool with just a wink?

The article points out how the turn over rate in the sex trade industry is very high, so pimps must do regular recruitment. Fresh's newest family member is Rachel. She's a blonde 19 year old from New York, but is considered a veteran in the sex industry. Her mother, also a prostitute, introduced her 10 year old daughter to the lifestyle, where she has been stuck ever since. Fresh picked her up at a bus station. That's where he does a lot of his recruitment. Bus stations are filled with troubled young girls escaping bad lives, in search of someone to care for them.

"They're low-level hustlers that have the gift of gab. And they have a very, very keen sense of how to pick up on a young female's weakness."

Men like Fresh prey on vulnerable girls, many of which are running away from sexual or physical abuse in the home. Pimps can easily spot the lost looks in her eyes and woos her with nice cars, clothes, and the promise of being her boyfriend. He promises to provide everything she needs and she falls for it. Little does she know that in exchange for the guise of being provided for and protected, she will have to give away her mind, her body, and her soul to show her loyalty to him. She is no longer allowed to think for herself, to make her own choices, pick out her own clothes, have a bad day, call in sick, or leave. She is his property, his money maker, his slave. He does not care about her feelings, her dreams, her pain. It's strictly about making money.

Fresh considers himself a "young black entrepreneur." He uses various methods to sell his girls, namely the Internet. He posts pictures of them online and delivers them to waiting customers at hotels. For the remaining girls, he has them hang around the hotel pools and gyms, catching the eye of potential johns. He also has his girls work "the Track," an area of streets and seedy strip malls known for prostitution. In Atlanta, the Track can either be Fulton Industrial Boulevard or Metropolitan Avenue. The Track is usually deemed the area for the lowliest prostitutes. Girls are left alone to walk the dark streets and alleyways filled with drunken and sex starved men looking to have their fantasies fulfilled. The pimps are usually watching from afar in the comforts of a parked car. So much for providing protection.

Fresh has convinced himself that he is a savior to those girls, a father figure. "They sacrificed their minds, their hearts, their bodies for the nonsense that they go through every day for me," Fresh explained. "Therefore I give it my all, 110 percent. I give them protection, knowledge, guidance, wisdom, instructions, knowledge, understanding." When there is fighting amongst the women, Fresh quickly reminds them that their job is to make money for him. He tells them that they are free to leave whenever they want to, but reminds them that they would be trading their current life with a life of working at McDonald's. The fighting ends and Fresh is reassured that he still has control of their minds. After he is done verbally abusing and berating the girls, he "builds them back up" to maintain their loyalty. He consoles them, even takes one of the girls and sits her on his lap and asks "Why are you sad?" He pours into them a false sense of love and security, and the family remains intact.

At the conclusion of the article, it mentioned that Rachel never returned to Fresh after a night on the Track. Fresh did not seem the least bit concerned. I was not surprised because it was no secret that he did not consider her as anything except property. I was reminded of what Princess shared with me about pimps and girls that leave. She said that a pimp is not going to waste time searching for a girl that has left. He will easily pick up more to replace her that night. The supply of broken and bruised girls is endless. For the girl that has run away, it will only be a matter of time before she comes back to her pimp willingly. She has no home to go to and no friends to turn to. He is her everything and provides everything. She will leave with no money, no clothes, and no mind of her own. She wont last for very long with out him.

Fresh shed a little light on what it's like to be a pimp in Atlanta. It saddens me how pop culture has watered down and glamorized the "pimping" lifestyle and made it the idol of many young men and women. When you look past the money, cars and clothes, I wonder if these impressionable minds would feel comfortable forcing a 10 year old girl like Rachel to be raped for money on a daily basis? Would they be okay with stripping away every ounce of dignity and self worth a young girl has in order to "keep her loyal?" Would they be okay with threatening to kill if their girl ever dared to walk away? Would they be man enough to follow through with those threats to make a point? I don't think they would. But, there are real pimps that are okay with it all. They do it everyday. Right here in Atlanta.

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