For those who have faced the difficulties of human trafficking, which takes away ones dignity, self-esteem, and self-worth, we hear you. Her life was snatched of its innocence at a young age and instantly became a roadmap of detours and caution signs. She would eventually encounter men who would cheat on their relationships and leave their vows on someone else’s bedsheets.
Once upon a time she was approached by a wolf and naively told him that she was in need of assistance. She got distracted by his verbal charm and began walking the lonely plank away from purity towards him with her blindfolded thoughts. He made her feel comfortable in his presence, while giving her a false sense of security through his manipulation. The verbal encounter gave him time to better converse with her as he eventually deceived her with words used to lure her into his car.
“What big ears you have!”
“’All the better to hear you with, my child.”
Traffickers, also known as pimps, entice young girls in various ways, such as love, obligation, addiction, physical force, and power to capture and enslave them. She soon learned with obedience to turn to her perpetrator for acceptance and advice, as any abused child would do, because this was what survival felt like. There are many tempters in the woods of life who are charming, quiet, polite, unassuming, and sweet, who pursue little girls — and women — unfortunately. It is these gentle wolves who are the most dangerous ones of all.
“What big eyes you have!”
“All the better to see you with, my dear.”
The realities of life on the streets — in homes, hotels, and cars — include physical and sexual violence, substance abuse, health problems, and humiliation. Her initial mistake was innocently chatting with the wolf, then giving him intimate details in response to his questions. Hungry and feasting for her, he understood what empowerment felt like, to snatch the young and victimize them.
“What large arms you have!”
“All the better to hug you with, my love.”
Her nightmarish fairytale continued and so did the years of being breastfed with the traffickers/pimps words that prostitution was her only economic way off the streets, even though he held all the money and her dreams. Skilled and cunning, he knew how to control her as he spoke the hustler’s lullaby. The effects of this life upon her physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing gave way to temptations of substance abuse, which she used to numb and cope with her fears and the violence.
“What big teeth you have!”
“All the better to eat you with, my darling.”
Sometimes circumstances in life teach us the meaning of ‘down’ before we can learn what ‘up’ feels like. The consequences of being trafficked included depression, anxiety, PTSD, dissociative disorders and suicide. Other long-term effects she experienced were a lowered self-esteem that resulted from a sense of being damaged, a sense of shame from feeling isolated and different, to experiencing nightmares.
“What big legs you have!”
“All the better to run with, my precious.”
Through the years I’ve practiced how to kneel on bended knee, raise my hands in prayer and bow my head while holding on to the assurance that my sister is alive and will walk on the wings of my words and return. I have never wanted the responsibility of writing her eulogy, witnessing her in crime scene chalk or having her lost to the streets forever.
I write for those who have been affected by this life and with the fabric of my emotions, after 28 years, I continue to patiently await my sister’s return.
E. Ellis is a freelance writer that lives in Minneapolis.