‘You know the monster you are.’ I scrambled across the seat, pulled up the lock. ‘Get back here!’: Teenager escapes sex slavery after nearly being sold to ‘new level of trafficking,’ ‘I just ran’

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Disclaimer: This story includes details of sexual abuse that may be triggering to some.

“Desperation forces good people to do to terrible things. In the most desolate, impoverished corners of the midwestern American city where I grew up, women became a commodity of lesser value than cocaine. At the age of 14, I was already the sexual property of a powerful gang. They kept me at their trap house for sometimes weeks at a time, nothing but their resident sex toy, their house girl. They indoctrinated me so profoundly that I believed myself to be with my friends, and I believed this is what I deserved. I hid everything from my family, from my school, from any authority who might have been able to help me, because I didn’t want help.

On those streets, morality became subjective. Money became the highest of motivations. I have seen what poverty does to the mind and to the body. I have watched the want of money twist the morality of the most innocent. I became who I was because desperate men exploit desperate women to desperate ends. I will never know the circumstances under which my sexual enslavement seemed justifiable, but I do believe that the justification exists. Whether or not it is a fair justification is not my decision, and fairness is ultimately irrelevant when it comes to survival. Sometimes everything a man does dictates whether or not his daughter eats tomorrow. And sometimes when he gets his hands on enough discretionary income to purchase a prostitute, all of that frustration and anger and sadness burns out of his hands and purples her skin. It is no man’s fault. It is this godforsaken city’s fault. It is the fault of these hideous streets and these dim streetlights. It is the fault of greed and gangs and guns, masculinity and loyalty and trauma. Poverty is trauma. Little boys become violent, little girls become insecure, and suddenly the corpses of whores and drug dealers illicit less heartbreak than the corpses of dogs. Humans love their dogs more than humans love their whores.

The house girl exists to embody the obedient element of a power imbalance. She is screwed like she is irrelevant, because she is irrelevant. The only compliments she ever gets are about her body. The house girl has a perfect body. The house girl has a perfect body, but she doesn’t have perfect skin. She is white and pink and purple. She is decorated with bruises and scars which are easy to ignore while you are inside her.

Q opened the door and behind him stood five more men. This was an exercise in domination. This was not about sex; it was about power. Q said, ‘She forgot who daddy is.’

I said, ‘no I didn’t.’

‘Why ain’t you listen to me?,’ he demanded.

I said, ‘I do listen to you.’

‘Why B tell me you did a weak a** job he didn’t wanna pay for?’

I said, ‘probably because I was tired.’

He grunted skeptically and yanked me to my feet. The men with him, some of whom I knew and some of whom I didn’t, began reaching for my breasts and my butt. I stood there and let them feel everything. Twelve hands caressing one 14-year-old girl. I would be forced to do a good job until I could do a good job half-conscious. But on this day, I was still a novice. The six men took their privates out.

The overstimulation made me flash in and out of awareness. Gagging, wheezing, legs shaking, eyes watering from the pain. Three behind me, a frenzy of bodies. I was the only one who was naked. I was the only one who didn’t matter. The satisfaction of each of those men meant my survival, and so I was dedicated to it. They probably wouldn’t have killed me even if I was uncooperative or I didn’t do a good job, but they would have beaten me. They would have made me take it anyway. And it made more sense to participate to the best of my abilities, because the faster they finished the faster it was over.

It was dirty and dark. It was like being screwed by a singular beast with six heads, twelve fists, and six private parts. It was like drowning on dry land, not because of lack of air but because I wasn’t allowed to breathe. There was absolutely nothing sexy about it. It was not even sex. It was shameless brutality. It did not look like a scene from any legitimate pornography. Picture darkness but for the light coming in from the hallway and picture spindly-legged spiders strolling along the molding. Picture a girl who just wants men to finish wherever they please, as long as it means it’s over. Picture a girl who just wants it to be over. Picture gang members. Tattoos across their chests and up their necks. Vacant eyes as they’re having their way her. Hear them groaning, hear her screaming, hear them heckling her, ‘Don’t run. I don’t remember telling you to stop. Don’t stop. Look at me. Don’t look at me. I said look at me! Don’t move. I’m not done. Tell me you like it.’

