We all wear masks from time to time. How often do we put a smile on our face when inside we feel angry or hurt. Sometimes we just don’t have the energy to face reality, so we hid behind a mask and pretend that all is fine. Sometimes we use masks to protect ourselves, we don’t trust that our true self will be accepted. But, hopefully most of us have a safe place where we can remove our masks and be our genuine selves with people who will love us regardless of our struggles.
For a person trapped in the sex trade wearing a mask becomes part of their survival. For the sake of protecting their true self a woman or man often become a “character”. They will take a new name and don a different personality to get through the night. In order to endure the humiliation and abuse they deal with daily he or she will become a different person. The pimps, bar owners, and traffickers threaten them if they are not acting as though they want to be there willingly participating in their own exploitation!
Rachel Moran, in her book, "Paid For", says, “We all practiced dissociation; each of us found our own ways to remove ourselves from what we were doing. We all shut down in similar ways and for identical reasons and we all suffered the same price for it too. We were alienated from ourselves. It was a common, shared, collective experience, this separation of self."
The ramifications of this separation of self are immense. They must fight daily to regain their very sense of being and true identity. This is an overlooked consequence for those who have been victimized by the sex industry. It is very similar to what happens to victims of domestic abuse or child abuse. And it is only because of courageous women, men and children who are speaking out and sharing their painful experiences as victims of human trafficking that we are beginning to understand the long term effects.
My heart is broken listening to people speak of their experiences and the violence and abuse they have suffered. But we cannot shy away from hearing their stories. It is often the first step to becoming whole again.
We must provide a place where a woman can speak of her pain with the understanding she is loved.
We must provide a place where a man can speak of the injustice done to him and know he is valued.
And we must provide a place where a child can speak of her suffering and know that she is safe.
We must provide a place where the masks can come off and where people can be made whole again! Where true identity can be found and where hurts and pains can be REDEEMED!