A few days ago, a missionary friend posted an article on Facebook. There are a lot of sex trafficking stories out there, with the media taking the subject up as the new “hot topic.” The stories are all very similar, so I usually don’t read them.
But the title of this one caught my attention: “Woman’s Vegas ‘dream’ smashed by sex industry torture”.
Most of my presentations to students about the topic, emphasize how pimps will try to sell them a dream: love, fame, fortune, security, etc. Whatever fits her fancy, he will promise. The title of the article lends to that idea, so I clicked it thinking it might be a good tool to reinforce Red Light Rebellion’s information.
The story ended up being lengthy, and the torture described was hard to read. I cringed, and thought of all my friends who share similar stories. But the violence described wasn’t what angered or devastated me: what wasn’t written did. At this point, if you haven’t read the article in its entirety, please do so before reading any more of this post….
Sharpe’s most trusted prostitute, Kariah Heiden, was ordered to teach the woman “the game,” the report said. Heiden was several months pregnant at the time, but together the pair began arranging “dates,” targeting older men in casinos who returned their smiles….
But the beatings started just a few weeks later, the woman said. Sharpe beat Heiden and the woman with a leather belt after he suspected they lied about their earnings, the report said….
The woman wanted to leave after the attack, but Sharpe and Heiden kept a close watch on her, she said. She didn’t believe she was free to go, the report said.
Sharpe once struck her in the head with the firearm, causing severe bleeding, she said. Heiden helped her clean the blood after the pistol-whipping, she said, but that was the only time she recalled Heiden offering aid….
Sharpe often complained he couldn’t beat Heiden because she was pregnant, the report said.
What did you think of her throughout the article? Obviously on the pimps side right? Was only beaten once, and that was for lying; which is understandable I guess. Kept the woman a prisoner to the pimp. Only helped the woman once. Doesn’t seem like an upstanding person. The end of the article reports the Lieutenant Karen Hughes addressing her:
Heiden was also arrested on the same charges as Sharpe, Hughes said. Heiden was Sharpe’s “bottom girl,” who watched the abuse happen without reporting him, she said.
Good thing that was at the end of the article. My blood began to boil so much reading that. How dare she! How dare she!!
To condemn Kariah because she watched and didn’t report the abuse???
Did anyone ask Kariah how she ended up with the pimp?
Did anyone care to ask about all the things that happened to her?
Did anyone think to consider that she was so victimized, battered, and brainwashed that she was too petrified to contact authorities?
The Bottom is a pimp’s right hand girl. She is the most trusted, the most loyal, and usually the most victimized. One of my friends was a Bottom and her story is more brutal than any other survivor’s that I know. And it’s not because her pimp was more violent than other pimps, it is because my friend was the Bottom.
Fortunately my friend has a detective who was on her side and helped get her out of jail and intro an aftercare program. She is now getting promotions at her job and raising her children. But guess what has been holding her back all year? Her criminal record. She was initially charged with all 20+ felonies that her pimp was charged with. Even though the charges were dropped, they still come up when a business runs her record.
But why was she charged in the first place? She was caught in a sting operation and would not cooperate with police to disclose important information on her pimp. Why? Because the pimp’s family had her son, and she knew that if she said or did anything against the pimp, they would hurt her son. So she stayed silent.
She was in jail for 18 months before getting word that her son was safe with her family. Once she found that out, she was more than willing to rat on the pimp. Could this be Kariah too? We will never know because we decided just to blame her for doing what her pimp told her to do, assuming that obedience was loyalty to the pimp and not a matter of survival or brainwash.
New articles are constantly appearing of those exploited in the sex industry. If these articles report the pimp being punished, it often includes the mention of the pimp’s “girlfriend” or trusted prostitute who “helped” him. Bottoms are recruited, victimized, exploited, and brainwashed the exact same way as every other victim. Their experience may even be more unique because the pimp relies so heavily on her.
Law enforcement, the media, and our judicial system has to stop condemning the Bottom as a criminal alongside the pimp. We must begin to recognizing her as a victim too. She needs rehabilitation, healing, and services just as much as the others. We cannot just rescue and offer services to the prostitutes we like or whose stories make the most sense to us.
If we are serious about eradicating sex slavery, if we truly believe that one exploited woman is too many, than we must view every woman under a pimp’s control as a victim.