I am a survivor of family-controlled child sex trafficking. When the family is involved in trafficking, it starts with incest at a very young age. There is a process of desensitizing the child, so that sex becomes expected and without emotion. Since my traumatic experience started with family sexual abuse, I can relate to sex abuse survivors.

We have the same challenges in recovery. We struggle with setting appropriate boundaries. We are trying to find our voice. We aren’t sure how to express our emotions in a healthy manner. We are working hard to build our self-esteem, so that we can have positive relationships in the future.

However, there is one challenge that comes directly from my child sex trafficking experience. I call it the “commodity” issue. “How much am I worth?” This is a difficult question for me. In my logical mind, I know there is no price for me, but if recovery happened in the logical mind, this journey would have taken me about one week. So I battle with a part of me that wants to prove to the world that I am priceless. I know that doesn’t sound like a bad thing. I AM priceless. Unfortunately, the need to prove it shows up in some dysfunctional ways.

My mother, a trafficking victim, was phenomenal at demonstrating this dysfunction. She made plenty of money. She had plenty of things. But she never had enough. The house needed to be bigger. The collections needed more collectibles. When one expensive vacation was complete, a new vacation was already being planned. If her husband attempted to stop the spending, she would just try to hide it. I believe she was expressing her anger by running up their credit cards. I think she was trying to tell him that there was not enough money to buy her. Of course, she was doing this unconsciously. She was not doing this in a constructive and conscious way.

So I work every day on my own relationship with money. When I feel the need to shop, I try to examine that need. I try to balance the need to be priceless with the need to be a martyr by finding other ways to be good to myself. I try to look at things as just things and place the value where it belongs … on me … the human being. I am taking my value back because I am priceless.