From Prom Queen to Victim of Sexual Trafficking

I was appalled to learn the statistics about sexual trafficking, in the following Facebook post. (Please take the time to read it before continuing.)

I didn’t realize until after reading this post, at age 68, that I was once actually trafficked, at the age of 17. After being sexually abused since age 12, by my first step-father, my self-esteem had been all but destroyed by false guilt. And, even though I had pushed myself into becoming an A student, National Honor Society member, and having been voted junior class prom queen, I felt totally worthless. So, when a 30 year old man began to show attention to me, even after I told him my age, it made me feel very special, and in a way, powerful.

It turned out that the man was married, but, he used the excuse that he and his wife no longer loved each other, and that he only remained in the lifeless marriage to protect his young son, a toddler, because his wife had a habit of regularly leaving the child in his high chair, unattended. And, according to this predator, in custody battles of those days, mothers rarely lost. Boy, was I ever stupid! But, I didn’t feel stupid. Instead, having to meet in secret only added the allure of a strange and powerful excitement.

For weeks, the summer after I had graduated from high school, in rural Indiana, this man and I met on dark country roads, just outside of town. One night, he even took me to a shady tavern, on a back country road, where no ID’s were needed. I felt so grown up and independent! The allure of life in the dark was literally, and figuratively, intoxicating! And, our long conversations, and raw sexual encounters under the stars, made me feel so important, so desirable, and so special. Here was a grown man, seemingly entranced by me, a shy, lonely teenager.

One day, he suggested that we make plans to get a motel room, in broad daylight, across the river, in the next state. Wow! I felt so mature! So, a few days later, I drove to a pre-arranged meeting place, and hopped into his car. We drove across the bridge, from Indiana to Kentucky, with the sun shining, and the car radio blaring. But, unbeknownst to me, when we got to the motel, this predator had another man, who was probably in his 50’s, waiting inside the room. Realizing that this was pre-planned between the two of them, I was immediately frightened. Being outnumbered, and feeling trapped, I was terrified to resist and say, “No.” No one knew where I was. And, if I had tried to back out, I feared that, to protect themselves, these two grown men could, and would, make me just disappear. As drinks were poured, and the small talk progressed, I felt compelled to do whatever they wanted. I remember feelings of fear, revulsion, and humiliation, as music played in the background. And I remember the long, silent ride back to my car, with the stifling summer breeze blowing in through the passenger window, my long hair whipping across my tear-stained cheeks, and my throat and stomach burning from too much whiskey.

After that day, full of fear and self-disgust, I put an end that relationship. Unfortunately, it was not going to be the end of my self-destructive behaviors. But, those stories are for another time.

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