Going Public

There’s a diacodmy I live with… I don’t ever want anyone to know what’s happened to me and yet I want everyone to know.

I want to keep my trafficking experience to myself because (whether it’s right of not) the situation is incredibly shaming. After they know, people look at you differently.  It’s not their fault, it’s only natural.  For some it’s blatant awkwardness and fear.  They wont make eye contact with you and never speak for fear of saying the wrong thing.  For others, your relationship is now based soley on voyerestic questions that feed their curiosity about this foreign environment.  Then there’s what I like to call the “hugger”… this person is typically a well-meaning, good hearted women who takes great pity on you and just can’t help but invade your person space with a “mamma’s here” hug.  I don’t mind the sentiment, but I hate pity and I’m not particularly (understatement) fond of hugs from strangers.  “You’re in my space; you’re invading my bubble.” is a phrase my friends commonly here from me… though with them, it’s usually just in jest at least.

It’s hard to have people know what’s happened to me.  It may not be true at all, but I feel judged by people who know.  I can feel their unanswered questions about my past and stability tint the tone of every conversation.  My relationships with people who know that I am a trafficking survivor are most certainly colored… for better or for worse.  I’d love to hide and pretend like I’m as normal of a girl as the rest, but it’s simply just not the case.

On the other hand though, I want everyone possible to know my story.  You see, I’m a big believer in advocacy work because as much as my circle of friends get that modern day slavery of American girls on American soil exists, most of the country still has no idea.  People begin to realize that trafficking happens in places like Thailand and Moldavia (I’ve got a huge heart for international work by the way) but many don’t see what happens just next door as well.  To me, if I could shout my story from the rooftops so that people would simply “get it”, I would.  The mere uncomfortableness of exposing my past situation is truly well worth helping another victim become a survivor.

Because my desire to evoke positive change and end trafficking is greater than my fear of ridicule, I do share and I do speak up.  I write this blog anonymously because it’s honestly just safer for me.  This blog adds a layer of protection so that I can write about more intimate parts of my journey that I wouldn’t say in public… or honestly just the parts that I wouldn’t have the guts to say out loud at all.

As part of this desire to educate, I recently spoke at an out of area conference dedicated to anti-trafficking efforts.  I had the honor of sharing an overview of my trafficking situation that was integrated into some practical training.  (Thank you to those who sent supportive messages to me on Twitter by the way!)  I didn’t feel like I did as well as I could have but the feedback was very positive and affirming, so thank you God for that.  Emotionally, I felt pretty detached from what I had talked about for several hours afterward.  It wasn’t until much later that evening that I began to struggle with the emotions of the day.  But writing helps.  Feeling proud of myself even though it was hard, helps.

I’m just looking forward to the day where I don’t have to struggle with who knows what.  I’m looking forward to the day where survivor’s aren’t needed to speak at professional conferences because the situations of trafficking are common knowledge and not accepted.  Mostly though tonight, I look forward to sleep because this entire process has left me absolutely exhausted today.

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.

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