“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story – those He redeemed from the hand of the foe…” Psalm 107:1
Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story. Sounds simple enough. But if you are a survivor of sex trafficking, then you know that it is not so easy to tell your story. Though “redeemed,” I have spent years not telling my story, for a multitude of reasons.
If you have merely heard of human trafficking or sex slavery, think back to the time when you first heard those words. For most people, it has been only in the past few years.
Until recently, I did not have the word “trafficking” to describe what happened to me.
Several years back as I began my journey to healing, the small handful of Christian counselors and pastors I tried to go to for help did not believe me when I tried to tell them my story. It’s awfully hard to describe surviving a highly organized crime ring who trades in the souls of little boys and girls – who trafficks children for ritualistic sex and the making of hard core child pornography when you don’t have words like “trafficked” or “sex trafficking” or “ritualistic sex abuse” to use.
On top of being unable to express in words what happened to me, I was terrified that my traffickers would find out that I was talking and make good on their threats to end my life. Just barely mentioning anything about it caused a flood of massive fear and kicked in the self-destruct programming they had taught me.
When I did finally muster the courage to ask for help because I was going to die if I didn’t, I was rejected – disbelieved – and written off. Simply put, the Church completely failed me.
At the time, even law enforcement officials publicly opposed the idea that such things could happen and be completely hidden. Whenever news stories came out surrounding the issue, they were immediately rebuffed.
The nightmare taking place behind the scenes in my nice, upper middle class American neighborhood was perpetrated by every kind of person you can think of.
There are truly sex trafficking rings that doctors, teachers, neighbors, housewives, fathers, pastors, police men and every other kind of “normal” person you can think of are sadistically involved in. It is a dark underworld that exists just below the surface in every single city in America.
I learned not to tell my story when I was living in the nightmare, and when I was trying to heal, I learned once again, not to tell my story.
Today, that is changing. If you are reading my blog, then you are among the first people to hear my story.
It has been a long journey. For some reason, God hasn’t given up on me. I’ve literally spent years, fitfully relenting to His pursuit of my heart. I have received much true, deep and lasting healing for the nightmare that swallowed up my life by continuing to seek Him out in the dark, broken places of my heart. Today, I am more free than I could have ever imagined being.
Yet, my journey is not complete, as God has recently begun taking me through new places of healing that I “shelved” long ago, and there are days when I think I will drown in the pain.
Sadly, I have once again found that even though many people are now compassionate towards this issue, few have the strength of heart or the ability to actually walk with survivors in pursuit of healing. It’s one thing to be aware. It is another altogether to dirty your hands and bloody your knees in prayer on behalf of one whose pain is so deep.
While I know that awareness is essential, I want to challenge you to move beyond awareness, because awareness does nothing to change the heart of men willing to trade the souls of their children for power, wealth or position, or to change the heart willing to ravage such sold children for sick personal gratification.
I suppose that’s why I guess it seems right for me to finally tell my story.
I am only one voice. And all I have is my story. It is my desire for my story, minus a lot of specific details, to be woven through this blog as my offering to you, even in the midst of my pain and wandering pursuit of more healing for my broken heart.
It is my prayer that my voice will finally be heard, not only for my benefit but especially for the benefit of my sisters and brothers who are still bound and who have no voice.
Throughout my healing journey, what I have needed is to talk with someone who was real and who wasn’t afraid of my pain and my hardest questions. By sharing some of those here, I hope to find answers together with other survivors as well as to lead those who are trying to help into places of understanding some of the deepest needs that survivors have.
If you are a survivor, I wish I could sit over a cup of coffee with you and share hope together. But since we are relegated to this anonymous cyber-space whatever, it is my hope that you will find a safe place to come- to ponder, to pray, to share and to be challenged to let go.
If you are among those who desire to help trafficking survivors, my hope is for you to glimpse my healing process in a way that will translate somehow, miraculously, into hope and healing for another survivor.