Monday, August 22, 2016

Getting Inspired: Four Things You Must You Do To End Child Sex Trafficking

Please note: There are a lot of potential triggers in this post. This post is mostly about and for my readers who are not sexual abuse survivors. Survivors may find that they want to share it with friends who would like to know how to help, particularly how to help end child sex trafficking. If you were sexually abused, you might also like to read this advice about healing.

People often say I'm an inspiration. You'd think I'd be happy about that but, more often than not, I'm angry. This post will explain why. Bear with me. The ideas I'll explore here are complex and difficult for me to put into words. The truth is, I've been struggling with this post for at least a month.

First, here's why people say I'm inspiring. 

I'm victim of child sex trafficking. In other words, I was a slave. The violence of the many rapes I endured at such a young age left me physically disabled by terrible pain. By the time I was three, if not younger, I was being passed around to people to sexually abuse. I'm not sure if money was already being exchanged; I was so young, I did not yet even understand what money is. By the time I was eight or nine, my many rapists paid Smother (my closely related female care-giver) when they raped me. At about nine, she sold me to three men who repeatedly gang raped for three days, injuring my lower back for life. When I was about thirteen, yet another gang rape injured my upper back and I have suffered from migraines ever since. By my late thirties, my injured lower back could no longer function and, since then, I have been crippled by constant, disabling physical pain. Obviously, I also have PTSD, complex PTSD to be exact.

All this alone is a tragedy but not an inspiration. I assume people say I'm an inspiration because I managed to quit the drugs Smother gave me, graduate from high school with academic honours, leave home, stay off the streets, get a BA, a TESL, and an MA, become a college English instructor, make lasting and meaningful friendships ...

... and even find love

Once my disabilities made it impossible for me to work, I started writing this blog (when my PTSD and body allow) -- and I started speaking out about disability and child sex trafficking. I started telling my story.

I'm assuming that it is this relative success in life, and this speaking out, that leads people to call me an inspiration. But I'm afraid that what they mean by "inspiration" is not at all what I'd like them to mean.

I'm afraid they mean that I "touched their hearts," nothing more. I'm afraid they mean, "Now I realize my life isn't so bad after all so I shouldn't complain." I'm afraid they mean, "If she can do all that, surely I can do that little thing (take a dance class, tell my husband I'm mad at him, whatever) that I've been afraid to do."

If that's what you mean when you tell me I'm inspiring, I'd rather you didn't read my blog at all. I'm serious.

Contrary to popular belief, the word "inspire" does not mean "to touch someone's heart". To inspire means to motivate someone to DO something. One common synonym for "inspire" is "incite". In other words, if something or someone inspires you, it leads you action. I want to incite action.

I do want to inspire you, to really inspire you, in the true sense of the word. With all my heart, I want to inspire you -- to do something to end child abuse! I want to inspire you not just to feel, but to act. This won't happen until you allow my story to shake your world-view to its very core. That's how I want to touch your heart. Nothing less.

Here's where I usually say something like, "But first: my outfit," and I am indeed going to talk about my outfit in this post but I'm going to do so in way that may make you uncomfortable. I'm going to tell you all the ways that the abuse I endured affected my sartorial choices. Because, you see, child abuse touches every aspect of my life -- and yours too, if you'll let it. You have to let it or nothing's going to change.

Dress, shoes, earrings, and ruby ring: vintage; bracelet: boutique; sunglasses: Aldo
Because I was raped so brutally at such a young age, my back (and often my legs and head and gut) hurts all the time. In an effort not to increase my pain, I'm always on the lookout for outfits that actually look good without binding or putting pressure on my body in any way. Grunge dresses fit the bill. Lately, I've noticed that these loose, floral dresses so emblematic of the 90s grunge look have been making a comeback. So I found a few original, vintage grunge dresses online. This one is my favourite. It's pretty and incredibly comfortable.

