The night has always been frightening for me. My parents divorced when I was quite young, and as a little child I would cry throughout the night while at my dad’s home—mainly because I desperately desired to be with my mom. When I moved into my dad’s home full-time at age twelve I cried for months out of deep pain and longing for an escape. I did not think my escape from my home-life would be kidnapping and rape on a nightly basis.
The thing about trauma and dysfunction is that in many families and cases it does not feel as though it is abnormal for the individual. In my own journey I sure wasn’t aware that the things going on within and outside of our home were not normal or healthy. Trauma seems to place blinders upon our eyes and muzzles around our mouths, especially in children and adolescents.
Even though I grew up in the “Bible Belt” region of the United States I was not aware that my older sibling coming into my bedroom at night was something to talk about. Attending church didn’t seem to change the behavior of my family, nor did living in the most upper class neighborhood. No one knew the physical, sexual, verbal, and psychological abuse going on within the walls of our 3,300 square foot home.
Since my biological parents were divorced, I would travel back and forth between my mom’s and dad’s house. By the time I was in first grade my father had already remarried and added three new siblings to our lives.
By the time middle school came I dreaded going to my dad’s house. I knew what and whom was awaiting me when I walked through those doors. This was where my life would alter drastically. My mom had been caught embezzling money and was sentenced to spend time in jail. My dad, on the other hand, seemed like the perfect parent to outsiders. He was granted full custody, and what I thought was my worst nightmare started to become my reality.
Many think it was one of my four older brothers who abused me as a child—but it was my sister. We were only two years apart, yet she had the knowledge of a middle-aged man when it came to sexuality.
One evening my sister and her friends were going to stay at someone’s house for a slumber party. Oddly, I was invited to go with them. My sister urged me (more like peer-pressured me) into going—as did her friends. My parents said it would be a good idea since I mainly spent time at school, playing sports, or in my bedroom. The more they encouraged me to go, for some reason, the more my heart sank. But I agreed to go.
The girls packed my bag and off we went to this slumber party. Pulling up to an apartment in our garden district of town, we said goodbye to our parents. Inside there was no furniture except for one couch. We dropped our bags and immediately my sister and her friends pulled out their cigarettes.
As smoke filled the tiny apartment building, a man came into the apartment. He picked up all our bags, threw them into the back of a truck, and told us to load up. Being the child I was, the listening one, I did as I was told. We packed into his one-row truck like a bunch of sardines and stopped at a hotel. Inside were many other girls. In this one hotel room were probably 25 or more girls and women.
My sister had been dating a man in his twenties for a while, and I knew him well since he was best friends with one of my older brothers. In he walked with confidence as high as the top of Mt. Everest, pointing and sending girls out. In a matter of moments I was the one he was pointing at, talking so fast to his boys outside I didn’t understand.
“That night I was taken to hotel after hotel. Men were lining up to pay for a virgin. I was twelve years old.”
Grabbing me by the arm he took me outside and told me I was to listen closely and not to misbehave. I was strip-searched and all my belongings were taken from me. That night I was taken to hotel after hotel. Men were lining up to pay for a virgin. I was twelve years old.
So much was going through my head. Where was my sister? Why had she encouraged this? I thought about God a lot. I felt shameful, like I didn’t want Him to see me like this and thought how disappointed He must be. (I now know this was a lie). I really didn’t understand what was happening and was very confused. If this was what sex was like, why would people do it? These men did such graphic and forceful things—I just couldn’t understand.
I had no idea money was being exchanged. It wasn’t until maybe a week or two later that my pimp told me I was making him lots of money. When I asked what he meant he said, “men were lining up to see the show.”
I remember being angry with my sister. Wondering why she would place me in this position. But I also knew that she was not someone who protected me or thought of my well-being, so in some ways I wasn’t shocked by her actions. I wasn’t aware of how involved she was until the following day when she told me her and her boyfriend had planned it.
But I wasn’t angry with my sister’s boyfriend. I mainly feared him. And yet, at this point I wasn’t fearful of my life because I think shock had taken over. I disassociated a lot. The intense fear would come later, as you’ll learn in part two of my story.
“I was blindfolded and never shown where we’d arrive next. Night after night, I would be raped by men all while attending middle school during the day.”
The very next day, after that first night, a car showed up in the middle of the night. My cell phone rang. On the other line was that boyfriend of my sister’s telling me he had a “date” for me. I climbed out of my window and into the car. I was blindfolded and never shown where we’d arrive next. Night after night, I would be raped by men all while attending middle school during the day.
My entire world had been flipped upside down because of evil and wicked people. I was placed in the game by my sister and her boyfriend, and for the next two years of my life this was my nightly routine. Middle school was filled with cheerleading, tennis, soccer, and trafficking.
The good news is that I got out of the game, and I now get to use my voice to expose the injustice that’s happening right under so many of our noses. That, to me, is a blessing. I know there are many who don’t make it out. But, as you’ll learn in part two of my story, things would get much worse before I finally got free…