Spook Chart

With today being Halloween, it seems only natural to talk about fear.  I have lots of fears, but so does every human being.  You don’t have to be a survivor of rape or genocide or a natural disaster to have fears.  My fears may look different than of someone without large amounts of trauma littering in their past, but I bet most of what scares us stems from the same areas… the lack of faith in people, the desire to be loved, the unknown of death.

Personally, there’s one fear in particular that I find immensely embarrassing because I consider myself to be a very independent person. I have an intense fear of doctors.  In my mind, there is no logical reason why I should be afraid of a medical doctor who I know is just there to help me.  Yes, in the midst of my trafficking situation, I was abused by doctors and so one might think that was the connection.  But if that was the line of thought, then by the same deduction I should also be afraid of construction workers, politicians, accountants, mechanics, lawyers, forestry workers, computer techs, stock brokers, restaurant managers, professors…

Perhaps the most frustrating part is that I can’t explain away my terror.  I simply just don’t understand it.  I would honestly rather face a rabid dog than enter an exam room.  I’d rather stand in front of a room of 1,000 to give a speech than call up a medical office to schedule an appointment.  It terrifies me like a child and I hate it and I don’t understand it and I want it to go away. I can’t give up on it.

We all have fears, I’ve already said that.  If I’ve learned anything from trying to make a new life, it’s that I can’t let fear control me.  When I got out and ran, I was plagued with thoughts of being found, killed and  humiliated if my trafficker ever found me. I was terrified that this whole new space of goodness around me would come crumbling down the day he’d inevitably arrive.  Something happened though.  Each day would pass and I would still be alive– exhausted, but alive.  I realized this fear was draining me of much opportunity to start fresh and I had to let it go.  I had to find a way to move on.

I made a “Spook Chart” and I want you to make one too. (Yes, it sounds like a 1st Grade craft project, but bare with me.) In your journal, on a napkin, on the computer, wherever, write out the 5 columns below. Under “Your Feeling” rate on a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest) how big this fear is.  Under “You Rationale”, rate how rational you think this fear is, and under “Friend’s Rationale” how you think a loved one would rate it.

The Fear Your Feeling Your Rationale Friend’s Rationale Date I Moved On
Being Found By My Trafficker 10 3 5 March 20th
Doctors Visit 10 2 1 not yet
Sitting with my back to people 8 4 1 not yet
Not being able to escape a building 6 2 1 not yet
Failing at my 2nd Chance at Life 10 3 1 not yet
Rejection of Loved Ones 10 5 2 not yet
Being “Found Out” 8 4 2 not yet

There are NO right or wrong answers here.  Sometimes my friend’s numbers are higher than mine, sometimes they’re the same.  Sometimes I think the fear is rational, sometimes it’s not.  What’s most important about this exercise is that you’re naming what the fear is and processing through it.  AND, if there ever comes a time when you can fill in the last column, then rejoice!  “Moving on” doesn’t mean that you’re no longer scared, it just means that you’d decide this fear is no longer going to have a hold over your life.

You or I may never have a “move on” date for some of our fears and that’s OK.  People say a certain level of fear can be healthy.  I just know that I’ve got some “healthy” still to be working towards.

May this blog serve as an education to those who do not yet know or understand the atrocities of trafficking and may it serve as an encouragement to those who understand it all too well.

Pimpology: The 48 Laws That Make Me Sick

WARNING: The following post contains lots of judgement and little grace

There’s a book called “Pimpology: The 48 Laws of the Game“.  I’d like to officially rename it “Pimpology: The 48 Laws That Make Me Sick.”  I’m angry – no furious – that a book like this exists.  I know first hand how brutal and manipulative a pimp can be, but there’s something especially nauseating about seeing the strategy for his abuse in written (and published) form.