Of course, I found it on Etsy; my back pain makes shopping in second hand stores extremely painful. Pushing clothes on racks, walking through often over-crowded shops, carrying clothing, taking clothes on and off... it all hurts like hell. And that reminds me of being raped a lot as a kid, and such reminders are another kind of hell.

I think the floral pattern on this dress is very pretty. I've always been drawn to such patterns but was discouraged from doing so as a child because my family were hippies and they thought it wasn't feminist to enjoy feminine things.

I added some other floral details like this brooch in my hair. I've only just started wearing brooches in my hair; with such a huge collection of brooches, it seemed a good idea. When I wore this outfit, my hair was much too long to look good down; high ponytails were one of the only styles that seemed to work.

Why was my hair so long? Because getting my hair cut is an ordeal that increases my pain levels terribly. I take my scooter on pubic transit to my hairdresser downtown and it bangs and jars on the rapid transit, causing pain. Then I have to sit still for about an hour, which causes pain. Then I have to get all the way home, which causes still more pain.

The whole thing is exhausting; I can never accomplish anything else on the day I get my hair cut, and it often takes me a few days to recover. This makes me so very angry and upset. Why? Because I'm disabled because of child sexual abuse. My PTSD flares. It's awful.

So I put it off and put it off and wear high ponytails. Of course, on bad days, the ponytails cause migraines. I get migraines because a bunch of rapists tied my arms above my head on a bed and forced their penises into my mouth. They gleefully explained to each other that, if they tied my arms close together, I wouldn't be able to pull my head back and away from them. They were right, but it caused a permanent injury to my upper back. I was thirteen. Every time I get a migraine, I remember that rape, the humiliation of it, the revulsion, the pain. Most of all, I remember my rapists' laughter. It should come as no surprise then that my migraines often cause me to have panic attacks. 

I take all this into account when I pick my hairstyles on a hot day.

I added these lovely, Murano glass, wedding cake beads to my outfit because they perfectly matched my dress and because I think they're incredibly pretty.

Smother had a necklace of Murano, wedding cake beads that I loved as a child, though they were in the blue that now so badly triggers me. There are many reasons light blue triggers me, including the fact that Smother sliced my labia with a razor as I lay on a light blue carpet. It made for good, profitable child porn. I was about ten.

As an adult, I figured I deserved some wedding cake beads of my own, in anything but blue. I got them to match a necklace I found for only $10 at a thrift store (it hurts less to look for vintage jewelry than to try on vintage clothing). So these earrings are far more than just pretty beads; they are, for me, a special present to my child self, who deserved so much and received so little. They help me heal.

I love this green, pink and gold bracelet, though it's cheap and turns my arm green. I also love that it's over shadowed by the natural beauty of these flowers. I think they're wild roses.

Smother and I had this same kind of roses outside one of our houses, the house where the worst abuse took place -- the house with the blue rug. Every single night I have nightmares that I'm back in that house, trapped, with nowhere to turn, Smother manic on drugs, the threat of rape constant.

So, you know, even though I love these wild roses, which I pass any time I leave the house on my own (on my scooter, of course, because I can't walk far), I kind of don't like them too: they remind me of the abuse. This is what it's like to have PTSD.

Now I've already told you about my Revenge Ring. I bought this with my inheritance when my no-goodnik father died. He knew something was terribly wrong in his children's home and abandoned us to it anyway. Even years later, when I told him exactly how bad it was, he felt no regrets and no guilt about not rescuing us. You can read more about that here.

Since he hated anything and anyone feminine (like me), I bought the most feminine thing I could think of with a bit his money (now my money): a ruby and diamond flower ring. As with the bead earrings, then, buying this present to myself was a healing act.

My pink shoes match my dress almost perfectly. I was strongly dissuaded from liking pink when I was a child because it too was considered too feminine and therefore not feminist. We all know how well that went: I have loved pink all my life and doing so has been a very pretty form of rebellion. (How Smother could call herself a feminist and sell the child in her care is a lifelong mystery. Did she fancy herself an entrepreneur?)

