I am Debbie, one of the girls who were able to be freed from the sex trafficking syndicate. I was lucky enough to be placed in a shelter for abused girls and then years after, a foreigner couple sponsored me to get educated.
My painful journey started when I was just 11. My father who was a heroin and cocaine addict sold me out to a drug dealer. At that time, my father was paid quite a sum of money because he told them I am a virgin and they will benefit from me as I was very young. My father was my keeper and my pimp, and he would also use me from time to time for his own sexual pleasure. It was the most horrifying part of my life. It did not stop there. I had to endure all the physical, verbal, emotional, and mental abuse from my stepmother and her son who when he got a little older also raped me. “In reality, sexual assaults committed by strangers comprise only a very small percentage. An individual is 73% more likely to be assaulted by someone they know or someone close to them,” says Hung Tran, Psy.D.
At night, I would often cry on my pillow and would ask God why this had happened to me, that if only my mother was with us, this would never happen, and I would be like any other girls who are loved and cared for like a precious gem. I would always fall asleep with tears in my eyes dreaming that my mother was sending me away to go to school, smiling, with her hands waving at me as I was walking away. It is a scene that keeps me going, a scene that I repeatedly play in my mind.
The pain of my childhood and teenage years can never be erased and will never be changed, but I still feel blessed that I was saved from the pit of sex trafficking. It made me gracious enough that despite all the pain and heartaches my father had caused me, I was able to forgive him, my stepmother, my stepbrother, and every single man who used and abused me. It may sound crazy, but it proved that it is easier going forward with no heavy burden on your heart. I finished college and am now working professionally for a pharmaceutical company.
“Just because a person is in a position of power over another person doesn’t give them the right to act out their violent behaviors. Society and family members need to stop making excuses for perpetrators behaving badly and start enforcing the idea that honor and respect carry far more weight and value. Women are not there to be subjugated or victimized,” said John M. Grohol, Psy.D.
When I was rescued from the whorehouse, my life had changed. It was not easy even when I was undergoing therapy and counseling. Working in a brothel for almost half my existence, it is hard to forget about it, and it seems that my body is craving to go back. There would be times when my mind and my body would not meet. In my mind I hated it, but my body was thirsting to be with men again. Staying confident and focused was difficult, but with continuous counseling, love from my new family, and the nuns in the shelter homes who often visited me, I was able to survive the struggle.
“The silence about rape reflects the nature of the crime and both the victim and society’s reaction and interaction in response to it,” says Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP.
Now, I am hoping of being able to start my own support group, although I am at present a member of a support group who helps and supports women like me who were victims of sex trafficking and rape.
What completes me now and gives my life meaning is the chance to share my story and inspire others, reaching out to them, and letting them know that they are not alone. There are people like me who despite all the odds were able to survive and live a decent life and has the right to be loved sincerely and honestly.