What makes leaving “the life” so difficult? In a domestic violent relationship, it is said that a girl will go back to her abuser on average seven times before she actually leaves. What is the draw and why do so many girls run right back just after reaching out for help? I think we have this idea in our minds that these girls want to be “rescued” and in theory I think many do, but then why does it take so long for real change to actually happen? And why is this pull back so strong? These are just a few of the questions that I am often left pondering late into the night.
There has to be a better way of reaching the women and meeting them right where they are at; figuring out what their exact needs are and how we can better assist them. In the middle of writing this, I picked up my phone and called my friend, who spent many years in “the life” across Nevada and California. I asked her what was so enticing on the other side and what was it that kept pulling her back.
She answered quickly, “The sense of belonging. There were always people around. You were a group, a family. It was dysfunctional in every sense, but it was mine.” I have heard this many times from the women I’ve worked with. It seems daunting and scary to be left alone, without anyone around, just your thoughts and those thoughts become dark and scary. It is said that 67% of women in prostitution suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of the harsh realities and abuse that go hand in hand with prostitution.
My friend also chimed in that she had no real responsibilities. Sure, she had to make the money, but outside of that, she never had to pay bills or think about the future. She was taken care of and so were her immediate needs. Her hair and nails were always done, and she always had clothes to wear. She said, “This changes when you get out, you no longer have the money to do things you were used to doing and you can no longer pay for entertainment and basic necessities. It is really scary, especially if you can’t put food on the table for your kids. Outside of that, I really had to learn how to have positive thrills. Life out of “the life” is boring! You are left with way too much time just to think!”
I really appreciate my friend’s frankness and it gives me even more to think about. How do we offer the women and girls we work with a sense of community and family as well as educational and career opportunities, and a sense of adventure? We need to start looking at all of the different areas that need to be met, not just one or two.
This week think about the areas in your life that are being satisfied and where there is room for personal growth. Comment below and tell me one way you are not only going to improve your life, but how you will also help improve the life of someone else.