Published in 2008 by Gallery Books, “Pimpology” is 192 pages worth of step by step instructions on how to become a successful pimp.  Law #5: Prey on the weak, Law #20: Get into a Ho’s head, Law #29: Play one Ho against the next, Law #36: Be international know, nationally recognized and locally accepted… the list goes on.  Every “law” (1-48) has an entire chapter to coincide.  Entire chapters were written on how to break a girl’s spirit, how to scan a crowd for the easiest prey, how to keep her psychologically entrapped once you’ve got her and how to make money from it all– prestige from it all. “He breaks down real life situations and explains the art of manipulation, and persuasion that is pimping.” says one reviewer.

For as little as $11.98 you too can learn how to be a pimp.  Just check out Barnes&Noble.com.  You could even order a used copy for $8.33 or read it instantly on your Nook for a mere $10.99.  $10.99… apparently all it takes these days is $10.99 to learn the proven method of breaking the spirit of a 13-year-old girl by shoving her into habitual rape.  All it takes is $10.99 to learn how to dehumanize a child by placing her in a dog crate for hours on end.

It sickens me that this #@%$ is allowed to be in print.  I’m all for upholding our rights of free speech but this is absurd. This book – whether is says it on the dust cover or not– is the promotion of torture and trafficking in its most obviously of terms.  Shame on you Barnes&Noble and other retailers who sell this publication.  Shame on you Nook and other e-book carriers.  Shame on you Gallery Books and other publishing companies who promote similar writings (yes, there’s more than one of these books). Shame on you author, Karen Hunter– you’re a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist– AND A WOMEN.  How dare you help further the lie that the culture of pimping should be glorified.

Yes, I’m angry.  Yes I’m using strong language and keeping my viewpoint narrow.  Usually, I strive to see both sides of a coin, but in this circumstance I make no apology for my close-mindedness.  Eleven years of my life were destroyed using principals like the ones shared in this text so I believe I have a right to some righteous anger here.

To the credit of Barnes & Noble, there was a recent petition launched to remove another book called “The Pimp Game” from their online marketplace.  After only 1,134 signatures, acquired through Change.org, the effort became a success and to my understanding the book is gone from B&N’s online listings.  Check out the progress by clicking here.  There still are however, many other publications, like the one talked about in this post, still available for purchase.  Since a petition has been proven to work in this area, check out these two others available for signing or start your own today! It may not be huge step in helping, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Ask Target to stop selling the book Pimpology. OR Tell Amazon to take a stand against human trafficking.

Thank you.

May this blog serve as an education to those who do not yet know or understand the atrocities of trafficking and may it serve as an encouragement to those who understand it all too well.

Why I Didn’t Run from Godzilla?

Have you ever watched one of those scary movies?  The kind where the single girl runs upstairs to get away from the axe murderer breaking down the front door?  I tend to find myself yelling at the screen and rolling my eyes at the young women’s stupidity.  How could she be so dumb to get herself trapped like that.  Judgement like, “if I where in her position, I’d grab my cellphone and run to the neighbor’s house!” fly out of viewers mouths.  Sure, this sounds like a much better plan than hiding in a closet, waiting for death with nothing but a red high heal to defend yourself.  I still think many of these movies are lame, but the truth is, in the reality of trauma, few of us ever respond like we think we’re going to.  Most of us would love to say that we’d be the hero types– the ones to jump in front of a bullet or a moving car, but we just don’t really know what we’ll do until the gun or bumper is pointed in our direction. But who knows? Maybe you would be the hero.  Maybe you would have the sound mind to outsmart Godzilla in a B-rated scary movie.

The reality of a trafficking situation cannot be found in Godzilla however. Godzilla is a monster much more one-dimensional than the trafficker I faced.  With Godzilla, there’s little emotion involved in the attack.  Godzilla never bought you dinner when you had no money, provided a roof over your head, threatened to kill a loved one instead of you if you moved out of his path. There are literal pimp handbooks published about how to break a girl’s spirit so that she never has the will to rebel or leave. (More on this in Friday’s upcoming post.)  Traffickers know exactly what they’re doing.  There in a business and it’s expensive to see a girl you’ve “invested in” leave.  They’re not going to let her leave.  I may not have been bound in physical chains 24/7 for 11 years, but there was no way my traffickers was letting me just run out the front door.

