Her elation was impossible to contain as her former pimp was cuffed and sent off to a federal penitentiary. But the excitement was less about seeing a bad guy going to jail, and more about closure to a long and painful process.
Last summer Men Ending Trafficking began assembling a team to stand with this young lady. When she bravely took the witness stand last October, we were there to protect, show our support and pray. We listened as she told the court how she became a victim of human trafficking. Our hearts sank when she described what it was like, and how it changed her. Each of us was profoundly impacted by the experience.
Her impact statement began with the words “Please Burn After Reading”. It was not to say she wanted her mental and physical scars to be kept secret, but that she didn’t want to hold onto them. Daily, she strives to push past impediments that linger from exploitation in the sex industry; that she envisions a day when the remnant of the abuse will be nothing more than ashes at her feet.
Seeing their friend lead away to his punishment provoked a very different response from a dozen men and women whose loyalty remains with the convict. Clearly, the context of their relationship with the man was something different. As they left the court room, some hurled obscenities at the young lady whose testimony was the obvious clincher; the very reason a guilty verdict was possible. The group, then, assembled in front of the courthouse and waited. Although our young friend had four men and four women by her side, the crown attorney insisted on a police escort to the parking lot.
The incident on the day of sentencing wasn’t the first we had encountered. But then, threatening behavior seems almost part and parcel of human trafficking trials. It’s no wonder that testifying under these circumstances so easily results in a sense of failure and re-victimization. But for our young friend, it brought a personal victory that is helping her let go of the past. –Please Burn After Reading–
MET extends thanks to all those who volunteered their time to surround this brave young lady with much needed support. We also gratefully acknowledge partnership from The Haven, White Rose, Sextrade 101, SafeHope Home and Rising Angels.