That day there were six of them. Some days there were four. Some days there were eight. Some days there were crackheads screwing me beside children screwing me beside cameras. And the only thing worse than the toll it took on my body was the toll it took on my spirit. It exhausted my muscles and it exhausted my independence. It drained my energy and it drained my resilience. It bruised my skin and it scarred my psyche. So, what is worst? Screwing an old man or screwing a child? Screwing a child or screwing a room? There is no answer to that question and there is no catharsis in attempting to appraise trauma. Everything hurt. Everything hurt for its own reason, its own gross realization of warped power dynamics. Everything that happened in that room was depravity. It was hell on earth perfectly realized.  Heat and screams and loneliness and dedication to one’s own disgrace and nothing but unrelenting pain.

Such disgusting things happened in that room. Humiliation bred compliance and character. Money, despite what they would tell you, was not the only valuable currency. Drugs and sex were not the only things being sold in that place. Status and sex tapes, legal connections and trade secrets, these are the currencies of real value. The control of other human beings. Whether you get them addicted to your cocaine, your whores, your charisma, they become yours. Make them feel as if you are their family. Make them feel as if leaving will damn them more than staying. Make them watch you break their brothers, and they will learn. A man in most vulnerable in one of three states – high, drunk, or with his privates out. Here he will be all three at once. A woman is most vulnerable naked and soaked in drugs and alcohol. Keep her intoxicated and alone. The only human connection she gets is when she’s getting screwed. Make her think she needs it. Make her think it is all that she is. If you get your hands on her at 13, she’ll believe it by the time she’s 17.

And at 17, I did. I was a perfect. I was loyal. I was dedicated. I took responsibility for what had been done to me and I accepted my place. That’s what a good little slut is supposed to do. That’s how a good little slut stays alive. I don’t know if someone who has never been a sex slave could ever understand it. The way obedience becomes empowering. Being told I did a good job was more rewarding than any legitimate accomplishment in my life. If I could be a perfect slut, I could be a perfect woman.

One day, I overheard about a deal being negotiated which would relocate me to another city. I had heard about such things before and they had never happened, so I didn’t think much of it. However, a week or so later when I was put into a car and we began driving in a direction that seemed suspicious, I realized I was about to be sold into a new level of trafficking. I knew what was about to happen to me. That car was going to drive me to another city, and I was never going to have any semblance of freedom again. And this was just the beginning. And from this point forward, this was going to be the rest of my life. I felt like property. I felt irrelevant, deeply unloved. The way my service was an assumption, my complacency an expectation. I was being sold. All of that false forgiveness, all of that merciless toleration, was over. I was not going.

The car stopped at a red light just before the turn onto the interstate. I said, ‘no.’ That’s all I said. ‘No.’ I could have ranted at them, told them how repulsive and unbecoming their actions were, but I knew that I conveyed it all just by saying, ‘no.’ I told you I didn’t want it and you did it anyway. You know the kind of monster you are. I said, ‘no,’ and then I scrambled across the seat and pulled up on the lock. The two men in the car were screaming at me. ‘What the hell?’ Get back here! What the hell you on?’

I tumbled out of the car. I heard honking and shouting but I just ran. My body was functioning on heat and terror and adrenaline. The knees of my leggings had ripped on the concrete and my scraped skin was bleeding. My elbows and forearms were abraded and burning. But I just ran.

I spent over four years in sex slavery, and suddenly I was free. I went to the hospital and was treated for STDs. I didn’t want or need legal justice, I just wanted to move on. Currently, I am in college studying to be a social worker. I haven’t done cocaine in nine months, and I am in a healthy relationship. My adolescence was atypical and traumatizing, but my potential is fiery and powerful.

I am aware that in addition to the pity and the disgust, there is an element of interest in the potential readers of this story. The shock value, the hideousness, the reality you always knew was there but never got to see. I want to show it to you. I want you to see it because I want you to know. I want you to look closely at your daughter and your sister and I want you to wonder. I want you to ask. I want you to save her before she is forced to save herself. I want you to look at your son. I want you to teach him that a woman’s body is a cathedral and he has no right to shatter her stained glass, that her mind is a bibliotheca and he has no right to insult her corridors of experience and understanding. I want you to look at the streets on which you raise your children and if they need to be changed, I want you to change them. I want you to protest. I want you to speak out and be loud and be annoying until your elected officials listen. And if they won’t listen, I want you to run for office. I want you to give people the benefit of the doubt, whether they are homeless and asking for change or mentally ill and asking for help. I want you to care so deeply that it kills you, and then I want you to turn that pain into passion. I want you take the things that make you angry and turn them into things that make you act. The possibility of creating change is the reason I am dedicated to telling my story.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by a woman who wishes to remain anonymous. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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