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.

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