A few years ago I was invited to a luncheon where a woman was speaking about her years of being trafficked in America. She was from an affluent home and was trafficked by her boyfriend and his friends. For years, she held on to this secret. Then her family moved and she was free from him.
I was floored. I knew trafficking existed in other parts of the world, but this woman was telling me that this was happening to her in America.
I left there with my brain spinning and set up a time for a police officer from the trafficking unit to come out and speak to our girls at the high school in my neighborhood. They were all teen moms and, if just looking at statistics, all of them were vulnerable to this disaster.
Then life moved on. I no longer volunteer at that school. Life moved on. I no longer know anyone that’s been trafficked. Life moved on. I no longer think about it. It’s too hard to think about it.
Then my friend Debra starts texting me and telling me about what she and our friend Amanda are doing in Houston with trafficking victims. Two emotions overcame me; proud & nervous. Super proud of my friend for doing something. For stepping up to the plate. For looking at this evil and saying “you won’t keep going on in my city”.
But I was also nervous. What if I started to feel like she feels. What if I started to feel like I should do something too?
I honestly didn’t want to think about it.
So I didn’t.
Then my friend Janet moves back to Austin. She’s already been thinking about it for years and she starts to rub off on me. Now I’m thinking about it more and it’s all Debra & Janet’s fault.
Next thing I know, I’m in a car with six other women, including someone from a local ministry that helps women get out of the industry. She’s driving us around showing us brothels around town. Brothels around my town. Literally, there are brothels that I could ride my bike to, if I had a bike, which I don’t, but they are super close to my house. There are brothels in buildings that look just like that – buildings. There are brothels behind doors that claim to give massages and facials. There are brothels in a neighborhood at the house on the corner.
My world was spinning. As she drove us around she shared stories of girl after girl after girl who was tricked into this lifestyle and now couldn’t leave. Her pimp had too much on her. He owned her. She couldn’t go even if she tried. She can’t call the police, because she doesn’t trust them. She can’t call her parents because she never had parents to start with. She can’t just run because where would she go; and he would find her. He would find her and kill her.
I got out of the car that day and looked at my friend with tears rolling down my face and said “I wish I hadn’t agreed to come today. My life would be so much easier had I never heard and seen what I just did.” I wasn’t lying. I truly wished that I hadn’t gotten in the car that morning.
Now I knew so much. I had seen so much. How could I possibly go on with life after this knowledge had been given to me?
I’m broken. My mind literally thinks of these girls multiple times a day. When I’m home and I drive by a place my thoughts go haywire in my head. The thought of someone’s daughter in there against her will be made to do things that no person should ever have to do makes vomit come up into my mouth.
I’m mad. I’m mad that this is the reality of the world that we live in. I’m pissed that some guy thinks it’s okay to treat a human this way. That some man thinks that he has so much power and control over her that she is literally like a pet to him.
I’m also ready to learn and do something. There is no possible way that I can sleep at night with this on my brain. How could I go through life and act as though this isn’t reality? That this isn’t truly happening in our country, in our cities, in our neighborhoods.
Join me as we learn more about how we can be a part of the solution, together.