Shoe choice is also directly affected by the abuse I endured. Shoes with any heel, shoes with hard heels, shoes without arch support: they all rapidly increase my pain. If a shoe has a buckle on the ankle, I can't do it up or undo it, so Beau has to kneel at my feet to help me. Such is the life of this abuse survivor. Such is the life of her loving husband, overworked because there is so much that I can't do. I'm not the only victim of my abusers. Beau is their victim too.

I can never get dressed without thinking of how it will affect my pain levels -- and my memories of the rapes -- and whether it's worth it to wear what I'd most like to wear.

Last summer I was way too hot, in large part because my bust is so big now that I felt I must harness my breasts in the huge, boned devices designed for busty women. They're hot, binding, and uncomfortable, and come in a huge range of colours: beige, white, and black. They're not exactly pretty under spaghetti straps so, last year, I capitulated to our culture's unspoken ban on visible cleavage, nipples, and unsightly, matronly bra straps, and wore clothes that hid my bra -- and left me damned hot and uncomfortable. But I refused to that to myself this summer. This purple bra is far too small but it's more comfortable than a huge harness, and prettier too.

Now, why do you think my bust is so much larger than it once was? Because of the rapes, natch. I used to be slim and very fit. But my back was injured by those three men when they repeatedly raped me while I was chained to the wall, and when I was on a concrete floor, slamming my little hips against that cement over and over again. (Rapists caused permanent brain damage when they raped my childhood friend in a similar manner, slamming her head against the floor, over and over again. Remember, I am by no means the only child trafficking victim, not by a long shot.) 

When my back finally gave out in my late thirties, exercise became impossible and I gained a lot of weight. Every time I look in the mirror and see my newly curvy body, I am reminded of this. PTSD is a bitch.

I'm pleased and surprised by how well my very white skin looks, even exposed this much. I'm coming to realize that I can throw out a lot of the "rules" about what does and does not look good with white skin. But I continue to have a fraught relationship with my whiteness.

You see, when I was a very little girl, about three, I was told that I was doing a good thing by "letting" men ejaculate on me. My white skin, I was told, would somehow purify them of the dirt and evil of their pedophilia. Of course, when I was about eight, I was told that, because I'd "let" all those men do those things to me, I was now filthy and evil, not like other girls. Therefore, men could do anything they wanted to me and things were going to get much worse. Boy, did they ever!

Even my own skin colour is a reminder of the hells I have lived. So I try to love my white skin, to see it in new ways: beautiful, and entirely innocent.

I bring all these little beauties into my life to help me heal. In this photo, I'm looking up at a hummingbird as it visits one of the feeders I've put up around the house. I love my hummingbirds. They bring me joy.

Yes, despite everything that's happened to me, I can still experience joy, especially in the small beauties of everyday life. I call them sublime mercies, the name of my blog, and they are a balm to my suffering.

But please, don't praise me for being "positive." Don't tell me my "positive attitude" to my suffering inspires you. Don't tell me that it's inspiring to see how much I've "overcome". Just don't.

I've overcome nothing. I've simply found ways to live with my reality because I have no choice. I don't have a positive attitude about my disability or the abuse that caused it. I HATE being disabled. I HATE being in pain all the time. I HATE having PTSD. I HATE what happened to me. 

I am never really happy. I am always grieving my losses, and raging at the abuses all those rapists forced me to endure.

My efforts to find joy in every day are a survival technique, an effort to glean something more than just agony from life itself. But often, very often, my life feels like nothing more than an endurance test. I feel like Job in his endless suffering, trying to keep faith in a cruel and heartless world.

The cruelty of the world is not just about those who sold and raped me. It's also about those who did and do nothing to stop child abuse. Anyone who stands idly by is not a good person. That's impossible. Yes, I am looking squarely at those who say I'm an inspiration but are completely uninspired to do anything to end child abuse.

To decide that I've overcome all this grief and pain and rage, and have a positive attitude, is to erase me.

It is a vast oversimplification of the my life and of the problem of child sex trafficking. It does everything to comfort my readers and nothing to fix the problem.

