I have a friend who is rambunctious and wild. She lives from one high to the next, rarely stopping to see how each decision will effect the next. She lives for today and today only. My friend is seventeen and has been in the life since she was thirteen, which is the average age of entry. She is a second generation prostitute and was essentially raised up to be in the life despite her mother continually telling her to choose a different path.
We were visiting last July and talking about her future. She loves hair and makeup and making people feel beautiful. We talked about the possibility of her going to beauty school after she completes her GED. At one point in our conversation I looked into her eyes and realized she had checked out. She finally spoke the words that she doesn’t think she can do it; that at seventeen, she truly believes she has one skill and that one skill is sex.
We as her community have told her over and over again that she is only as valuable as her body, and that her worth is dependent upon how she performs sexually. In four years, she has seen more abuse and physical violence than anyone decades older than her. We have a chance to be the voice she never had. We can make choices that effect my beautiful friend and so many more like her for generations to come. We can raise our sons and daughters to be confident and understand their value.
If this seems daunting, start by telling your own daughter she’s beautiful and show your sons what it is like to be a gentleman who treats a woman with respect. For more tips on how to prevent your children from falling prey to trafficking visit love146.org.