“Why didn’t you run?” This is easily the #1 question I’m asked when people hear about my story.  Wanting to leave is much, much different though than knowing how to leave. I saw my only friend in “the life” killed at a very young age.  I witnessed my father murder animals.  I was frequently beat and tortured by my trafficker who had the most unpredictable temper I’ve ever known.  Even though my trafficker was my own father, I never believed that he loved me – only that I was a disgusting commodity in his eyes.  So when he said he’d kill me if I tried to leave or tell anyone, I believed him.

There does come a point though when you hate “the life”, your life, so much that you no longer care about the threat of physical violence.  It’s at this point where the constant voice of “no one will believe you” kicks in.  I remember thinking a million times that it’d be worth trying an escape… a few times I even did… but I’d resolve to go back because there was no where else for me to go.  I was certain that no one would believe me.  I had been brainwashed into believing that I was nothing– just a worthless hoe that people would merely look at as a liar, a troubled young girl, a slut, a crazy person.  I felt that there was no where I could turn for help, no one who would understand… so I stayed.  I told myself to suck it up and bare it. Move on. Go numb. Survive.

I can’t pinpoint the moment where I realized escape really was possible. There were many, many  circumstance and people together that made my redemption possible. Somehow all the planets aligned and new life started to occur.  I knew that if I stayed I’d either be killed or kill myself, so I chose to jump in faith and run.  I would just say that I was damn lucky, but I don’t believe in luck.  Contrary to much of what I’ve been taught, I choose to believe in hope.

May this blog serve as an education to those who do not yet know or understand the atrocities of trafficking and may it serve as an encouragement to those who understand it all too well.

Leprosy

For those victimized by trafficking, sometimes the overarching emotion is not fear or hurt, but loneliness. Some girls even go back to “the life” because of it. Some desperately drag friends into the life with them simply because of the innate need for companionship. Have you ever experienced loneliness? True loneliness?

It’s not a “woe is me” mentality. We’re not talking Eeyore here. It’s more of a feeling of being rejected. It’s an intense ache of your soul that’s similar to the grief a person feels after losing a loved one. Your heart tells you that you should be in community with another, but that individual simply isn’t there. You feel so isolated, forgotten, misunderstood and unworthy. A lonely person feels diseased.

Mother Teresa, right, talks with patients coming to the mobile leprosy clinic at Dhapa outside Calcutta, India, in this 1960's handout photo made available 10/10/03. (AP Photo/Missionaries of Charity, HO - NO SALES Original Filename: ITALY_MOTHER_TERESA_ROM117.jpg)

Have you ever thought of what it must have been like for a leper in Biblical times, or for the lepers in modern day Indian leper colonies? I have. You see, leprosy is a chronic disease that’s caused by bacteria. In short, it affects the skin, nerves and eyes of the infected person. One source about the topic said, “For many years, [leprosy] was considered [mysterious and] associated with some type of curse, and persons with the disease were isolated and ostracized.” This statement sounds a lot like our culture’s perception of prostitution today… mysterious, associated with a curse – like being a bad person, and those “diseased” are ostracized. Pimps give their victims a disease called Trauma, by means of injection, through prostitution.

This also reminds me of the HIV/AIDS struggle in our country. HIV positive can probably speak to similar experiences of the judgmental looks, women taking a step back in an elevator or men wiping their hands off on their pants after coming in contact with you. No more can we equate Leprosy, or HIV, or the aftermath of forced prostitution with a person being “bad.” Victims of disease are just that—victims. They are common people affected by a bad disease, not bad people affected by a common disease.

I had the honor of hearing another survivor’s story recently and she too commented on this aspect of loneliness. Like her, my desire to eradicate loneliness is strong. Because of this, I’m sending out a challenge… specifically to churches, faith groups and healthy families: invite in the people with broken pieces! Please do NOT try to go out and build a “safe house” on your own, try to “rescue” girls off the street and into your homes in one night — unless you’re a professional. What I ask instead is that you invite those with broken hearts into your own heart for healing. Churches/faith groups – contact your local professionals (social service providers, law enforcement, etc) to see how you can support their efforts! Families – keep your unit strong and then look into mentor, foster, or adoption programs for children in need! (I’ve been so blessed to read comments from all of you adoptive parents out there!)

