Often trying to assist victims of trafficking and other dangerous crimes, we find they don’t always see how serious the harm. For them it is something they just always had to tolerate in order to survive, so as a result by the time they are older teens or adults, they might not even feel it was an actual crime. I know because it happened to me.
The first time he took me out to another location I was about 10 years old and it was a tugboat down around the Baldwin Illinois area. He used to take me with him quite often, something I couldn’t refuse without punishment and something my mother never questioned regardless of what condition I returned home. He picked up a 12pack of Pabst and we took off driving, him feeding me all but three of the beers which he drank. Needless to say I was wasted. I don’t remember everything, but I sadly remember all the hands, the touching, groping, and oral sex I was made to perform on at least one of the men. They lit up a joint and took full advantage of having the intoxicated little girl to play with for their (and his) amusement.
Next it was the bar where my mother worked & all the local coal miners hung out. I was 11 years old when my stepfather involved me in very public exploitative measures so men would buy him beer and he could watch as they all flirted and played with me. He offered the one young man time alone with me outside, thankfully the guy responded ‘She’s just a kid’. However it set off a rage of fury when we immediately left and I was beaten in the car because ‘You’re just too ugly, that’s why nobody wants to be with you.’ My head was bashed against the window a few times, on the dashboard, and his hands clenched around my throat.
Surprisingly my mother came walking up and pulled me out of the car. She didn’t ask why I was crying, or what had happened; she simply hustled me home angry and screaming at me for getting drunk. It was all my fault those men wanted to do things and Malcolm was beating the crap out of me.
This was just the beginning of what would be the next five years of private parties initiated by him with neighborhood boys, schoolmates, and grown men who came to our house on late Friday night. It was all so ‘normal’ for me. It’s what I had been beaten into tolerating and no one was doing anything to stop it. The boys and men always laughed and enjoyed it, my mother stayed in her bedroom and watched tv or she took off for the weekend and left me there.
In all honesty, I had never considered myself a ‘trafficked child’. I didn’t understand how everything that happened and all the ways that I was used, manipulated, and forced into these situations created such a mess and it trained my behavior to be exactly what he wanted; his own personal little prostitute. Sadly by the time I was around 13, that is exactly what the community talked about when they saw me.
How in the world was I supposed to understand exactly how wrong it was when no one was doing anything about it?
The community members whispered about it and how I messed around with their husbands, boyfriends, and sons. They whispered about the filth that covered my body, the body odor, the infected sores, and how I rarely ever had time allowed out of the house because there was always something I had to take care of, or there might be something or someone who needed me to do something. I was the girl their daughters could not hang out with and the girl their sons were never allowed to date. I’ll never forget how it felt growing up in the center of that small Illinois town while neighbors, family friends, teachers, and classmates all made fun of me and shamed me, but not a single person ever tried to help me. In the end the only way I knew how to get through a day without being beaten was to do whatever was ordered, whenever it was ordered, and with whomever was next in line.
It wasn’t until after I started really focusing on coping through my Complex PTSD, and the debilitating injuries from all the physical trauma which existed for some 20 years in my adult relationships. I couldn’t figure out what it was about me, why did all of this stuff happen and why didn’t anyone seem to care? This is when I began writing ‘My Justice’; hoping to put all my pieces back together and help my kids understand that their screwed up ideas about relationships had resulted from how I had been so well trained to tolerate extreme harm and never believe that I deserved anything different. I was almost 50 years old before I was able to connect the dots of trauma, to my lasting wounds today. It was after the book was published and I took a training seminar on trafficking before I realized ‘OMG, that was me’.
Helping victims of Family Crimes, whether it be extreme physical violence, sexual harm, or perhaps even trafficking; these persons do not always understand that they were victims at all. To them, to me, it was just survival. I had to do whatever was demanded and I developed survival coping skills in that horror. This is what happens when we dismiss the possibility or even witnessed exploitation or direct harm of a child.
In trying to help someone cope today, we must have compassion for the emotional instability, remember they are just beginning to realize exactly how much evil they had to endure just to survive. Almost all of the adult & teen prostitutes today, first became victims as a young child. To them their body is nothing more than a sexual object, one built to satisfy others and to endure whatever they might inflict.
Helping victims of Family Related Offenders is a difficult situation because we teach them quite young to be quiet, stop crying about it, it’s nothing, it’s because you did something, it’s because we need the financial help, it’s because we need a roof over our head, it’s your burden to carry those very ugly secrets and never tell anyone about what happens here.
How many more victims of trafficking, grievous injury, emotional trauma, and lasting mental health challenges will our human society continue to raise as we turn our backs and pretend nothing happened, or convince ourselves that it’s not our problem. If you know about a family or person in harm’s way, then it just became your problem. If you don’t get that person help, who will? It’s time to stop raising Victims & Offenders, it’s time to initiate intervention and community involvement to stop ALL crime, even the generational teaching of tolerance about crime inside our family.
Keep in mind that it’s not just the children who are forced or manipulated into multiple sexual interactions or forced to stay quiet as they are beaten beyond recognition. These actions against persons inside our homes affects all races, genders, and most importantly ALL AGES. There are no boundaries when it comes to inflicting harm on those who do not understand or are not able to defend themselves.
We must defend a persons right to be protected regardless of who they are or where they live. Home doesn’t have to be perfect, but it absolutely must be SAFE. To provide any change is going to take a strong united human effort. Ending the harm inside our families, means that we give our children a better, safer world to flourish in their dreams and achievements. Teaching that all beings deserve safety, that we have worldwide laws & constitutional laws defending our right to be safe. This should be taught in every basic history class across the country.
Give a child the gift of freedom without the fear of grievous harm, especially inside their home.
Using information & resources shared on www.butterflydreamsabuserecovery is just one possible source of help. There are resources around the world to aid in this recovery process and life skills development for healthy parenting. If you or someone you know is in distress or being harmed, please research available resources in your area.
Thanks & be a blessing to those in your life’s path
Author: ‘My Justice’
Butterfly Dreams Abuse Recovery & Talk Radio Network
Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Specialist
Family Violence Speaker & Educator
Family Crimes and Terroristic Abuse Act – ‘Trecia’s Law’