This is the 3rd part of the story of a sex trafficking survivor, my friend Z. In the intro she explained the reasons for telling her story, and in the previous part she began recounting the sexual abuse received from her father. Today she shares certain portions of the abuse that can only be described as utterly depraved, animalistic and demonic. In tomorrow's close Z will talk about her rescue, and God's work in her life.
To further shield Z's identity certain events in this and tomorrow's post have been altered in detail or chronology.
KM: What happened as you got older?
Z: When I was 15 he started taking me places and letting other men pay to have sex with me. We would usually stop at his office first so he could get some things, I'm not really sure what, and he would make me eat something. From that point my memory of specific things can be a little confused. Because of his profession, my dad had access to drugs and I know he sedated me. I know that sometimes he would take me on a small plane. I know that we would usually end up at a hotel. And I know that I was forced to have sex with other men. Beyond that, I don't really know what parts are truths, what my brain has made up, and what happened that I can't remember. When I was sixteen I realized I was pregnant but before I had figured out what to do about it I had a miscarriage.
I was also missing tons of school from either being with my dad somewhere or being too exhausted to go. I would frequently come to school looking like I was a member of a fight club, so trying to manage the lies to cover up what was happening to me while playing sports, working, trying not fail, finding time to sleep, and keeping my dad happy, all became too much. Something had to give. School was lowest on my list of priorities, and that is frequently what gave. Classes became prime time for sleeping. My teachers hated me, or just thought I was pathetic, I'm not sure.
KM: But something else happened in the middle of all this.
Z: Late in high school I found out I was pregnant again. While my dad had always been terrifying to me, something changed and everything he was doing just seemed darker and more primitive – if that makes any sense. It was like he stopped trying to pretend to be good and just let the "badness" run rampant. I am sure he was trying to get me pregnant, and he succeeded. I was scared out of my mind, and I just could not have a baby fathered by my father. The only solution I could see was to have an abortion. I got pregnant a few weeks before my 18th birthday. I waited until I turned 18 when it was legal to have an abortion without my parents having to know. The abortion and aftermath were not good either, but that's what happened.
KM: Where was your mom in all this? Was she completely unaware?
Z: I'm not sure what she knew, but she was emotionally fragile, too. At some point while I was in high school my parents finally divorced. It's all very confusing to try and explain, but it left my mom in a sort of financial hole. She was a disaster in every way possible, so I was unofficially in charge of damage control to keep her sane. I hated that so much. She would frequently talk about quitting her job for a better one, but she wasn't looking for a new job. That was also left up to me because she was emotionally and intellectually incapable of doing that. I did a lot of things for her. At some point, she found a boyfriend and stopped living with me at our house. This was no good for a lot of reasons, number one being that my dad still had a key. When he realized I was basically living there alone, he took advantage of that and just showed up whenever he wanted, to do whatever he pleased.
KM: At some point you left home, though, and attended college in another town. Were you able to break free from him at this point?
Z: It seems like that would be the case, I guess, but that is not what happened with me. I thought that by moving away from my dad things would stop, and he would leave me alone, but that is as far from the truth as could possibly be. If anything, he just let me have a sense of autonomy while the damage and abuse just got worse and more intense and controlling. He would show up at my house.
He would show up at my work. He would follow me, or come up to me during the transition times from point A to B. I didn't usually try to fight him. I like to pretend that I'm scrappy and I could knock you off your feet if I wanted to, but the truth is I'm sort of small and am no match for a man more than twice my size. Most of the time he drugged me right off the bat, and that was pretty much it.
Most often, my dad would text or call me and tell me I was supposed to meet him somewhere. For the most part I didn't know when I would get summoned by him, and so I couldn't predict when I was safe and when I wasn't. There were some things, however, that were standing appointments.
He had a standing deal with other men for every Wednesday night. My dad posted ads of me online. I was expected to show up at the hotels that he had designated. He would meet me outside of the hotel where he would drug me; then we would go in. He would let men pay to have sex with me. Sometimes he would be in there and/or have someone recording it. When it was over he would take me back out to my car. A lot of times he would take my clothes. I would be drugged and naked and beat up just waiting to be sober enough to drive myself home.
Most Saturday nights I was expected to meet my dad somewhere as well. Usually it was somewhere like McDonalds. He would then proceed to drug me and put me in the toolbox of his truck. I guess he didn't want me to know where we were going. Saturday nights were little more than house parties for sex.
