I was watching one of those state trooper TV shows the other day. In the episode, a lady had intrusively parked her trailer on another lady's land in eastern Montana. The landowner called the police to get her off. While the police were on the way, the landowner discovered that there was another lady in the trailer- a young, Asian woman, and together, the two women were handing out flyers for "MASSAGES- 100% HOT YOUNG ASIAN WOMEN!" When the officer arrived, he interviewed the young Asian. "I don't know about this massage. I came from New York to be a housecleaner. She promises me $30,000 per month for cleaning... I mean $3,000." As she spits out excuses, the officer stares at her dumbfounded, holding a flyer with her erotic picture front and center. The woman had paperwork... a passport, nonetheless. She was clearly a US citizen and not a victim of the international sex trade, yet here she was, willingly putting herself in the center of human trafficking- to be used and passed, used and passed. The trooper asked a lot of questions to get the details of the case, but then he asked one question that I'm pretty sure we were all asking: Why?
Jane was a lot like this lady. She says she doesn't remember much about her childhood of drug-feuled abuse and molestation, occuring in both her home and the day care she attended on a daily basis. At age 14, she found herself in the hands of Jay, a family friend who promised her a better life in Oregon, but ended up forcing Jane into prostitution. Alone, empty, and unloved, Jane grew more and more depressed. She knew she was being abused, but the attention from Jay felt good. How can something so wrong and sick feel so much like a solution? “I trusted him even after all this stuff. After he abused me, I still thought it was love — I thought that this is how it was supposed to be. … Most of our arguments were about money,” she said, adding that she had sex with six men a day, sometimes eight or nine. “I was bringing him $600 a day, but he wanted more.” Just like this Asian lady, she could have gotten out. She could have found a job. But something was holding her back, tying her down to the prostitution beast.
Ain't that how it goes, though? We have these needs, so deep that we would do anything to fill them. The need to be loved. The need to be respected and come out on top. The need to lose weight and feel beautiful. The need to build muscle feel strong. The need for a father, or a mother, or a grande french vanilla chai with extra foam and a drizzle of caramel. If only he would notice me! If only I had the courage to talk to her! If only I hadn't done it. If only I didn't have all these needs. Paralyzed and defeated, we dig ourselves into a hole too big to climb out of, only increasing our eternally growing lists of "If only, if only"s.
Author Kary Overbrunner calls these holes our "given names"- the names that the world gives us, and that we give ourselves. Names like "prostitute,"