By Kendra Holliday | August 9, 2011
|There are many women like me
Ed Note: Remember this sensational Newsweek article about johns being horrible people? I sneered at it, but my friend Josie thought it was pretty spot on. That’s because she has the horrific perspective of being trafficked for six years – she was bought, sold, and traded for drugs. I asked her to share her story with us. Here it is.
I don’t blame anyone for what happened to me.
If anything, it was a complete lack of knowledge that is to blame. I grew up in a very sheltered environment; I was homeschooled from third grade through high school. My sex ed was basically “Insert Tab A into Slot B; babies will occur. Don’t do it before you’re married.”
And that was it.
I knew my parents loved me, but they were never overly physically affectionate. So when I was offered both a job and physical affection and attention at age 19, I jumped all over it. I craved it.
I was willing to do just about anything for a cuddle, a kiss, a few minutes of being petted. I didn’t know, didn’t realize until it was too late, the danger I was in. One thing led to another, one stupid decision was followed by an uneducated choice, and the next thing I knew, I was a sex slave.
I initially got involved with my pimp as a normal dating relationship. We met at a club and hit it off. When he asked me to “run a few errands” here and there, I didn’t mind. Plus, he was always grateful and cuddly when I returned. He acted like I was his girlfriend, buying me little presents at first and taking me out to dinner or a movie. I knew he had a couple of other “girlfriends,” but he kept us pretty well separated from each other, and even at that point I was perfectly fine with my honey having other ladies of his own.
“Carry a package” favors turned into “Go fuck this guy”. Eager to please an older male who was giving me the attention I so desired, I did what he said. But when I tried to say “no”, albeit on very rare occasions, I would get the living daylights smacked out of me. It just went downhill from there, until it didn’t matter whether I said yes or no anymore.
Barely a single day would go by where I didn’t have the snot beaten out of me. Constant johns, who saw the bruises, figured they could get away with the same. And I was being used as a drug mule. My first girlfriend, the woman who captured my heart, died in my arms after taking a bullet meant for me the night a drug deal went bad.
I was stabbed… shot… strangled… and technically died at least once by being drowned. I tried to run… and my pimp would come find me. Then, he would beat me until I couldn’t move, and turn me over to the most vicious, violent johns he could find until he figured I was broken again… and the cycle would continue.
I had no way of contacting anyone outside, not my parents, not the few friends I’d made before I got caught up in this, no one. My every move was watched, every conversation listened to, and any attempt at rebellion immediately and severely punished.
A Glimmer of Hope
Out on a job one night, walking to the motel room, a man bumped into me, and I felt something slip into my pocket. I just kept walking, did what I needed to do, then escaped into the room’s bathroom “to use the facilities” and get dressed. A small note, maybe an eighth of the size of an index card, and on it in tiny letters:
a way out.
All I had to do was stand on a certain corner to meet a john on a certain date, and everything else would be taken care of. I tore the little piece of paper up as thoroughly and quickly as I could and flushed it. Miracles still existed… or if they didn’t, what was one more night of violence, one more week of torture, one more month of hell. It was all the same to me anymore.
On the given night, I was on that corner at the time mentioned. And I waited. Hours, it seemed. It was a summer night, clear skies and warm; the air smelled like fresh cut grass, car exhaust, and hot asphalt. There were cars passing by, a light breeze, the normal sounds of a small city. I was horribly nervous.
I was hoping my pimp didn’t come looking for me, hoping none of the johns I’d been with saw me, second-guessing myself, scared of the unknown stretching out before me, happy that if this guy showed up I’d be free of my pimp no matter what happened afterwards… so many conflicting emotions jumbling around.
A car pulled up. A man built like the proverbial brick shit house stepped out of the car. He opened the passenger door and gestured for me to get in. This wasn’t a john… johns either arranged everything ahead of schedule with my pimp, or negotiated prices beforehand.
I got in.
I DIDN’T decide to trust him. I figured in this case, the devil I knew was pretty damn bad, how much worse could the devil I didn’t know be? Anything to get away from my pimp, I didn’t care.
I never looked back. I was free…he was a friend of a friend, someone who’d gone looking for me, found me, and arranged for a group of current and ex-military and para-military friends and acquaintances, anyone who was willing, to get me out, hide me, keep me moving, until I couldn’t be found.
I eventually married, for convenience rather than love, and had a child. When my husband turned violent, I didn’t stick around; I left, flying from Hawaii to Georgia, to meet a man I only knew through a year-long online interaction. Thankfully, he was everything he presented himself to be – kind, understanding, forgiving, happy and willing to help me work through my issues and move forward.
My issues include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and split personality; I’m agoraphobic (fear of being in crowds) and hyper-reactive to any perceived threats. I’ve also developed a terrifying stress-related seizure disorder.
My story is exactly why I refuse to shelter my own child, who is now three years old. Certainly, I will protect her, and I won’t expose her to anything that isn’t age appropriate. But she will be raised in a sex-positive environment, and she will be raised to know that NO means ABSOLUTELY NO, and that if a partner doesn’t respect that, she has every right to leave, to come find me, and that I will do whatever it takes to make sure that she is safe and protected.
I encourage my friends now who have kids to do the same. Don’t hide sex from them… don’t be stingy with your affections… and for the love of whatever deities may or may not exist, please, warn them of what’s out there, the kind of people who might take advantage of their innocence. Arm them with knowledge, and with the understanding that you will ALWAYS be there for them, no matter what.