When we think of abuse in a relationship, the majority of us will first picture physical abuse. But the truth is, emotional abuse and psychological manipulation often leave a more devastating impact on its victims because it fills the mind with self-doubt. And while it can affect any of us regardless of social or financial status, a lot of times, it happens to the most vulnerable. Here is a story from one of our youths about her experience being manipulated into prostitution and her reflection on the experience from where she is now.
"It has been over a year since I was trafficked into the sex trade.
It has also taken me over a year to shake the guilt and embarrassment I’ve felt over the situation and although it still creeps into my mind from time to time, I’ve come to a point where I am able to have compassion for myself when thinking about how I was exploited. Without self-compassion, I would not be able to write about my experience without the internally shame.
I was 16 when I met my soon-to-be pimp in a homeless shelter. He also happened to be one of the first guys I had ever met to show interest in me. This made it easy for me to turn a blind eye to the red flags around me which warned me of his true intentions. As our relationship progressed, he began asking me whether I had ever considered prostitution. Whenever I told him he was crazy for asking a girl like ME a question like THAT, he brushed it off as a joke. But it wasn’t.
After night in a hotel room with his friends, he made the decision for me. He had mentally trapped me and although I was never physically held against my will, I was his slave. He decided that I would pay for a hotel room, work as an escort – and he would take the profits. It was like being under a spell, as though nothing around me was real. Except that it was.
But what happened when I no longer brought in any profits for him? He would stop talking to me. And THIS is what pushed me over the edge. Because I thought I was in love with him. It was in a moment of haste that I decided to tell the police what had happened to me and although it was told out of anger and sadness at the time, I had, in that moment, taken the first steps to regaining my life.
I am positive that there was a seed of doubt in me that what had happened wasn’t right. And as time goes by, this seed gets bigger and bigger. It was his choice to take advantage of me, and if it wasn’t me it would have been someone else. Today I am a stronger person than I ever was before, who has a world of opportunity ahead of them, while he keeps closing doors behind him. I would never trade my experience for something else, as it taught me life lessons that I would not have learned otherwise, as adversity always does. And I’m grateful for this."