Trafficking Survivor: I Was Changed Watching Liberated

Liberated: The New Sexual Revolution exposes today’s young adult hookup culture, providing compelling, relevant insight on the normalization of sexual violation. As I watched the film I began to consider how this toxic phenomenon connected to my own experience of being exploited.

Liberated is not just the title of this film—it describes my experience. I was trafficked from age 11 to 17 in prostitution and pornography, and I was liberated from that exploitation.

But that moment of breaking free into physical safety was just the start of my fight for freedom. And throughout this fight for liberation the sound of chains breaking has broken into my perceptual experience repeatedly. While watching Liberated I heard that sound again.

Hookup culture may not seem connected to the trafficking experience, but I believe it is. It’s the foundation of the rape culture that raised me. It has all the meaningless repetition of sex, minus the money exchange. And the broken gender scripts, exposed here in hookup culture, are what wrote my exploitation story. These are the scripts in which men are written as sexual predators, women as sexual objects, and sex as meaningless.

By age 11 I knew my purpose, as a girl, was to be sexually violated by men. It was a purpose I would fulfill nightly for the next 6 years as I was prostituted and exploited in porn. Nearly destroyed by my exploitation, physically and emotionally, I swore off sex and men, and thought I had escaped this script.

Seeing My Own Life in the Film
In the darkened theatre, watching this film, I saw the film of my own life began to flicker through. As it rolled into the section on gender identity light began to break into my darkness. I saw clearly that, somewhere inside me, the broken script of a girl—as powerless, objectified, and unrelentingly violated—lived still. I saw that my internalized definition of being a girl and my purpose as such was exactly this script.

I had disconnected from it, but now I saw that this toxic script still had a hold on my life. Opportunities had come and gone throughout my life, like education, or jobs, which never really took off because they didn’t feel like my purpose. Now I knew why.

I never wanted it, but the rape culture embedded within our society gave it to me anyway.

Now seeing this lie that I had believed so clearly portrayed on screen, I knew I could change it. This broken script had been blocking who I was meant to be, but no more! As the truth came clear I knew finally it could be erased, for me, and for our culture.

The revealing of these cultural scripts for men, women, and sex that Liberated brings to the screen is transformative. The power of that moment for me, while watching the film, is still reverberating through my life. I am excited to see how it will reverberate in you as you experience it.

The power of that moment for me, while watching the film, is still reverberating through my life.

The Roots of Sexual Exploitation
As a trafficking survivor I see Liberated through the healing it brought me, but also through the hope of ending pervasive sexual exploitation—and that begins with changing the rape culture embedded within our society. The sexual encounters of hookup culture are where rape culture finds its first expressions. Every casual sexual encounter is not legally rape, but it is the rape of our identity as men and women.

Disconnected sexual encounters fueled by primal drives of lust, anger, and conquest begin here too. They are amplified off the charts in prostitution and porn, but they begin here. To eradicate and abolish exploitation we must examine the roots within our culture. Liberated reveals the path between rape culture’s expression and its roots, laying the groundwork for healing to begin.

When I was being trafficked, the men that bought me were not otherwise healthy men who arrived at my door in a moment of aberration. They were broken men living out flawed scripts of masculinity, femininity, and sex. But they did not become like that in a moment.

The desire to see women in violent scenes of rape, domination, and humiliation does not develop from the root of a healthy culture. The desire to pay a woman, whom you do not know, to service you sexually, does not naturally arise in healthy, connected men.

The desire to see women in violent scenes of rape, domination, and humiliation does not develop from the root of a healthy culture.

For each man there were scripts, experiences, and choices that furthered their disconnection, their objectification of women, and their desire for conquest. Over time, as they bought into the scripted lies of the culture, these men became disconnected, dominating, and sadistic.

Liberated clearly exposes these themes of disconnection, objectification, and conquest in hookup culture—these elements are a breeding ground for sex buyers. The broken scripts of exploitation begin there.

Finding Our True Identity
As individuals and as a culture, we are living out these broken scripts of masculinity, femininity, and sex. But brokenness and broken scripts do not fate us to a specific ending either as individuals or as a culture. If we were fated to our broken scripts I would still be a captive of exploitation in porn and prostitution.

No, we are not ruled by these forces when we see we are able to change as individuals and as a culture. And that is where Liberated steps in to show us the truth—the roots of our unhealthy scripts.

With this old script pulled away, I am stepping into new purposes and new ways of being my true self in the world. We all deserve a chance to break free from the toxic roles and scripts that we have been handed. As you watch Liberated, whatever your background, see the broken scripts that may have held you. See, so that one day we can all live liberated! #liveliberated #See2Free

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My Life at Age 11: Trafficked in a Portland Brothel

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