I often feel that people insist on believing I have overcome my pain and abuse...

... and insist on believing I have a positive attitude to make themselves feel better. I absolutely refuse to play that role in anybody's life.

I also often deal with people who refuse to believe that I'm "really" disabled. Though I've repeatedly told them that my disability is permanent, they erase my words from their minds and they insist on saying, "I hope you get better soon." They would claim otherwise, but what they're really saying is, "You're lying. You're not really disabled. You're just feeling poorly for a bit."

Perhaps worse, people constantly give me stupid advice to help me "get better," and insinuate that, if I reject their advice, I'm lazy or prefer to be disabled. They would claim otherwise, but what they're really saying is, "Your disability is your fault. Fix it."

They don't want to see how much pain I endure because they might actually realize that they have a responsibility to try to end child abuse and ease the suffering of child abuse survivors.

If they tell themselves that I'm doing just fine, or could be doing just fine, if I'd only make the effort, they won't have to face their own culpability in my suffering.

I can hear many of you saying, "Isn't she being a bit harsh? The people who offer advice or use pat phrases are just trying to help. They mean well." Well that's just not good enough.

Here's a fact: some of the worst prejudice is unconscious and some of the cruellest words are unintentionally cruel. A lack of awareness of one's own prejudices doesn't mean they don't exist. A lack of intention to hurt a person's feelings doesn't mean you haven't hurt them.

It's up to every one of us to think before we speak and to plumb the depths of our own hearts and minds to ferret out our own prejudices, no matter how much we want to deny their existence. It is also up to every one of us to listen when an oppressed person says we have hurt them. It is our job not to deny it but to accept that maybe, just maybe, they know what they're talking about. 

Some of the most dangerous and insidious prejudices are the unconscious ones. You may believe you are never cruel and harbour no prejudices in your heart -- but this doesn't make it so. I'm not sure why, but many people find this concept extremely hard to understand.

In other words, you have to question your own deeply held world views, or "paradigms" as they are often called. It's not easy, and it's not comfortable, but it is necessary if you want to be a good citizen of this little planet Earth. Until you truly examine your heart, you will continue to be blind, not only to your own prejudices and unintended cruelties, but to the suffering of others and the things you can do to ease that suffering.

Consider the case of racism. We can look back on those who violently opposed desegregation in the 1950s and 60s and clearly see that they were racist. But could they see their racism? How many of them thought that their fatuous, "separate but equal" policies were perfectly equitable and racism-free? Many of them did. You and I are sure we could never have been those people. But what might we be saying, doing, and believing today that is just as cruel and just as invisible to us?

I recently had what I fear is a permanent falling out with a friend because I took issue with the common question about strangers feel it their right to ask the disabled: "What did you do to yourself?"

Fed up and in terrible pain, I replied, "I didn't do anything to myself, but others did. I was abused as a child and it ruined my back." My friend told me I was "out of line" and "hostile" in my response because the person who asked meant well. 

But ignorance and good intentions are not actually a defence. We're all reasonably intelligent and compassionate adults here. At a certain point, our ignorance is wilful, chosen; we don't want to know uncomfortable truths. But how uncomfortable are we making the person we have just hurt? How uncomfortable are they in world where it's considered acceptable to ask the injured and disabled, "What did you do to yourself?" Holy victim blaming!

It reminds me of an old girlfriend of mine who told me about street people in India whose feet were so hot on the tarred streets, that they were peeling and bleeding. "But," she said, "they're happy!" She went on to tell me that they had inspired her to learn to be happy too. Surely, she said, if they could be happy in such extremities of suffering, she could be happy in her relatively comfortable Canadian life.

So the lesson she learned from them was to love her own life more? She didn't learn that perhaps she should do something to improve the lives of people so poor, their feet were bare on the baking hot streets of India. Oh no. Because these people somehow manage to smile sometimes (in an attempt to charm western tourists into giving them money?) she learned that the destitute are happier than she is and that she should try harder to be happy. They were her inspiration.

