A Letter From A Survivor

   We have been hearing a lot about human trafficking lately, but it is clear that most of us do not have a clear view on what it really is. When you see a prostitute working the street, this is not automatically a victim of trafficking. Now, I know that I just lost some readings. Still, others of you are cussing me out, and calling me an idiot. However, I am actually a bit of an authority on the subject.
   I am a survivor of the American Sex Market. Until recently, only those extremely close to me had any idea at all what I had lived through. To this day, only one living person knows the whole extent of what happened, and its effects. 
   In talking the others about the American Sex Trade, I have found the most Americans don’t know, or don’t want to know the facts about it at all. Because of this, I have decided to give some of the facts that no one, to my knowledge, has talked about thus far.  I don’t expect you to just believe me at my word however, so after these facts I would share with you my actual experiences.

1. Most of the traffickers in America are, in fact, Americans. 

There are two ways that people become ‘sex slaves’. The first way, of course, the victim gets ‘picked up’ off the street. This is someone who does not know the victim at all. The ‘pick up’ can be a trafficker who would like to use the victim as a ‘product’. A ‘pick up’ is also what happens when a victim is offered a ride, to later find the driver has an idea of sex as a payment. The other way it happens is through the victims family / friends. This can happen in multiple ways. 

Selling: This is when a family or friend sells the victim. It can happen long term, Selling the victim to a trafficker, ‘pimp’, ‘madame’, or individual ‘master’. I want to take a second to note that this does not apply to a mutually agreed upon master-slave arrangement between two or more consenting adults. It can also be individual events. A friend or family member receives money for ‘per hour’ sex with the victim. This can happen just once, but more often once it happens once, it will happen more and more.

Guilt: Friends and family use almost any means to make the victim feel as if they are a burden unless they put themselves out there to make money for the ‘good of the family’.

Enticement: This type of trafficking works only if you can convince the victim that their benefits from the trade are far greater than they actually are. This form generally starts very young. It tends to begin in childhood by rewarding absolute obedience with toys and treats. It also tends to be coupled with one of the previous two ways.

2. Victims of Sex Trafficking in America are not just young women. 

The truth about who becomes a victim by any of these means is simple. The only connecting factor is that someone thought it would be a good idea for them to use this person.

3.Not all sex workers are victims of the trafficking industry.

A lot of people don’t realize that some adults actually choose freely the work in the sex industry. They also don’t understand that Grand Canyon size difference between the two industries because of our fear of sex as a nation. In fact, in most countries where prostitution is legal, the trafficking trade is, for the most part, a non point. In these countries, sex workers have rights, health care, and worker’s benefits, unlike here in America. STD and STI screenings once a month are considered part of the job. And, unlike here in America, they are not afraid to report crime or abuse because of their chosen job.

4. Victims of trafficking can come from all walks of life.

Anyone can become a victim of sex traffickers. There is one difference social economic class gives to the victims. Victims who live in poverty seem to be noticed by those who could help, differently. It tends to be a slower process to help these victims. It seems to be more assumed that they are more likely to return to that life. It also seems to be more assumed that they are more likely to become drug and alcohol addicts. These two assumptions are not at all true; However, they are still accepted as true.

5. Not all Human Trafficking is about sex.

Many think of sex as the end goal of trafficking. The truth is, that is one of many ways some people seek to make a product out of others. Trafficking is essentially a fancy name for slavery. But to help others understand, here is a short list of reasons people are trafficked. Please note, all humans in these categories are being trafficked.

House work
Other work
Mail order Bride/Groom 
Lab Rats

   I was born the youngest child of a couple who married young. My father had a rocky relationship with his mother in his childhood. Despite this, early in his marriage, she had aggressively encouraged him to become an alcoholic, and her drinking buddy. At this point, he had been unaware that she had attempted to prostitute both of his sisters. One ran away, the other, well, we’ll just say her daughter is third generation in the family business. My mother was born with some abnormalities that made child birth a worsening health issue. I was the youngest of four, but the seventh pregnancy in a time when women had to have their husband’s permission to get their tubes tied. I was also the only girl. My birth was far from an easy one. My mother spent three weeks in the hospital due to her following surgery, one week longer then I was there. During my father’s working hours, we were cared for either by my aunt (mother’s sister), or his mother. Much of my father’s income went towards an always growing bar tab. This of course, meant my mother worked to ensure her children had food and clothing. 
  For my first two years, I was physically and mentally trained to become the product my grandmother had always wanted. I heard things like ‘yeah it hurts, but you can’t cry unless you’re asked to’ and ‘I know you want to stop, but what you want isn’t important.’ By three I had taken my first John. My life changed at this point; My mother moved us out and divorced my father after 17 years of abuse. I became afraid to use the restroom in my father’s house during the bi-weekly visits. Worried that she would grab me. This became an issue in my first year of school, however it wasn’t noticed until the second year. That was when the teacher took note of my tendency to hide in small spaces. Once the teacher had become worried about these behaviors enough, she finally approached my mother, who spent most of her time working to keep us fed. 
   For my mother’s part, help came quickly, but as for the state… It wasn’t until they knew the extent of the mental and physical damage, that they started to move quickly to help me. Even then, the courts stated the necessity of my having professional help for my mental state until at least 18, but it wasn’t important enough to ensure that this woman who work four jobs to feed her children, have a way to ensure this help. My entire life I have struggled to view myself as human, slightly important, or even worth the trouble. I have never fully been able to act ‘normal’. The only good thing to come out of this is my view on the world. All life is precious. Who someone is has nothing to do with their skin tone, religion, who they’re attracted to, or what parts or issues their body has.
I write this, not to get sympathy, but in the hopes of helping to spread a deeper understanding.

Emery Draven

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