what could I do for her?
who was I to sit there and say anything to this young woman? I had no clue what she has gone through in life, her circumstances, or her story. All I could do was sit and listen. That is all I could offer in that moment. She said that being able to talk about it freely made her feel a little better. On the other hand, she did so much more for me. She allowed me to listen, took me out of my bubble and gave me a peak into her world.
She began to tell me a fraction of her story… “He raped me raw and I just wonder, why me?”
What could I say to that? I’ve never felt so inadequate and helpless. I felt powerless because what my agency or I could offer may not be enough.
“It is not that easy,” she said.
About 80% of women in prostitution have been victims of rape yet one of the questions asked when I shared this story was, “can prostitutes be raped?”
The question didn’t surprise me but it re-affirmed the lack of understanding of rape in our society.
When a woman says “no,” it means no – it doesn’t matter if she prostitutes or not. One out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. In comparison, prostituted women are raped, on the average, eight to ten times per year.
Prostitution happens all around. It is happening in our streets, in our neighborhoods. Girls, boys, women and men are being prostituted in our backyards. We do not try to understand the circumstances, what brought them to that point, or how they were recruited. Instead, we judge, we question, we doubt and dismiss them. We say things like, she wants to be a prostitute or Why doesn’t she just get out?
Do we really think these young girls and boys wake up one day and say, “I want to sale my body for money.”
This doesn’t just happen. There is a process that leads someone to the streets.
Most kids who end up on the streets have suffered some type of abuse or neglect from home, or foster home. Many are runaways and this helps set them up.
Most are seduced by pimps who offer them a “better life.” Pimps look for children with low self-esteem, in need of attention, and those who seek love. The pimp will offer everything the child is lacking. The pimp becomes the boyfriend, will get her to fall in love and convince her to work the streets.
I can only imagine what the young woman’s life I met at the hospital must be like. I have no clue how she feels or what she has experienced in her short life. I wonder what happened to her. I think of my niece and nephews. That young woman is someone’s daughter, someone’s niece, someone’s sister and granddaughter. I wonder when and how everything change for her. I will never know but can only hope things will one day change for her and for all the others who are on the streets. I thank her for allowing to be there and for sharing a piece of her life with me- a complete stranger. She took me out my bubble and reminded me that there’s so much more I need to learn.
I encourage you to learn more about this issue. The following is an excellent documentary where I got a lot of the information posted on this column. It is by the anti-sex trafficking organization Shared Hope International. It brings awareness about the demand factors for sex trafficking, one of the most significant of which is pornography. It also addresses how all forms of commercial sexual exploitation such as pornography; stripping and prostitution are connected to all other forms such as sex trafficking and sex slavery.
45 minutes worth watching.
If you rather read, here’s an excellent article