My dad would take me to different houses that were really big, and really nice. He would take me to the basement of these houses and leave me there. Sometimes I would be down there for a few hours; sometimes it would turn into days. Eventually, people would start showing up. Someone would bring a few other girls. They would break up into groups and take turns raping and hurting us. Sunday morning would come around and I would be in the basement alone again. I would usually wake up to my dad throwing clothes at me and telling me to clean up because it was time to go to church.
Sunday mornings were hell for me. He would make me go to church with him and at the end of the service he would make me go down and pray with the pastor. He wanted me to confess my sins to him and tell him how horrible and how much of a slut I was. I felt like death and I'm sure I looked that way too. I'm sure people stared, but I don't remember any of that. All I remember is being humiliated and feeling dirty and wanting to die. Sometimes he would make me take communion. He always seemed to want to remind me that I was responsible for the death of Jesus. He wanted to show me how horrible I was. He was always reminding me of my sins. And it was these sins of mine that he was punishing me for. He hurt me because he loved me and was trying to help me be good. All I ever wanted was to be good. This same type of party was how my dad celebrated my birthday and Valentine's Day every year as well.
Once a month or so my dad would bring me to a large city in a neighboring state. He took me there for an auction. It's hard for me to know how to write or talk about this and stay composed, but these are the facts: Several other girls and I would be forced to put on clothes and make-up that our "owners" wanted us to wear. We would be judged and given a score. Men would then bid on us to rent us for certain amounts of time. Whoever had paid for us would take us to a different room. At that point they were allowed to do whatever they wanted with our body for the allotted time they had paid for. Men could buy you and become your "owner;" your "owner" could also sell you. Your "owner" branded you so that everyone knew who you belonged to. I belonged to my dad and have the marks on my body that prove it. Some girls had more than one "owner," or had been sold, and thus had more than one brand.
KM: How did you deal emotionally and psychologically with all of this ongoing abuse?
Z: Experiencing the kind of thing I thought humans would be incapable of makes me internalize things more than I already do. What I mean is that all the noises I hear seem to come from within me somewhere. Heart beats and blood pumping and breathing, screaming that's only inside my head. I hear talking but it's as though the words are being filtered through water. When it's over you might think the relief would come, but it doesn't. You'd think I would be happy it was finished, but I never was. I wanted them to continue and hurt me until death came knocking. I didn't want them to stop until they had killed me. All I wanted was finality. That never came. I ultimately did try to commit suicide after I had slipped into an even darker place of depression. I stopped going to class in college. I stopped eating at all – I dropped down to like 85 pounds. I stopped talking to pretty much everyone; although, I didn't do much of that anyway. I knew there was a chance I would fail out of school. That was really scary because if I wasn't in school then I couldn't live in the dorms. If I wasn't living in the dorms I was homeless. I didn't have a job at that point because my scholarships were paying me to go to school. I also knew that my dad would flip his lid if and when he found out I dropped out. I knew there was a chance he would come get me and I would end up back in my hometown. I felt incapable fighting him on that. I needed a solution, and quickly. I wasn't, at first, thinking of suicide, but at some point that thought crossed my mind, and it never left me and I tried to overdose. God used that darkness, though, because I met a counselor through it who helped me immensely.
KM: Most people have read about the kind of controlling environment you experienced as common with traffickers and pimps. It seems like something related to Stockholm Syndrome.
Z: When I start talking about all these things that happened to me, I always end up asking myself why I didn't try to get out of it. Why did you just not go? Why didn't you just peace out of your dad's life? Why didn't you just run away? And I don't know the answers to those questions. I think I tried sometimes. I know that that was my intention with going away to college in the first place. I know that sometimes I wouldn't respond to my dad's phone calls and texts and I would choose not to show up at the hotels or wherever he wanted me to meet him. But none of my efforts mattered because he always found me. If he didn't find me that night, he found me the next day, or the next, and there was always a price to pay for being disobedient in that way. He would lock me in rooms for days with no food or water, or he would punish me physically in ways that I don't have words for. He would threaten my life, but I think he figured out I didn't care about that. He would threaten to hurt my mom or my dog or other people I loved. So for me it was always about deciding whether going or not going was the lesser evil. Usually it was going that ended in less pain for me and for the people I loved.