Thanks to my lovely husband, Beau, for doing what he does best: making this chart.

What utter nonsense! I don't want anyone to tell themselves such pretty little lies about my life. I don't want to inspire anyone this way -- ever. And yet, I do. People do to me just what my ex did to those poor people in India: They tell themselves that I'm happy, that I've overcome my past, that I have a wonderful positive attitude.

They erase my truth. They erase me. It's more comfortable that way -- for them, but not for me.

Here's the truth. My life is emotional and physical agony. My ability to smile does not change that. My ability to find small moments of joy and beauty does not change that. Please don't tell yourself that it does.

Please don't misinterpret what you see and hear. Here's an example. People see me riding my scooter with my legs up on the basket and they look at me suspiciously: "If she can move her legs that much, she must not be disabled". I've even had people express surprise and shock that I can walk, or even move my legs at all! They've got it wrong. When my legs are up like this, it's because I'm trying to relieve the pressure on my aching lower back. It means I'm in more pain, not less.

You can't imagine the struggle that is my life. On this particular day, I was in so much pain when I got home, I couldn't even make it up the stairs into the house without first collapsing.

Sometimes, I'm in so much pain, I think I will lose my mind. Sometimes, I wonder if it's possible to die from exhaustion. Sometimes I think my emotional pain will kill me.

I hope my reality inspires you. I hope it inspires you to do something to end child sex trafficking and child abuse in general.

What does this mean, in a practical sense? If you really want to make a change, what should you do? Let me propose four steps, none of them easy.

Step One:

First, you must accept the reality of child sex trafficking and pedophilia. You must accept its prevalence, its horrors, and its proximity to your own life. It could be happening to the little boy next door, or the little girl who plays with your daughter after school, or the children at your church. It could be happening to your own children. It could have happened to the woman in the office next to yours at work, or to the woman at the grocery store, or to your professor.

This means that you know paedophiles. You simply do. Maybe you don't know one well, but somewhere in your family, or in your social set, or in your work world, or in your place of worship, you do know a paedophile. It could be anyone: that little girl's mother, that boy's uncle, your babysitter's boyfriend who is actually her pimp, your minister, your children's teacher. It could be your own father, or even your own husband.

You are recoiling from this. I know you are. Acknowledging the mere possibility of this truth is very very hard.

But you have to know, you have to accept, that child sexual abuse and even child sex trafficking, sex slavery, is not something that happens far away to other kids. It happens here and now.

As I said before, accepting all this will mean a massive shift in your world-view. In other words, you will have to face and challenge what psychologists call your "cognitive dissonance". If you believe, for example, that childhood is carefree, you have two choices when faced with the reality of the prevalence of child sexual abuse: allow your belief to be shattered, or discard reality. Most people chose to discard reality, and, in the process, they discard me, and all the others like me. Children's welfare is less important to most people than preserving their false sense of a fair and just world.

This little girl is Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Alice, from Alice in Wonderland. It's author, Lewis Carroll, took this photograph, and other, extremely disturbing, sexualized photos of Alice and many other little girls. Was he a paedophile? Most people prefer to believe he wasn't. His photographs and the time he spent with children suggests otherwise.
This discarding of truth to preserve one's own comfort is common, far more common than accepting painful truths. Very frequently, when I have told people even small portions of my reality, I have watched their faces go blank, their eyes shifting from mine. Even as I'm speaking, their cognitive dissonance leads them to erase my words.

I have told people that my own family caused my disability and then had them cheerfully ask if I'm going to spend my holidays with my family. When I remind them that my family was "no good," they admonish me by saying, "I'm sure they did their best."

Surely, you don't want to be like those people. I want to inspire you to be better than that.

Doing this requires, perhaps above all else, believing victims when they tell you they were or are being abused. This may mean you have to stand up against a family member or a friend, to defend a helpless child, or an adult you knew when she was a child.

