CAUTION: This is a very hard story to read. Proceed only if your heart can handle hearing the truth about a girl caught in Sex Trafficking
Shame is something that has been felt by humans since the fall in the Garden of Eden. It was brought upon us from the serpent who distorted God’s perfect will, when he fooled Eve into eating from the tree of knowledge. She then shared the fruit with her husband, and after they ate it, they hid from God because they knew they did something wrong. Genesis 3:7-8 says: “Suddenly their eyes were opened to a reality previously unknown. For the first time, they sensed their vulnerability and rushed to hide their naked bodies, stitching fig leaves into crude loincloths.Then they heard the sound of the Eternal God walking in the cool misting shadows of the garden. The man and his wife took cover among the trees and hid from the Eternal God.”Just like Adam and Eve, we hide when we feel shame.
We know that our spiritual enemy has come to destroy any and all joy that we have. In the first part of John 10:10 it says: “The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy”. The devil will cunningly use shameful events to keep us away from experiencing the abundant life that Jesus came to give us. The battle for our souls is real. So if we know this truth, let’s walk in the freedom and abundant life that we have in Christ. Let’s finish the rest of the promise found in that same verse (John 10:10), when Jesus says “I came to give life with joy and abundance”. Whatever it is that you may feel shame about, know this: there is nothing that the blood of Christ can not cover. And whoever the Son sets free, is free indeed! (John 8:36)
I am speaking with boldness because I have been one shameful girl most of my life. From the young age of 13, I was raped at least twice. I can’t remember all the details because I was always blacking out from the immense amount of pills and alcohol that I would consume to escape from the pain. I went through middle school with a shameful reputation. I was called many names, such as, slut, easy, and whore. I was known as the girl that would date older boys, boys with girlfriends and sometimes brothers. When the older brother would be done with me, I’d get passed down to the younger one. I don’t know about you, but I spelled love – S.E.X. I was looking for love, but I thought that physical intimacy and sex was the only way you found it and the only way to show it.
This led me on a very broken path into my adult years. When I was 19 years old, I met yet another guy, who told me how beautiful and smart I was. This time, he was promising a commitment to me. He told me all my dreams could come true. There was only one catch. I would have to sell my body and become his prostitute. He said, “You’re having sex anyways, why not get paid for it?” There was a little truth in that lie. And because I desperately wanted someone to love me, I agreed to do it. When I began to change my mind and want to stop, I couldn’t. I had become his property. He used violence, brainwashing, money and manipulation to keep me trapped for 5 years. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he didn’t want to be my boyfriend. His intention was to sexually exploit me.
I had a close relationship with shame for many, many years during and after my sex trafficking experience. It weighed on me heavily. I literally tried to – scrub it away. I developed eating disorders and lots of other unhealthy coping skills. I began to use drugs as a way to numb the emotional pain and intense guilt and shame I felt. This, of course, only made my life worse. I found myself in another string of unhealthy and unsafe relationships, living on the streets, and using heroin. My shame-stained past: it’s who I thought I was. It was my identify (or so I thought.) You could see it on my face and in my eyes. I was lost.
In 2007, I started my journey of recovery. I had put together about 2 months of clean time and I met a woman that took me to church. After the service, we sat in the backseat of her car and I found what I had been searching for all my life. This woman and her friends told me about the love of God and the salvation He offers through His son, Jesus. I wept and accepted this Savior they were talking about. I thought, “If this God can love me… He can love anyone, because I am nothing more than a dirty, dirty person.” Shame had distorted my identity and my worth. What God wanted to use for my good was being used by my enemy as a way to steal from me and destroy me, from the inside out. I couldn’t see the entire picture at that point. I didn’t know that my story would be one day used by God to help many young girls and women. Instead, I had been trying to cover it up with the latest fashions, shoes and pocketbooks. I drove expensive cars and wore nice jewelry, but the pain on the inside wouldn’t go away until I was ready to surrender it to a loving and trustworthy God. Only then was I truly set free and could begin the journey of healing.
It has been a process for sure, but, transparency and vulnerability with safe people is what catapulted me into this new found freedom. I exposed my secrets – first to God and then to people. I found comfort in the Bible, verses like Isaiah 1:18 where it says “Come on now, let’s walk and talk; let’s work this out. Your wrongdoings are blood red, But they can turn as white as snow. Your sins are red like crimson, But they can be made clean again like new wool”. To know that all my shame has been washed as white as wool, brings me comfort. I know that when I struggle in my recovery – I can go to God, by faith, holding on to His promises, knowing that Jesus understands me and my struggles.
Lastly, in Hebrews 4:16 it says; “So let us step boldly to the throne of grace, where we can find mercy and grace to help when we need it most”. Sisters, when we need it most, He meets us with arms open – full of grace, love and forgiveness. Go to Him now, in the quietness of your heart, and ask Him to bring healing to the places you’ve been hiding from your parents, your friends and from Him. He is grieved by what has happened to you. He wants to bring you out of the dark and into the light of His healing power.