In 2011, I wholeheartedly committed to do my part to end the very real and present danger to the young boys and girls of the world today. As a survivor of sex trafficking myself, I felt as though I was being called to give these young people the love, support and strength that I so desperately needed when I was 14. Thus far, the experience has been very fulfilling as well as heartbreaking, if that makes any sense at all. I cannot begin to explain what it does to my heart when I see true gratitude and appreciation in the eyes of those I am ministering to.
Once or twice a month, myself and a handful of other volunteers pack a bus and head for neighborhoods that others would give anything to get out of. You see, we have a mission. Our mission is to bring light, hope and healing to our sexually-exploited youth: those that have been forgotten, abandoned, beaten, raped and at times, murdered. And while I have been taking part in this for almost 2 years now, and doing my best to educate everyone that I come in contact with, people still don't get it. The myth still exists that these young people have chosen this lifestyle -- the myth that if it wasn't their choice, they would just leave. Today, I am writing in the hopes that we can dispel that myth. Because the truth is that many of them have been made to believe that it is all they are worth. They have been so completely broken down that their exploiters are often the only ones they trust -- the only voice that they believe.
When I was 14 years old, the last thing that I wanted to be was sold. Yet that is exactly what ended up happening. With a childhood riddled with sexual abuse, a mother who was unavailable and a lot of free time on my hands it only took a portrayal of concern for my wellbeing to peek my interest. While hanging out alone in downtown Reno one night, a man approached me. We began to converse and by the end of the night, he knew everything about me. I had unknowingly fed him all of the information necessary to manipulate me into doing exactly what he wanted. I had no idea this man was a pimp. I was 14!
When he told me he was leaving to go home to Oakland, California, I asked if I could go with him. He picked me up the next day across the street from my school during lunch period. There were two women in the car with him. While my head was screaming that there was something very wrong and I needed to get out of the car, my body wouldn't obey. I had no idea how to say no. No idea how to stop this ball from rolling. The moment we got into Oakland, he took me to his mothers' house and the women began finding clothes and shoes that fit me. By the end of the evening, I was highly intoxicated and had been sold to three men. After a month of living in fear and countless hours of what I can only call rape, I took the risk of being beaten beyond recognition and found my way to a pay phone where I called my mother. For many, calling family is not an option. They may be foster children or considered (a term that angers me to no end), "throw away kids." Even worse, they could be being exploited by their families -- the very people who are supposed to protect, love and nurture them. The idea of choice in these and similar situations is laughable. These children need people to step up and rescue them, not judge them.
Please join me in the fight to end the exploitation of our youth. I am the Director of Community Outreach for Love Never Fails which is based in the Bay Area of California. We are committed to the rehabilitation, education and protection of our youth. Please visit here.