The default, the most common response to victims is disbelief. For example, it is not at all common for families to disbelieve those sexually abused by family members. It is far more common for a family to reject the victim as a liar and close ranks around the abuser. It's more comfortable that way. But is it comfortable for the survivor? Now, not only was she pimped, by, say, her mother and repeatedly raped, but she also has no family, no support, no money, no love. Anyone who does this to a sex trafficking victim or any sexual abuse victim is not a good person. They simply aren't.

I want to inspire you to be a good person.

Step Two:

The second step, I think, to ending child sex trafficking, is for you to start seeing, really and truly seeing, all the many ways in which our society perpetuates views that allow child sexual abuse and child sex trafficking to continue. This is something I've had to do as an adult and it is beyond painful, believe me. You'll never be able to see your world, your culture, the same way again. But you will be a better, wiser, more compassionate person. You may also be very very angry.

From the sexualization of young girls in fashion spreads and beauty pageants ...

... to many churches' emphasis on forgiveness of paedophiles above children's safety ...

American Apparel, one of the worst offenders in this issue. 
... to the prevalence of extremely young teens modelling what are supposedly adult fashions, to the constant compliments on their appearance that we give little girls ...

Want to start doing something to end child sexual abuse? Boycott American Apparel.
... to back to school advertisements like this ...

... to constant advertisements telling women that childhood is sexy and attractive...

... to the custom of fathers "giving away" their daughters like presents or chattel to their husbands at weddings...

... the blurring of the lines between sex and rape, childhood and adult sexuality ...

... the false belief that many girls and women make false accusations of rape and that, if a rapist is not charged with rape, or a woman is reluctant to report the rape to police, clearly, he didn't rape...

All these things and more perpetuate a world-view, a paradigm that permits child sexual abuse and child sex slavery to continue.

This includes some pretty awful language people use to talk about girls. One of the most harmful iterations of this problem is the insistence of the media and most people in general on calling child sex slaves prostitutes. These same people frequently refer to paedophiles as "having sex" or, even worse, "having sexual relationships" with children!

Is there something about enslaved children that makes us less human, less deserving of safety than children who grow up with love and safety? That's what children like me were and are told by their captors. Don't you want to prove otherwise?

My God, is it not clear that there is no such thing as a "child prostitute" (or, even worse, a "child sex worker")? Is it not clear that there is no such thing as a "sexual relationship" with a child?

The attitudes revealed by such choices of words perpetuate the wrong paradigms and those paradigms permeate every part of our society, including the "justice" system that is supposed to protect children. When I went to the police about a teacher who had repeatedly put his hands on me, they asked me, over and over again, if I'd wanted him to leave his wife to be with me. I was 13! He was about 40. Clearly, the police believed that we had a "sexual relationship," not that he was a pedophile and I his victim. 

Naturally, he went on to prey on more children. I've met them. It could have been stopped, if anyone had bothered to believe.

What I'm really saying to you here is that what happened to me did not happen outside the bounds of our "civilized" society. It happened firmly within the bounds of our society. We must all face that if we are to affect any change at all.

Sometimes people say to me that what happened to me is "off the charts" or "off the scale" of normal human behaviour, and what my abusers did to me is off the scale of regular human behaviour and depravity. They weren't really humans, they say; they were monsters. But they weren't. They were human alright, completely human. This reframing of my life as "off the charts" is yet another way of dealing with cognitive dissonance and not having to place my suffering firmly where it belongs: within our society, your society, a part of humanity as it really is.

If what I went through is off the charts, then enlarge your charts! Abused children everywhere deserve that.

Step Three:

The third step is to speak out about child sex trafficking. Tell people that it exists, here and now. Speak out against it. Whenever it's relevant, say something. And, as I hope the above examples illustrate, it's relevant an awful lot of the time. The sexualisation of children, the giving away of the bride, the talk of "child prostitutes": we need to talk about these things. They need to be recognized as part of the problem.

