Suddenly I See

Suddenly I See

I wish I could say that statement were true for me.  The problem with memory repression is that everything is foggy.  When repressing recurring trauma, it can be hard to remember the good stuff because the brain is so busy trying not to remember the bad stuff.  Of course, I remembered my father existed.  That would have been hard to reconcile.  But I didn’t remember the abuse.  It sounds like a good thing.  Who would want to remember that?  And it’s true.  I would prefer not to remember it. There are downsides though.  I wrote earlier about the physical and emotional affects of memory repression in Memories and From There to Here.  But there’s another downside.  I can’t selectively forget.  If I forget the abuse, I have to forget the people who tried to help me.  Otherwise, there would be no way to reconcile the memories in my logical adult brain.  Why was someone trying to help me when nothing was wrong?  This is a problem for me.  I want to remember the people who tried to help me.  And I can’t.  I may remember the color of their shirt, or where they lived, or even something they said to me, but no faces and no names.  There’s just no significant information that will lead me to where they are today. There is one person in particular that I would love to talk to.  He tried to do the right thing.  He was the first person to tell me that my father was doing something wrong.  He even confronted my father.  He was young though.  And my father knew...
Coming Back Home

Coming Back Home

I am graduating with a Master’s Degree in Social Work in two weeks.  It is a very exciting time of transition for me as I start my internship and leave my current job of 8 years.  As I take more steps toward work in the anti-human-trafficking field, I feel like I am coming alive.  I am truly excited to start this work. This feeling of excitement is a new feeling for me.  This decision to switch careers feels like the first decision in my life that is coming from me.  It is the first decision I have made without any outside influences.  The funny thing is that most people think this decision is crazy.  Honestly, some days, I think it’s a little crazy.  The main driver for the perceived foolishness of this transition is financial.  Nobody can understand why I would leave a nice-paying information technology job with great benefits to be a social worker. I guess I look at this transition as coming back home.  I was never meant to work in information technology.  My path to IT was certainly not a straight line.  My first degree was in finance, but I found my way to IT through a passion for project management specifically related to financial systems implementations.  So, I went back to school for an IT degree.  I was told by everyone that technology was where I should be.  I was definitely a logical thinker.  I had the drive.  Most importantly, it was easy to be financially independent while working in IT.  And deep down, that was all that mattered to me.  I wanted to make...
Coming Out

Coming Out

I hate driving in Northern Virginia.  Although I only live 90 miles from Washington D.C., I never go there.  I don’t have the patience.  Of course, it probably doesn’t help that I was trafficked in Northern Virginia, so that certainly adds some angst.  This is why it was a bit surprising that I took a day off from work to travel to the second day of the Freedom Network Conference.  My primary reason for going was the survivor panel discussion.  I had talked to a couple of survivors that I wanted to meet in person. The conference was more than I could have imagined.  There is something healing about meeting other survivors.  It is even more healing when those survivors are inspirational.  I was so impressed with their tremendous acts of courage. I met Ima Matul, who is the Survivor Organizer for the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) in Los Angeles.  She is a survivor of labor trafficking.  She had recently introduced me to the National Survivor Network, which includes labor and sex trafficking survivors from across the nation. I also met Shandra Woworuntu, a sex trafficking survivor, who works as an empowerment counselor for other trafficking survivors in New York through her organization, Mentari.  She promotes the needs of survivors by telling her own story and advocating for legislative changes. I attended a survivor training led by Ima and another survivor, Stacy Jewell Lewis, who created a play called “7 Layers Captive”.  In her play, Stacy addresses the difficult questions about trafficking to educate the public on how women are forced in to prostitution.  She addresses...
Stop Victim Blaming

Stop Victim Blaming

It’s the new slogan of the anti-trafficking movement.  It’s powerful for those who understand it.  And for those that don’t … it’s written off along with everything else they don’t understand.  Supporters respond to those that don’t get it by saying it more and saying it louder.  But there’s a problem.  It’s not just a slogan.  For survivors of trafficking, it has to be so much more than a slogan. I have intellectually known for quite some time that my abuse and trafficking was not my fault.  If someone asked me whose fault it was, I could quickly point to my parents, my pimp and the other pedophiles who paid the money.  I stay current with journals and news on this topic and I can spout out statistics and stories to anyone who will listen (and I do). But this intellectual understanding is not enough for a survivor to recover from this trauma.  When we are children, we take on the shame of the trauma.  We take it on because we are told it is our fault, but the shame is too much for us to process with our young minds.  So, we store it for later. I stored my shame all over my body (because there was so much of it), but it mostly landed in my hips and shoulders.  It sat there for many years.  I dealt with a host of physical problems from muscle and joint pain to reproductive problems and inflammation.  I also dealt with intense anxiety.  I found medical and alternative solutions to deal with these issues because I was still able to function. ...
Mommy, when are you going to find us a daddy?

Mommy, when are you going to find us a daddy?

I hear this question about once a week.  When I first heard it, I cringed.  I was not sure how to answer it.  I was afraid if I didn’t come up with the perfect response, my children would be permanently scarred.  It doesn’t bother me very much anymore.  I have several answers now.  My personal favorite:   “It takes a while to find a person special enough to be your daddy.”  Of course, that doesn’t quell the impatience. When they were younger, they didn’t understand the complexities of that question.  I guess they just thought I would go down to the local store, pick one out, and bring him home.  They didn’t know what was taking me so long.  Now that they are six years old, they understand that it is more complicated than that.  They know about marriage and they know that “a mommy and a daddy” are supposed to love each other.  So now, they have resorted to fixing me up.  Recently, my son came home from school with the exciting news that his friend had an uncle with a beard, a jeep and a jet pack.  Apparently, this was all my son ever wanted in a father.  I was a bit curious about the “jet pack” part, but I decided it would be best to leave it alone. As a single mother, I can relate to other single mothers in their quest to balance a challenging family schedule with some form of social life or dating schedule.  That is a huge issue for most single mothers.  Unfortunately, there is a second complication for me:  something that can’t...