The parent or parents of a sexually trafficked and addicted individual typically take one of two paths. Either the parent decides to throw their child out of the house due to all the addiction behaviours and traumatic experiences or they try to co-dependently rescue them. My mum became the rescuer. For seven years she tried to move me place to place to try to get help. She used all the money she could find to help me. Even a 100,000 dollar car accident lawsuit payout. We lost friends and family. My mum became exhausted and lost all hope.
The violence and fear resulting from those years was overwhelming. The never giving up became painful and exhausting. The stress intensified physical pain from my mum’s past and brought up all of her issues: eating disorder, childhood trauma, etc. Super Mom was forced to let go eventually. If she chose to hold on, she would have died trying, because you can not rescue someone who is not ready to be rescued. They can’t hear you or see anything you’re trying to do as being the right thing because their brain is totally consumed by the trafficker that they are convinced you are wrong. Most times we’re completely brainwashed by our trafficker. It’s a helluva journey, and sadly not many make it out.
The resources are minimal and are mostly outpatient. There are very few residential homes with a fully-encompassed trauma-recovery model, and yet there are so many victims. My mum’s 6-7 years around my lifestyle, receiving phone calls from me constantly – screaming, freaking out, beaten and bruised over and over – it was all so stressful for her. Her energy got really low. There was nowhere to really turn. She tried, we all tried, my dad even tried for a period of time. Nothing seemed to work, no matter how many times we tried. Finally, with our last cry for help, we found SafeHope Home… an opportunity to heal after years of searching and coming up empty-handed.
During my years in the sex industry, I lost many friends. Those who haven’t experienced this type of lifestyle don’t understand the signs, even when they’re right in front of their eyes. Girl friends whom I’d had since elementary school took it as rejection when I slowly began to distance myself from them. I ended up never speaking to some girls again because of the distance that grew between us. They never even found out why I’d become so distant. It’s so awkward to message old friends trying to explain what happened, so I just never did it, and I lost touch with many, many people because of that.
Even girls I ended up meeting in strip clubs only wanted to be friends with me for a little while. Once they saw the spiral of addiction and abuse in my life, they tried to help me out and when I rejected their help they removed themselves from my life. It makes sense. Women who work in strip clubs are so used to seeing girls coming through beaten and not wanting help. It’s almost normal when you’re in that lifestyle. It’s really sad, but it’s the truth. You don’t get out of that lifestyle until you want to get out more than you want love or validation from those around you, more than you want your trafficker. You have to choose to love yourself first, you have to decide you’re worth it and that’s not easy when you have literally zero self-esteem or sense of self-worth left.
My mum has now seen me put in a year of hard work. In a recovery program without drinking or doing drugs, learning what healthy relationships are, doing therapy and working through traumas, building trust where I once only had paranoia. She has seen me doing university courses and writing these blogs and spending time with my son. As my mum sees me doing well and accomplishing things, it has begun to ease the burden and trauma she feels from the past as well. She’s learning to heal, too. It’s a long journey. But we’re getting there.
I often wonder how much DNA, family situations, and childhood trauma has to do with those who become trafficked… because every girl I know who has been trafficked has had a dysfunctional childhood, addiction issues at quite an early age, and lots have been through the foster care system. Maybe we need to start at the root of the cause. Start with addiction and dysfunctional families and children being neglected or ripped away from their family and placed in foster homes where there is abuse and traumatic experiences, and where they end up accumulating criminal records as juvenile delinquents out of opposition to the life they are given. Just like the history of residential schools with the Indigenous where children were ripped from their parents, thus resulting in generational trauma and addiction issues. We have to look at the root cause to resolve anything.
Recovery is exhausting, and it’s a daily battle. I think what keeps me going is the new family and friends I now have because of SafeHope Home. The girls who were participants at the same time I was have become sisters to me now, I talk to them frequently and I love them so much. The staff at SafeHope Home have become literally a family for me, which takes such a load off of my real parents’ shoulders. Now I have a whole group of people behind me to turn to whenever I hit a bump in the road. Not only that but whenever I experience high-intensity situations, when my anxiety escalates or my depression starts to surface, I just call my therapist and she literally always talks me down.
It’s an entire system that works toward recovery from trauma of any kind. Not just therapy and healing past trauma. Not simply rebuilding self-esteem and trust. Not only building healthy relationships or looking toward the future. There is so much that goes into it, and it’s a daily battle. As soon as you stop fighting, it’s easy to slip back into old patterns, leaving yourself in a vulnerable spot. I’ve been in a couple occasions when something intense happened and I thought briefly ‘it would be so easy to just go grab a beer from the store and chug it right now to get rid of these feelings’ but then I remind myself where that leads and tell those thoughts to exit my brain immediately because I’m worth more, and I’m done giving in to the negativity that wants us to believe we’re worth less.