“The first human trafficking victim I personally met was a very sassy 14 year old. She looked much older than her years. We had lunch at Chevy’s. I was nervous driving there; wondering what in the world I would have to say to her that would give her hope, make her believe there were people who cared for her. In her young life, she hadn’t had much proof of that fact. The vice cop I knew told me she had been trafficked for sex repeatedly since she was 12 years old. When I first saw her, I was surprised. She looked like most of the teenagers that fill my home on any given weekend. I wonder now why that surprised me. We weren’t minutes into our burrito when she began to recount the details of her young life. I was shocked, but she appeared not to be phased. We could have been discussing the weather. She told the story in chronological order and in great, graphic detail. My mind was screaming from the horror and evil done to this child but my face remained blank. I felt it important she not see me react. When I asked about her family – her mother and father – there was a visible flinch, a slight crack in her thick emotional armor. She began to describe to me the abuse she had suffered at the hands of the people who were suppose to love and care for her – sexual abuse by her father and drug abuse by her mother. Her mother was her first pimp; selling her young body in exchange for drugs. I felt sad and sick. This child, and she was a child, had never experienced the love of a family or the safety of a home. I wanted to grab her and wrap my arms around her promising her both. Instead, I told her about the dream for Courage House, a home for child victims such as herself. I asked her if there were such a place, would she want to come live there. I held my breath waiting for a reaction, praying for one as I stared into her eyes … for a moment I thought a saw a spark of hope. Instantly “it” was replaced with disbelief – disbelief that such a place could exist except in fairy tales. She dropped her eyes to her plate. We were both so still. After a few moments she quietly whispered, without looking into my eyes “if there were such I place I would like to live there”. I reached across the table and gently touched her hand. I was scared this slight token of affection might cause her to run, and asked her what she needed most at that moment – without hesitation she said, “someone to believe in me.” This time she looked me in the eyes.
That is what we at Courage to Be You, Inc. dream of offering these kids at Courage House – a safe home, a loving family and someone to believe in them. We have secured the 50 acres of land for the first U.S. Courage House. We hope to have girls by late this summer … we pray we have girls by this summer. First we must raise the operating budget to hire the staff and at the same time obtain our license from the state. We believe God will provide both in miracle time!
It has been two years since my encounter with this young trafficking victim; she would now be 16 years old. Because there was no Courage House, no home for her, no one to believe in her; the last thing I heard about her was that she returned to the world of sex trafficking attempting to freelance without a pimp. She started recruiting her own girls via her My Space page. She succeeded for a while until she was arrested in Southern California and brought back to the Sacramento area. She learned her lesson of trying to go it alone and eventually found another pimp – or he found her. She got a promotion for she was getting older. Now she recruits and trains girls younger than herself to do what is expected of them in this line of work. For her efforts and hard work she got a beating, she got pregnant by her current pimp/boyfriend and she had an abortion – though law enforcement was able to use the DNA from the fetus to convict the pimp/boyfriend. He is now in jail. I have no idea where she is.”