We hope *Chrissy’s story conveys why it is so absolutely essential for us to spread awareness of this issue in the United States, know the signs to look for, and be ready to act.
“I was a ten year old girl being interrogated by a police officer in downtown Philly.
‘What’s your full name? Date of birth? What’s the name of your elementary school?’
I answered the officer’s questions while remaining seated in the front of our rental car. I put my headphones back on when the officer turned back to my mother. I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t anything. I was just waiting.
My mother sold me for sex throughout my childhood. We didn’t need the money because my dad was a physician. My parents were still married and living together. Dad never suspected anything. No one suspected anything. Except this specific police officer who stopped my mother in Philadelphia, two thousand miles away from home.
‘He thought I had kidnapped you!’ My mother explained with disgust as we drove away. ‘So he made you answer all these questions to make sure our answers matched up. He thought it was weird that you just sat there as we argued!’ We were on our way to view the Liberty Bell when she was pulled over for calling the police officer a name out the car window as we passed. He noticed my placid demeanor with some suspicion. I wish I could tell him now that he was right to be suspicious. I wasn’t kidnapped, but I had just been sold for sex by my mother. Seeing the Liberty Bell was a cover for those nefarious activities. Examining the crack in the bell and the officer’s interrogation are my most clear memories from that trip.
That and the quiet waiting.
I almost wrote, ‘I don’t know what it was about me that made so many people rape me.’ But I need to remind myself, continually, that it wasn’t about me. Ever.
My brother and his friends sold me in our upper-middle class town’s motel. One of them got the key while the other walked me to the motel room in clear daylight. I knew just what to do. I was seven. I don’t know if my mother gave him the idea to earn extra money, or if he was her errand boy so that if we were caught, she wouldn’t be implicated. I guess it’s a “thing” that, if you’re “easy” or trained to be raped, you might as well be sold to other people to be raped. My brother stood inside the room with me and asked me to trust him because everything would be okay. He said he’d be waiting right outside the whole time and to not be afraid because he would protect me. He knew he could count on me because I was so tough and strong. I didn’t want to disappoint him. But when he shut the door and I sat on the floor and leaned against the wall, there are no words that can describe the darkness I felt inside while I waited for my new “friend.”
Sometimes, waiting felt like the scariest part.
I boarded an airplane as a teenager, feeling so exhausted. My mother sat in the seat against the window and guided me to sit down and rest my head on her shoulder. I hated touching her or being touched by her, but at this moment, she was the boss because I had no control over my body. She had gotten me a soda in a fit of “niceness” and put some sort of drug in it. I didn’t know what happened, just that I suddenly could barely keep my head up. The next thing I knew, I woke up in a motel room near an airport. Everything was dark but I spied my bra on the floor by the bed. I ran, naked, over to my bra and into the bathroom and threw up in the toilet. My head was spinning as I made my way back to the bed and the strange man in it. Surely it was all a bad dream. Where was I? Did I do this?
As an adult, I’m coming to terms with everything that happened to me. With the help of a therapist, I’m trying to retrain my brain and have a clear vision of myself. They told me I was never lovable, or pretty or special. I wasn’t tough. These are the things I was told at a young age. I was tortured if I didn’t cooperate. It was either do what they say or die.
But I’m alive. I am special. I have value. I am beautiful. I am talented and gifted in many ways. I am loved by people who are trustworthy and who don’t hurt me.
Is there a moral to my story? I don’t know if I’ve found it yet. Every day is incredibly difficult. I feel like it’s a fluke that I didn’t destroy myself with drugs and that I’ve survived to not do to my kids what was done to me. I don’t have justice and feel like I don’t have a voice because my abusers are still alive and well. I suppose the moral would be to keep an eye out for kids—ones who are silent or ones who cry all the time or ones who are so very angry—and to talk. Sexual abuse happens everywhere and all the time. The more we talk about it, the more we are aware of it, the more we keep an eye out for it, the more good wins and the evil of sexual abuse has to disappear even farther into the darkness.”
We recognize *Chrissy’s bravery, and it is our hope that every survivor can believe they have value, that they are special, and that they are beautiful.
We encourage you to become more aware and talk more about the issue, as Chrissy has. To learn more about the signs of trafficking, go to ourrescue.org/training and take our free online course.