We ALL can play some part in curing the leprosy of trafficking.

May this blog serve as an education to those who do not yet know or understand the atrocities of trafficking and may it serve as an encouragement to those who understand it all too well.

“The” List

A group of my friends pretty consistently make fun of me for becoming overly excited about the small things in life. Once, it was the funny way a water bottle flipped over on a check-out conveyor belt. Yesterday, it was pure pleasure to watch a thin rectangle of light bounce off of a my pen’s metal clasp. Often, it’s a bouncy ball or a hot cup of coffee on a freezing bench. I’m not a simple-minded person, but I do latch onto simple pleasures.

I’m currently reading the book One Thousand Gifts where the author, Ann Voskamp (Ann’s blog), talks about her journey of giving thanks. More specifically, she writes about making a grand list of what she’s thankful for as a way of moving on from trauma in her life. I’m not very far into the book yet but so far I see great wisdom in Ann’s words. Similarly, I’ve been keeping track of some “defining moments” in my life for a few years now. They’re scripted out on a worn back page of one of my first Bibles.

I didn’t grow up in a Christian home but my first exposure to a Bible was rather young.  A stranger gave me a little pocket King James during some kind of after-school outreach.  I had no idea what to do with a Bible and to me, it was just another book.  I loved to read though and so I thought I’d give it a try.  It was a simple as that.  I opened up my mini KJV to page one and read,”In the beginning…”  I furrowed my brow, “Well duh!” It seemed pretty redundant to say that the beginning of the book was the beginning. I worried that this book would turn out to be lame but Christ gently promoted me onward.

Now, I have a whole new appreciation for scripture and when I thought of a good place to store a list of my most pivotal life moments I could think of no place more precious than the back of my Bible. Something about it just felt safe. Besides that, this was never a list I wanted my parents to see and I was already in the habit of hiding this Bible at all costs. It merely seemed practical to worry about hiding as few things as possible.

So I began to list these defining moments.  I scribbled down both the good and the bad because it’s both which define the person we stand out to be…

The date I was first raped

The date I was first sold for sex

The date I came to know Christ personally

The date I felt a call to ministry

The date I graduated high school

The date I escaped

The date I was baptized

The date I first entered a courtroom

I could make it a point to practice daily gratitude and write out all the thing’s I’m thankful for. I could continue to make me list of defining moments, but the real key comes when these two lists are one in the same.  If I reach a point in life where I can genuinely  say that I’m thankful for every defining moment I write down (good and bad) that at that point I’ve won.  I’ve won freedom and joy.

May this blog serve as an education to those who do not yet know or understand the atrocities of trafficking and may it serve as an encouragement to those who understand it all too well.

Stubbed My Toe on a Compliment

Shoot! Again?! I have this uncanny ability to run my appendages into stationary objects… toes into coffee tables, shoulders into corners, fingers into countertops.  This is the sort of thing that love ones tell you is “charming” or “entertaining.”  I however, choose to look at it as annoying.  But of course I do, because how often do we throw back into the sea a metaphoric fish that was meant to feed and nurture us?

   Friend: “Wow, don’t you look lovely this evening!”

   You: “Nah, I just threw this dress on and I really should loose more weight.”

   Spouse: “You’re going to get that promotion for sure – you’ve been working so hard!”

   You: “Nah, it’s a tough race.  I don’t have as much experience as the others, we’ll see.”

   Coworker: “You’re really helped me out the other day– you’re such a good listener.”

   You: “Nah, you would have done the same for me.”

Why on earth is it so hard for us – ahem, for me – to say THANK YOU?

