Survivor’s Voice: Trafficking Myth Buster

Every month, every week I seem to learn something new or be reminded of something I used to know about sex trafficking. Last week, I was reminded of a very important point by a dear friend of mine, Heidi. I have asked her if she’d be willing to share this perspective with all of you. I am delighted to say that she consented.

But before we learn from Heidi, here is the video that sparked this conversation in the first place, posted by Hosea’s Heart.

Heidi’s Soliloquy:

This is a great video clip and I have to chime in. January is sex trafficking awareness month. Strip Church is a great ministry around the country.

What I appreciated in this video was the acknowledgement that some women choose this industry (especially in our sexualized culture) and do not have pimps. I have worked in a political climate that says no woman chooses prostitution, and we are all victims.

I have to speak to this issue as a survivor. I was in a prestigious college when I got into the sex industry. I had a full scholarship and was not desperate for money. I was a preacher’s kid. I was in complete rebellion against God and knew what I wanted to do was wrong. I was not sexually abused as a child. I was excited by the glamour and the “bad boy.” I chose prostitution.

Of course I didn’t know the violence, rape and trauma that is an inevitable result of this lifestyle. But, I refuse to buy into the current “poor me” mindset that is a part of the movement.

I am a survivor, but that is only a small part of who I am. I am a mother (a military mother at that), a college graduate, a professional, a Jewish believer who is part of a dance ministry, a friend….basically an all around woman.

My life is dedicated to serve the Lord and help lead my sisters out of the industry. I refuse to tell them they are a victim who did not chose this lifestyle.

In my last job, I met too many women who did not have pimps, were not homeless, but chose to post ads on Backpage because they wanted name brand clothes and merchandise.

If we do not talk about the current reality of the sex industry, we damage the whole movement.

I’m going to take this a step further for believers.

The Bible says we are all sinners saved by grace. Guess what? That means we all need forgiveness. I have forgiven my pimp, the father of my children, and can pray for him and his salvation and hope one day he finds peace in God.

I ask service providers and fellow survivors to recognize that everyone has their own unique story. Do not invalidate or negate these stories by saying that no one chooses this lifestyle. It is not true.

This isn’t about shame…it’s about healthy guilt, and acknowledging that I hurt many people in my life….especially my children! Let me own my guilt and stop pushing the politically correct view of trafficking and worrying about what this will do for fundraising!

 My personal processing

Wow. How many voices are we silencing by limiting the view on sex trafficking?

I know that I have been at fault for this. I have fallen into the perspective that no girl or woman ever chooses the life, that they are always a victim of force or coercion by a recruit, pimp or the culture, because–let’s be honest–it’s easy to fight for justice if we see those hurt only as victims with no responsibility for their situation. But the real world is not 100% black and white. A whole lot of grey and purple and yellow exists!

Now, before we suddenly swing the other way, I still believe that a culture that encourages men to view women as objects and not people is still inherently wrong. Accepting the sex industry as it currently is enables sex trafficking to happen out in the open. These remain “black and white,” at least in my book.

But each individual survivor’s story has its own color.

Ultimately, Heidi is dead on. In our fight for justice and wholeness, we cannot ignore the total reality of the sex industry. 

As Christ-followers, we cannot limit our ministry only to those we see as “victims.” The reality is that every woman, girl, boy and man in the sex industry needs Jesus’ love and grace. Every person is worth reaching out to.

Thank you, Heidi, for sharing your wisdom and for convicting and correcting me.