I was trapped in the sex trafficking industry. Trafficking in persons is not like any regulated industry. There are no rules.
I was conceived during a brutal rape and learned of it when I was very young. That knowledge and child sexual abuse had me feeling worth less than others and vulnerable. After my mother’s second divorce, I was twelve. By thirteen, I’d been dabbling in drugs and alcohol, wandering the neighborhood and hanging out with a bodybuilder in a black Cadillac. He was patient as he courted me and manipulated me into his bed.
I wasn’t held in sex trafficking with locks or bars or handcuffs, but by fear and threats and hopelessness. One apartment I stayed in was leased to the candidate for sheriff of that small city. Some of the buyers were businessmen, a city councilman, professionals, as well as derelicts that thrived on violence and pain.
He sold me for the first time on my fourteenth birthday. I stood in three inches of slush, my sneakers full of icy water, shivering in front of a local drug store at the end of the street where we lived waiting for Ace to pick me up. The buyer was thrilled to know I was so young, awkward and afraid.
Ace sold me hundreds of times. He sold me to another man who sold me too. It was a quagmire of abuses, gang rape, attempted suicide, sleeplessness, huddling in doorways and church steps, drugs, drinking, arrests and foster care and running away again. At seventeen, I was sold to a man as a house pet. I thought I’d be safer. At least, I would only have to serve him. He dressed me up and took me to nice dinners. I got a job. Finally, I felt kind of stable, kind of normal.
He’d told me that if I got pregnant, I would have to have an abortion. It scared me, but I didn’t feel that I had any choice.
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After four months, I got pregnant. As he slammed his fist on the wooden arm of the couch. He shouted, “I want NO life!” It was terrifying. His voice shot right through me. The man was a small time organized crime boss. He said that I would have an abortion or he’d kill me. One of his enforcers had been my trafficker and beaten and raped me numerous times. I made the appointment in his presence.
That evening, I literally threw my hands in the air as I cried and prayed, “God, if you’re real, please help me.” Somehow, I fell asleep and I had a dream of an abortion in living color from the perspective of inside of the womb. It was accurate for the level of development in great detail. Those little hands and feet, that tiny face, the ribs and blood…it was horrifying. I wanted to be a mom for as long as I could remember.
When I awoke, I called everyone I could think of. I found a social worker who had tried to help me as a runaway. She found a home that would take me. Some friends would take my things to storage. But how would I get away? He insisted that we would go out to dinner after the appointment.
So, the day came. I left and made arrangements with the social worker, but I returned and got ready for dinner. I’d been so scared that I was crying and near hysterical all day. With my face swollen, eyes bloodshot, trembling and shallow breaths, I got into the car. I fidgeted, my breaths uneven. I stuttered, as I told him that I wanted to go live with a cousin who would give me a job. “Something happened to me on that table.” I said, “I don’t want to be here anymore.” I thought he would understand because he had told me of other girls that he’d forced to have abortions and they were let go. The whole evening, I couldn’t sit still at all, I was so afraid he’d find out. I went to the bathroom frequently and cried through the meal, pretending to be nauseous and in pain. On the way home, he said I could go, but if I came back to town, I would have to find him.
I moved quickly the next day. I promised God that I would bring my children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, if my baby was ok. She was and I did. Saving my baby saved my life.
LifeNews Note: Darlene Pawlik is a speaker with the pro-life organization Save The 1.