This also includes speaking up on behalf of sexually abused family members. When someone says, "Oh, she's lying. That didn't really happen. You know she's always been troubled anyway," defend her! Tell your family that you believe her. Tell them how incredibly rare false accusations are. Ask them why they think she's so troubled in the first place. Couldn't the fact that she's troubled be proof that she was abused rather than proof that she was not?

If you must, break ranks with your family. Reach out to the victim. Let her know that she's not alone. Who deserves your love and loyalty more: those who abandon a raped child or those who love her and help her heal?

I've got news for you. If you do get this far, if you do speak out, you will not be popular. You will lose friends. You will alienate family members. But who needs friends and family who refuse to face truth? Who needs people who would rather preserve cherished falsehoods than rescue a sexually abused child? I don't. Neither do you.

And you won't be alone. You really and truly won't.

There are people all over the world...

... of every race, religion, and political allegiance, who are speaking out, who are fighting hard to right this most terrible of wrongs. I am not the only one. You will not be the only one either.

Step Four:

Your final act, is to do something if you even suspect a child is being abused, in any way. If you see underage girls working the streets, if your nephew tells you something bad is happening to him, if your daughter has unexplained bruises, if your friend tells you he has the hots for a young girl, if one of your students starts acting out in sexual ways... do something! Report suspected abuse to the police, to government social workers, to abuse tip lines. It's the law. It's your legal and moral duty.

Please, do not give up. When you try to report child abuse, perhaps especially sex trafficking of very young children, you will find yourself banging your head against our culture of denial. You will be endlessly frustrated by all that cognitive dissonance. Keep trying. You could save a life. You could save a child, a child like me, from a lifetime of physical and emotional pain.

All this is how I want to inspire you. This is the inspiration I want to be for you. 

See me. See human suffering in all its horror.

See the world as it really is, not as you wish it to be.

Speak! Bring my story and stories like mine out from the shadows. 

And act. No child should ever go through went I went through. But that's up to me, and it's up to you. 

For the love of God, for the love of children, do something! 

(I'm sharing this with Not Dead Yet, Not Dressed As Lamb, Sydney Fashion HunterElegantly Dressed and Stylish, Happiness at Midlife, High Latitude Style, Fashion Should Be FunStyle Crone, Rachel the Hat, Adri Lately, Tina's Pink Friday, and Honest Mum.)


  1. Amen! And thank you for saying it! I resonated with so much of this.

    "This means that you know paedophiles. You simply do. Maybe you don't know one well, but somewhere in your family, or in your social set, or in your work world, or in your place of worship, you do know a paedophile. It could be anyone: that little girl's mother, that boy's uncle, your babysitter's boyfriend who is actually her pimp, your minister, your children's teacher. It could be your own father, or even your own husband." This is a thing I wish I could repeat to everyone. We call abusers "monsters" in order to tell ourselves that they couldn't be like us, that they couldn't be in classes with us or taking our insurance card at the doctor's office or bagging our groceries. Never mind our mothers, our fathers, our families. And just that-- that use of the word "monsters"-- makes me want to tiptoe out of the conversation. Like, okay, you can't hear me.

    1. Allie, thanks for getting what I'm saying here, and telling me about it so quickly. It was a hard post to write because I knew that most readers would unconsciously resist comprehension. So I struggled to write as clearly as I possibly could. I so understand that feeling of speaking but being unheard. It was frustration with this constant silencing that was part of my motivation (my inspiration?) to write this post. Please do share it. I feel we have to at least make the attempt for these messages to be heard.

  2. Thank you for writing this, despite the pain I know it causes you. I will be sharing it with my students.

    1. I'm so glad to hear that, Melanie. This is exactly the kind of "doing something" I'm talking about. Do prepare them though, or maybe walk them through the post. This is the stuff of nightmares.

  3. Thank you for this Charlotte. I too will be sharing it via mail with Congress and the President's office. If it is so painful for me to read, how must it be for you to write and live? xo


    1. Thanks so much, Patti! This too is "doing something." I hesitated to share this on your link-up because it's only a little bit about fashion but, since many of my readers are from the style blogger world, and I'm sure some of them are survivors, I thought I should go for it.

