Recently, it was World Day Against Sex Trafficking.
I knew I had to somehow speak out.
I have been hesitant to write, but I feel that my story has a purpose, and if I can help just one person, I am willing to make myself uncomfortable if it means helping. Also being a mommy to four precious little boys takes up every moment of my days.
It’s late tonight, but here I am.
This is vulnerable.
This is raw.
This is uncomfortable.
This is a trigger.
This is lengthy.
But stick with me till the end, because there is HOPE.
I was four years old the very first time I heard the word “sex.”
My mom was at work and her boyfriend watched me for her. He had a degree and worked as a nurse at the local hospital. He was hardworking with his job, he sang karaoke at the local bar, and his charismatic nature swept everyone off of their feet. Not to mention he was handsome which deceived many that blindly followed.
I suppose my mother trusted him within those factors and felt safe considering we were living in a nice little single-wide trailer beside her parents’ property. So my grandparents were right next door and naturally, I felt safe too.
Until that one day my innocence would never return.
It doesn’t take much for life to change in an instant.
One convincing conversation can change the course of a little girl’s life.
He sat on the couch and he asked me to sit on the floor beside him. I remember feeling weird and confused as to why he wanted me to sit there. But I did it anyway. Maybe it made him feel an even greater sense of superiority?
In that moment, he began telling me how sex worked. He went into vivid detail.
I knew at the tiny age of four that something was very wrong. Although I didn’t understand what he was talking about, I knew that it made me very uncomfortable.
Later that day, he grabbed me in his arms and with tears in his eyes carried me across the yard to my grandparents’ house and left me with them.
I can still remember the way the rain smelled as it hit his black leather jacket.
I don’t know why he was crying.
I don’t remember it all.
But somehow I felt empathy for him.
My time with him was very short and blurry.
In my heart, I feel like something happened but my memory is so hazy. My mind is blurred and I personally believe that in God’s love and mercy, He has spared me the full memory of that time.
A few years ago, learned that he was sentenced to life in prison for storing uncountable videos and photos of horrible sexual acts that had been done to children. Some included photos of random toddlers at the beach with their mothers with the camera zoomed in on their private areas. (Parents, GUARD your children. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.) He had also served a long time in jail for rape prior to being sentenced to life. Thankfully, justice was served, but it can still never erase the trauma that was inflicted upon those precious souls.
I pray those children somehow have peace today. I pray for their healing.
The next year I would be five, and getting ready to be a kindergartner. Most kids are getting excited to meet new friends and are usually stressing if they have the coolest cartoon character backpack. As for me, I was carrying a heavy load of shame that weighed me down far greater than any backpack ever could.
See just that summer I had gone with my mom to her friend’s house that had a lot of kids.
One day while our moms were talking we were in the next bedroom and I discovered they were highly educated on this new word I had learned, “sex.” I’m not sure where they got all of their info but they didn’t hesitate not only talking with me about it, but they showed me everything with their bodies.
I’m not really sure where the adults were but we had most of the days and nights to ourselves because the older siblings who were teens were there, too.
It felt like hours upon hours of torture.
I couldn’t stand to be unclothed for that long.
I just wanted to leave that what felt like a haunted house.
They were only a few years older than me, and although we were young kids . . .
I felt bullied.
I felt violated.
I felt sick.
I felt ashamed.
I felt afraid.
Now that I’m older, I’ve realized that the spirit of Satan would love nothing more than to destroy anyone he can get his hands on.
He will use any situation to rob us.
He will use our shame to turn us away from God.
I didn’t want to tell my mom what had happened.
I didn’t want to talk to God. But I knew he had seen.
I surely thought I would be in trouble if I told.
I hate to give the devil any glory but whoever planted that seed of fear in my little heart and mind sure did a profound job.
If fear is in it, then satan is in it.
There were times my grandma on my dad’s side would keep me.
My parents were divorced and she knew I stayed at a lot of their friends’ houses, so out of her love and concern for me we had a lot of healthy and needed conversations.
In her best way, she cautioned me that it was NOT OK for anyone to ever put their hands on my body. She would tell me that MY body was MINE. No one else’s.
If only she knew it was too late.
She made me promise to tell her if anyone were to ever try.
She even caught me off guard and asked me one day.
“Amber, has anyone ever touched you?”
Oh, how I wanted to tell her.
I wanted this nightmare of guilt and condemnation to end.
But I wasn’t strong enough.
So I lied to her.
“No Grandma.” Then I’d change the subject swiftly to avoid the racing in my heart.
So for years, I carried the weight of that summer like an elephant on my chest.
I lost all my joy.
At the age of 10, I was nearly kidnapped.
My friend, who was 14 at the time, was with me and my dad. We were eating at a restaurant and, of course, this was before cell phones and YouTube where you can demand Siri or Alexa to find your favorite song, and in a hurry.