To say “thank you”, to accept a compliment, is to agree with another person that you have VALUE.  For those with wounded pieces of their past, assigning value to anything can be risky business.  Jewelry gets stolen, houses burn down, pets die, bodies are violated and self-esteem is crushed.  What’s more, as brokenness enters our life we begin to lose trust in our own selves.  If we assign value to an object and it breaks, that’s one thing.  If we assign value to ourselves and WE break (or fail), that’s a whole higher level of disappointment.  Condemnation enters the mind of a broken heart and sounds much like this:

I hate these statements.  Each of them has taken turns latching their gnarly claws into my heart.  NO MORE!  These are the lies that cause broken people to deflect compliments like oncoming grenades.  I must become OK with a little friendly fire because the hits really aren’t as bad as grenades; it’s more like stubbing a toe.  I have to learn to stub my toe with a smile.  I have to learn to just say “thank you” to the compliments.  I have to learn to reassign the value to myself that was once taken from me.  I have to be OK with me.

May this blog serve as an education to those who do not yet know or understand the atrocities of trafficking and may it serve as an encouragement to those who understand it all too well.

He Gave Me Glasses

When you’re a sick kid, you just want your mom.   You want someone to bring you a cool washcloth and warm tea.  Someone who knows the importance of chicken soup, a good movie and a lovely touch to your hair that simply says “it’s all going to be OK.”

It’s easy to think of the main loss to a trafficking victim as something sexual– maybe her sexual purity.   Reality is, survivors loose so much more than that – they lose their very childhood…

Birthday parties, sleep-overs, passing notes to the cute boy in class, running for Senior Vice President, and family holiday traditions like picking out a Christmas tree are all missed.  Labor Day BBQs, Happy Meals and picking out a outfit for the first day of school with mom and having dad comment that the shirt is too tight– all these things are missed.  The earlier she is trafficked, the more years of “normalcy” she will have to mourn later.  When a young girl enters a trafficking situation it is literally like every bit of who she was before is wiped away.  She is given a new name and her wardrobes is overhauled into something that’s supposed to be sexy. Instead of popping a morning Flintstone vitamin she now pops a painkiller or two.  Everything that once was is now gone and everything that society would deem as typical is destroyed.

This girl now has a completely new lens to view life through.  Regardless of whether she gets out of her trafficking situation or not, she will always have that lens of horrific experience with her.  This lens will be a constant fight from the moment it’s formed.  It tells survivors– well, it tells me, that I’m an object to be owned and only of value when exploited.  This lens tells me that even well-intentioned people cannot be trusted.  This lens is like the opposite of rose colored glasses because it turns even an eternal optimist into a scared skeptic.  Have you ever seen a stray dog? A scraggly, grey K-9 who growls itself into a fearful corner?  That’s what this lens does to a “normal” girl.  It turns her into feeling like a threatened dog who’s been beat too many times and won’t think twice about biting the hand that comes in between her and her food.

My trafficker was a thief who stole from me and left me with a diseased gift.  You lose a childhood and you gain a tainted lens, that’s how it goes.

If a girl is fortunate enough, like I was, to get out of “the life” than her new struggle is to manage this lens.  I have to figure out a way to peal of the mask of a mangy mutt and move out of the corner.  I can’t let it get the better of me.  I know I’ll always live with shades of my past but I am learning how to diminish the effect.   As much as I hate it, counseling helps.  As much as I resist it, healthy community helps.  I fight daily to not dwell on what was lost but instead to focus on what I can make new today.  Today is a new day and today has all the potential in the world of being a good day.

May this blog serve as an education to those who do not yet know or understand the atrocities of trafficking and may it serve as encouragement to those who understand it all too well.

October 14th – My Independence Day

I had known for a while that’d I’d have to move.  I was in the process of trying to get out of my trafficking situation and it was becoming next to impossible to do while staying in the same city as my abuser.  I had begun to file police reports and make changes in my life as my traffickers were growing more aggressive.  I was in fear for my life in a very literal way and the day had come where I had no other option but to leave.  It was either 1) kill myself 2) wait to be killed or 3) leave.  So I chose to leave…

I hated it.  I had lived through hell and dramatic moments for years but this was an all new kind of torture.  I had just begun to develop good, strong friendships and was experimenting with the idea of loving someone, but I had to leave.  It all happened so quickly too; I didn’t even have time to think over all the details.  One moment I was calling the cops, another I was packing, the next I was gone. Some of the friends I cherished the most never even knew I was leaving.  I just disappeared– gone like a ghost that left behind a virus of rumors.  It was safer just to disappear.  Most of the people I knew didn’t have much of an idea about my double life, so there was no need to tell them now and bring extra people into my troubles.  It broke my heart though not to be honest.