  4. Thanks for linking up to Top of the World Style. Great dress and jewelry!

  5. I appreciate you sharing this Charlotte. I don't know what to say, as it must be painful, I will share this post.
    Thank you for linking up with turning heads tuesday
    jess x

    1. You don't really need to say anything more than that you know it's painful. That's more than I get from most. Sharing the post, and saying something to others is what really matters to me.

  6. Replies
    1. Thanks. If my blog has a thesis, this blog is it. So an amen, in any language, is just fine by me.

  7. Charlotte; I had just responded to a tweet about stopping child sex trafficking and abuse with a question.I wanted to know exactly what a person could do to help stop this horrific type of abuse. I was immediately lead to this blog which provided more then one answer to my question. I am grateful for this, and can truthfully say that you have inspired me to action. I would appreciate it if you could provide me with any other specific, meaningful ways to help.
    God bless, Cathy TJ

    1. I'm so happy to hear that I've inspired you to action. Did someone tell you about this post or did you find it on your own?

      I wish I could give more advice on what to do to help. As it stands, there aren't enough organizations available to help trafficked kids, especially the extremely young ones and/or the ones trafficked by their own families. If there were, I'd suggest you join them or donate to them.

      As I said in this post, I feel that the most important thing is to change one's attitude to one of knowing that this is happening, opening one's eyes to seeing it when it is, never shutting up about it, and believing and helping victims when they say it is happening or did happen to them.

  8. What a lovely brooch. It picks up the shape and colors of the flowers in the dress beautifully, as well as the color in your hair. Thank you for sharing with Hat Attack!

  9. It's shameful that this article has received so few comments. I am doing everything I can to get people to read it and repost links to it. So does the friend who showed it to me. Please keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks, Francois. I really appreciate it. The lack of comments is an example of the very indifference I write about in this post. But do take heart in the fact that it's been read nearly 2,000 times. Also, survivors often write to me "behind the scenes" rather than commenting so I've had more feedback than it seems. Still, wouldn't we all wish for a post like this to go viral?

    2. I am not a very popular person on social media, but I am doing what I can to make this a reality.

  10. Charlotte,
    I struggle with teenage girls and fashion choices. If they are depressed in a way that's too grown up and you say something, then they might feel offended, but if you say nothing then likely someone is going to leer at them. What are your thoughts?

    1. My thought is that if an adult leers at them, it's his fault, not the girls'. Women and girls should be able to wear whatever they want without judgement, fear, or blame if someone does something bad to them. It's up to adults not to sexualize children. It's not up to children to prevent that sexualization.

      All that said, of course I'd rather young girls not dress in adult ways. But some of them will, especially in world in which they're taught that their only value is in their appearance.

  11. Charlotte, thank you for your post. It was hard to read not just because my
    Empathy for what you went thru but the fact that I was molested when I was
    A pre teen and maybe earlier. I may have blocked it out. I will share wherever
    I can and try to open people 's eyes on the prevelence of child trafficking etc in
    Our "civilized" society. Keep on fighting and surviving, my dear. Tears for the
    Child you were and the beautiful woman you are.🌷

    1. Thanks so much. Thanks especially for telling me that you will work to open people's eyes wherever you can. Sometimes I feel like I'm all by myself in this. It's good to know I'm not.

      I'm so sorry you were molested as a preteen. It is common for abused children to block traumatic memories. I hope, for your sake, that you don't have more trauma to remember. If you do, I wish you courage, strength, and comfort through that process.

      I do so wish my life weren't all about "fighting and surviving." I keep waiting for the "enjoying" part!

  12. Is it okay to say you keep me inspired to incite action into our legislators? It's not an easy task, and even when they support something, it might not go anywhere, and it also may take 2 or more years to get it passed... But, I do it because it is what I know how to do. It is something, and I can only hope it gives these people something to think about. Even if laws don't get changed or made, maybe these legislators will actually make changes in their daily lives. I can only hope...