Hi, my name is Brian Asbury, and I am an over-the-road driver with Holland Enterprises, Inc. I have been involved with TAT for about the last 4 years, and during that time I have learned a lot about this terrible, heinous crime called sex trafficking, and how it destroys the lives of those who are being trafficked. To put it mildly, I get angry when I hear people, especially my fellow truckers, making light of it, making jokes about it, calling trafficking victims "whores", "bitches", "trash", "lot lizards", and other derogatory names. And also implying that they're just doing it for drug money, or doing it willingly. Thanks to Truckers Against Trafficking and the awesome work they do, there are more truckers than ever before who know the truth about these women and girls, and want to help, and I am very thankful for that. But there are still many who are uninformed, and there is some things about those girls that the uninformed may not know or care about.
First of all, many, if not most of those girls going from truck to truck, or walking the track, are under the age of 18. Federal law says that those under the age of 18 are trafficking victims, nothing else has to be proved. End of story. This means they cannot legally consent. Pimps find these girls and give them love and acceptance for a while, then they demand in return, that the girls go out and prostitute themselves. (Many of these girls come from abusive homes, thus they desire the love and security they didn't get at home. They are perfect targets for criminal traffickers).
Pimps will beat them, torture them, starve them, drug them, and threaten their families if they don't. They are forced to perform sexual acts on several men a day and make a quota or they get beaten. If they resist, the traffickers will do all of the above to break their spirit so they don't try to run. Also it needs to be understood that these girls have to put on the best acting job of their lives in order to survive. They have no choice. Understand; just because you may see them smiling and acting a certain way doesn't mean that they want to be out there doing that. They don't, they are being forced. So if they knock on your door asking if you want company, they are not doing that of their own free will. Please, call 911, call the number TAT gives, do something. Don't turn away. You just might save a life by calling 1-888-3737-888.
Also it should be understood that being trafficked doesn't end at age 18. If a trafficker can keep making money off a trafficked woman, he'll keep trafficking her till she's 40 or beyond. And most of those adult women walking the track were forced into it as minors. I have met some trafficking survivors in the 4 brief years I've been involved with TAT, and many of them have rough lives because of prostitution records they do not deserve as a result of being trafficked AS MINORS.
This makes it painfully difficult for them to get gainful employment or any kind of foothold in this life, and many of them return to their traffickers because they have no other way to survive. Think about it. And their traffickers will often tell them this. In fact about a year ago I read an article about a 41-year-old woman who was arrested for prostituting herself at a truck stop. It was noted in the article that her mother had started trafficking her when she was 14 years old. My fellow truckers, ponder that. She may have been prostituting herself because of a prostitution record that kept her from getting gainful employment. These women need help, a hand-up, not scorn and judgment. And they certainly don't need a criminal record for illegal activity that they were forced, under duress, by traffickers to do.
These are just some of the facts and realities of sex trafficking. Get the TAT materials and hand them out. Educate your fellow drivers about this. If you see drivers or others making jokes about trafficked girls or making lot lizard jokes, speak up. I sincerely believe that it's going to take all of us who are informed to break through the ignorance. If you see a driver who has a "NO LOT LIZARDS" sticker on his truck, have a talk with him and educate him about the realities of sex trafficking, and how derogatory that name is to trafficking victims. Thank you my fellow drivers, and be safe out there. BA