My dad was waiting for the waitress to give him his change so he could leave a tip, and we begged him to go to the car so we could listen to the radio. He was parked near the front door so he agreed and we hugged him with excitement praying we would catch *NSYNC or the Backstreet Boys. We weren’t picky.
We hadn’t been sitting there long and there came a man knocking on my door.
He asked me to roll down my window and kept saying he knew my aunt. She said it was OK for me to talk to him. I almost fell for his plan, but something held my hand back. He tried to get his hand through the cracks of my window.
So I tried so hard to ignore him.
I just kept locking the door over and over and eventually, he went and sat down in his car which was parked right next to ours.
He kept talking to me from his window begging me to get in the car with him.
I was shaking in fear. So I panicked and didn’t think it through. When he was quiet and not looking, I ran as fast as I could out of the car and into the front door of the restaurant.
I ran to my dad and told him everything.
My poor friend was still in the car (I’m sorry for leaving her) but I knew I had to get help.
My dad came outside and to keep this story very short, let’s just say he knocked the guy’s lights out and the police came and put that evil man in jail.
My dad also went to jail for disturbing the peace at the parking lot of a business.
But hey, he saved my LIFE. He spent one night in jail for me. But It’s a story of my rescue!
I sometimes think, what if I would have gotten in the car with that man?
Would I have been kidnapped?
Would I be alive?
Would I have been raped?
Let’s fast forward to age 13.
I was in the 8th grade sitting in math class. I went to the hall to get a sip of water and a 7th grade teacher was walking by. He told me I was so beautiful and asked me if I’d like to be his model. I could come by his house and take pictures. He made it sound so convincing. What he didn’t know was that it was my dream to be a model. But once again something in my heart knew it sounded fishy. He said he was a photographer for children.
I told him I’d let him know and so I went back to class. That night at supper I told my grandma what had happened. She insisted that I tell my teacher. So I did. Then the principal got involved. Next thing I know the police are at my home and I had to give three different forms of my story. Written, verbal, and recorded. I was traumatized. I even felt bad, thinking maybe this guy really wasn’t bad after all. Maybe he was telling me the truth. It was all too much for me to absorb. I began to think I had made a mistake.
But not long after that night, he went through much investigation. The police informed my grandma he had been fired from his job as a teacher at my school and he had been guilty of attempting to lure other children into his home. He was not a “professional” photographer like he had expressed. I won’t go into greater detail for privacy purposes.
Ages 14 and 15, I was harassed by my boyfriend daily and pressured into many bad situations. (If you’d like to read that story of how I kept the bracelet he gave to me in remembrance of where God has brought me from, click here.)
There is so much more that has happened to me. So many have tried to rip away at my innocence. So many disappointments. So many close calls. God has protected me in so many ways. I have saved those stories in my autobiography that is in the process of being edited and published. 2020 has thrown a few setbacks at the process but that is OK. I am still moving forward with it and will get my book into the hands of people who need to read it as soon as I am able to.
What happened to me is WRONG.
It should never happen to children.
We live in a fallen world.
It BREAKS my heart that children carry this weight.
If you are a parent please, please have healthy conversations with them about safety.
For heaven’s sake don’t give them a cell phone until they are driving. Aapps have hidden pedophiles that can lure them away, too.
Please choose who they are around WISELY.
And then the sad truth is you still can’t trust everyone.
Pray over them.
Ask for God’s protection over them.
I have never been bought or trafficked.
I have never been kidnapped.
I have never been sold to another country for another’s sexual gain.
I’d like to imagine we have shared the same symptoms though.
I speak of my own life.
My own story, in hopes to prevent it from happening to someone else. Even if it’s one life.
One life is valuable.
It’s even more valuable to the ONE who created it, and the ONE who died for it!
His name is Jesus.
I have been redeemed.
I have been made new.
I have been through a lot, but somehow made it through!
I have a beautiful life now.
A WONDERFUL husband. A family!
If you have been a victim of any form of sexual abuse or trafficking, can I tell you there is healing?
If you are afraid to speak out please don’t be.
There are people who love you and would protect you with every fiber in them!
If you struggle with the trauma of yesterday I won’t promise you it’ll be easy, but there is freedom!
It’s a journey, my friend.
I’m still healing.
I’m still growing.
I’m still learning.
It’s OK to cry.
It’s OK to grieve what was lost.
It’s OK to share with others.
That’s where we also find healing and we learn that we are NOT alone.
It’s OK to let Jesus hold you.
He won’t force himself upon you.
He’s a gentleman.
He won’t force you to do anything you don’t want to do.
But he lets you give him PERMISSION to hold you.
One more thing—I used to be bitter about my story.
I was angry that it happened.
But I had to forgive others.
I had to let go of what I thought my life was supposed to be like.
Forgiveness is what frees us.
Forgive those who hurt you. Forgive yourself for the shame. Forgive God if you have any bad feelings for him not stopping it.
If this can help anyone please share my story.
Please if you suspect anything, rescue them.
Always listen to your gut.