My story felt like a bad Lifetime movie… one too drama and cheesy to be true.  I remember “my guy” following me out of town because he couldn’t stand not giving me one last kiss goodbye.  It was sappy romance that lit my heart and made it all the harder for me to run.  He was my first good (well at least semi-good) guy.  I think we thought that we were in love.  Maybe we were… but the move ruined us.

That was one of those moments where I allowed myself to say, “This isn’t fair!”  I was the victim in this situation and yet I had been treated like a criminal time and time again.  I was the victim but I was the one who had to pick up and leave everything I’d ever known just for the sake of safety.  It just wasn’t fair because in order to start over, I again had to give up everything I knew.  As horrible as it was though, it was this break that allowed hope to grow.

Just a few years ago today, I found real freedom for the first time.  With much help, I landed myself in a completely new environment.  I was terrified and had only $30 left to be used to start a new life with a new identity.  But it happened.  By the grace of God only did it happen.

Call me a cheesy but I’d promised myself for years that I’d play this song if I ever “got out”… I got to play it for myself on October 14th that year.

May this blog serve as an education to those who do not yet know or understand the atrocities of trafficking and may it serve as encouragement to those who understand it all too well.

40 Confessions of a Trafficking Survivor

The Confession by Pietro Longhi

  1. It’s not that I thought I’d have a hard time making it to age 18, I just assumed I never would
  2. I think about going back to “the life” because I feel like, at least there, people understand me
  3. I feel unlovable
  4. One time or another I had to trade sex for survival (ie. food, rides out of life threatening situations)
  5. There were moments when I enjoyed having power over men… naïve because it was power that I quickly lost each time
  6. There’s not a single day where something doesn’t remind me of my trafficking situation: a car, a smell, a name
  7. When men look at me lustfully I wonder if they’ve seen pictures of me on the internet
  8. It’s rare that I feel safe
  9. I am in mourning over my childhood – I desperately wish that I could act like a kid again but I’ll smack you if you treat me like a one
  10. I have a deep need to be heard
  11. Some days the road to healing doesn’t feel worth it… it’s just too hard
  12. I don’t want anything bad to happen to my traffickers but…
  13. I wouldn’t mind hearing that they had died
  14. I don’t fully trust anyone, especially myself
  15. Exhaustion is a daily battle
  16. It feels as though anyone who looks at me immediately knows…well, everything
  17. I feel shamed
  18. Just at the moment I begin to feel whole, I start to feel like I’m going crazy
  19. I usually don’t know what I want or know what I need
  20. I’d never want to let you know it because I try to act tough, but I can be pretty sensitive
  21. Pushing someone away is a lot easier than watching them leave
  22. I assume you’re going to leave
  23. I assume you’re going to hurt me
  24. Death doesn’t scare me– for several reasons
  25. There was a time when I really believed that my traffickers loved me and I loved them
  26. I often feel stupid and incapable
  27. Sometimes I miss the ease of being mean
  28. During my trafficking situation I abused any substance I could get my hands on – the only way I knew to survive was to become numb
  29. I never thought that anyone would believe my story
  30. For years, I lived in fear for my life
  31. People have been very cruel and judgmental
  32. To the “Johns” no, I did NOT like it, it wasn’t good, you’re not the biggest I have ever seen, I did not choose this life, I’m not thankful for the extra tip, and I really, really do not want to call you Daddy
  33. My “freedom” was expensive
  34. I’m scared that I’ll waste this second chance of life I’ve been given
  35. I would be nothing without grace
  36. I owe much of my freedom today to people speaking truth and love into my world
  37. Choosing to fight for joy is unimaginably hard, but a fight I’ve chosen
  38. I secretly hope to have a “normal” life someday
  39. Though I may not always let them know it, I love the people now in my life
  40. I’m blown away at how blessed I am today
*Please note that these are just confessions of my own.  Every survivor’s situation and path of recovery is different.
May this blog serve as an education to those who do not yet know or understand the atrocities of trafficking and may it serve as encouragement to those who understand it all too well.
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$%^&*@! Mornings

A glimpse into what my typical morning used to be in the midst of my trafficking situation:

Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! SLAP! Groan…  $%^&*@! 

