When you own the mind, you own the body.
I set the alarm for 12:30 AM. I knew I wouldn’t actually sleep. Just mostly trying to rest, anticipate and be open to the mission I was a part of that cold November night. I knew to be sure to bring a jacket, as the windows would be down a lot.
They call it “the game”. The game of pimps owning girls, pimps competing with one another to steal their girls, pimps patrolling the streets to make sure the girls didn’t talk to the competition. If the girls talk to the competition, it can be dangerous. She can be abused, cut, made to pay in a number of ways.
It was now nearing 1 AM. I was in the car with Kyla, who does this every week. Connecting with the girls on the street. Showing them a way out. We saw a few young girls dressed like they had been out for the night. Out “clubbing”. Were they on their way home? They walked across the busy lanes of the well-lit retail area and into a residential neighborhood. We stopped at the light and we watched them disappear into the darkness.
“Look ahead…see all those cars going into that neighborhood? Do you see their taillights? Do you see how they are all turning left? Those are Johns”, Kyla told me.
We pulled across the street and took our place. It felt like we were in the drive-thru at McDonalds- waiting our turn. And when we made our left turn into the neighborhood we became a part of a mass of cars, all with one driver, some old, some young, all sharing the same common denominator of seeking sex for hire. It was a mid-month Friday night. Pay day when not so many bills were due. So extra money meant more dollars to spend on sex.
Sophia was the first girl I met. She was maybe 15 with her pimps name tattooed on her neck. Sophia was standing by herself at the edge of the street, waiting for a car to pull over and invite her in. Dressed in a red mini skirt, a faux fur black vest with a black bra underneath, and spike black and silver high heels, she walked over to us when we rolled down the window. “Hi” we said.” would you like a gift?” How about some hot chocolate? Pretty cold out there tonight isn’t it?” ‘Oh yes, thank you,’ said Sophia.
We had instant hot chocolate ready and handed it to her. “By the way,” Kyla said, “we know about the game. You’ll find a lip gloss with an 800 number on it in the little gift bag.” Sophia moved back to her spot on the street. Back to work.
There were 13 girls on the block that night. Some of the young girls were sure to have been trafficked. The young victims could have come from playgrounds, malls, online and as runaways. And some older who were probably taken years ago. Some were dressed scantily, others dressed in sweats. Some of them were Caucasian, some African American, some Hispanic…a mix of nationalities and mostly women. The young victims came from playgrounds, malls, online and as runaways.
My experience that night could be played out in many cities and towns across the country.
There’s much to learn. There’s so much to know about this billion dollar industry. How can we get involved in eradication, how can we recognize the need for us to come together and create awareness. And how can we recognize the signs of trafficking in order to help.