Healing Both Sides
When I was a victim of human trafficking, my nickname was “Ghost.” I would disappear. I never stayed in one place or did one thing for too long.
Growing up feeling alienated from children my own age, I began to look for connections with others through drug abuse and sex. Those connections became dangerous relationships with older men. I believed that if I gave that part of myself, it would lead to their love and acceptance of me. I never realized that I was drawing myself closer to others who were just as broken as I was.
In my 17 years as a prostitute, I was beaten, burned, and threatened by men who promised to cut my face open so everyone would know I “belonged” to them and no one would ever want me again. I‘d run away—disappear like a ghost—only to find myself back and caught up in the lifestyle again.
When I had my children taken from me, I was broken. I begged the men running my life to kill me, taunting them to pull the trigger as they pointed guns at my head. But this made them want to be with me even more.
I opened a Bible for the first time in jail. I learned that God is so much bigger than everything that has happened in my life, and more powerful than anyone who has hurt me.
Today, I work with girls who want to get off the street and I run recovery homes for them. I work with churches and ministries that seek to help women who were in my position. If I would have had someone from a church come and pray with me, I wonder how different my life would have been.
Prostitution and human trafficking are not like you see them on TV. No one wakes up and decides this is what they want to be. It begins with needing little favors, such as food for your children or rent for your apartment. It’s years of slowly giving up control of your life.
The pimp, the drug dealer, and the prostitute all feed off “familiar comfort.” Why do they engage in behavior that hurts so many lives? Because to them, it is familiar. They are comfortable in it. They can’t fail at it because they’ve been doing it for so long.
Being around “johns” was easy for me. I had manipulated my mind to think this was normal. The thought of leaving was scary and triggered emotions. I wanted to run back to what I knew.
But like anything I’ve done in life, I’ve improved when I left my comfort zone. My mind was my biggest opponent. It took me years to cry about what I was doing; I was numb to it, convinced that all I would ever be was a prostitute. But I knew my children loved me, and they had forgiven me. I knew God loved me, and He had forgiven me. I thought, why should I not also forgive myself?
The fight to end human trafficking is not against flesh and blood, but rather against the mentality of control. That control allows a man to force a woman to lower her moral standards. It comes in many forms, such as a pimp making a victim sell herself on the street, or a married man who forces his wife to sleep with him when she doesn’t want to. In both situations, control is key.
Even people who have never been part of human trafficking can help cure the mentality of control. The phrase “It is easier to raise strong children than to fix broken men” is never truer than when you teach a boy to respect girls. If a man talks to his son about respecting his mother and the son sees that dad treats her as his equal, he is more likely to respect the women in his life when he is older.
I grew up never knowing what love was from a man; I thought how the pimp spoke to his women was how a man was supposed to speak.
My children and I pray to God for the people who have hurt us. So many of the women that I work with are so angry at their pimps and traffickers, and it destroys them from within. I try to tell them, there was once someone in that person’s life that they loved and trusted, and taught them that this type of behavior was acceptable. They could not control what happened to them, so they grew up trying to control others.
Everyone typically reaches out to the women, because there are ways to spot a victim. But when you look deeper and you find what is broken in the trafficker, you break the chain. That’s how you stop human trafficking—you reach out, heal, and forgive—both sides.
by Kasie Robbins