I hate alarm clocks.  I hate alarm clocks.  It’s 5:30 am and I didn’t get back from the John’s house until near 3:00 that morning.  The hours in between just aren’t nearly enough to allow for adequate cerebral function. $%^&*@! School starts at 7:00 am.  Yes, school… I am living a life of forced prostitution and I still go to school.  I slide out of bed, eyes still closed and trip over last night’s heels.  I take a quick look in the mirror hoping that my face won’t take too much repair. $%^&*@! There’s a bruise on my neck… that’s at least an extra 5 minutes of makeup application.  I’d taken a shower as soon as I got back last night but I can still feel that sticky creep on my skin.  Besides, my hair smells like cigarettes from the drive home… can’t have that walking into honor’s English.

The shower water stings through new cuts and washes away old grime.  I feverishly brush my teeth and grab an open bottle of beer to rise. $%^&*@, that’s gross… but I take another swig anyway to help swallow a handful of pills.  I need to be numb.  Now, what to wear?  I’m not worried as much about fashion as I am about sleeves that won’t catch on my rough and healing cuts.  I grab blue eyeliner as well… it helps mask the fatigue in my eyes.  I trade out last night’s mini skirt for a pair of wide leg jeans and take one last look in the mirror before– $%^&*@!  There’s a bruise showing on my lower back when my shirt moves.  Wardrobe change… I’m never going to make it to a single first period this semester, am I?  My stomach growls loudly and I realize I must be hungry.  I snag some peanuts out of my secret food stash. 6:52 am now…

Splash! Gasp!  A freezing class of water is thrown in my face.  “What the $%^&*@ are you still doing here?!”

“I’m going!” I retort and then catch myself.  I change my tone to something much meeker as a hand draws back in my direction, “I’m sorry, I’m going.”

“Make sure you come straight home – you’ve got work to do today.  You never do anything for this family!  You’re nothing but a…” I tune out the rest because it’s always the same speech anyway.  I’m worthless, I’m dirty, I’ve got a guy I have to see tonight…

My lips whisper a quick prayer while rushing outside. God, please help me.  Be my sanctuary.

$%^&*@! There’s no gas.  I’m never going to make it to school in this death trap unless I’m pushing it.  I consider just walking but then remember the threat to get home quickly today after classes.  The John must have to get me in before his wife gets home.  I sigh and start digging for change.  $3.15 found.  Good, that should be enough to get me there.  Now I just have to finish some homework.  I should really come with a “Kids, don’t try this at home” label… Driving with my left hand, I copy down a few definitions from my Science textbook with my right.  7:15 now. $%^&*@!

By the time I sneak onto campus it’s halfway through first period.  There’s no sense walking in now and the painkillers I took earlier have finally kicked it.  I ride out the next hour in a yellowed bathroom stall, dreaming of traveling to some far corner of the earth.

Beep! Beep! Beep! That’s the second alarm of my day.  End of first period.  I make my way to the class I just missed where my teacher greets me with a sad smile and a note about today’s assignment.  “So sorry Ms. B…”

“I know, I know, you tried.  I’m not going to keep covering for you if you won’t tell me what’s going on.”

$%^&*@!

“I’m fine Ms. B, thanks.  Just overslept because of the medicine I’m on.  I’m sorry – thanks!”  I force a bright smile her direction and run off to make my second period class.  Another wave of exhaustion hits and I grab a few stolen coffee beans from my pocket to snack on.  Let the day of lies begin…

May this blog serve as education to those who do not yet know or understand the atrocities of trafficking and may it serve as encouragement to those who understand it all too well.

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