Just as I wanted to tell you about Veronique, I want to tell you about Marta and Guadalupe.
If you’re new around here, I will have to first tell you that my father was a sex trafficker, that he trafficked me for sex from the time I was toddler me until I was a teenager. I’m sorry to have to share that with you, but there it is. Life is sometimes an ugly place. And I’ve seen a lot of the worst ugliness in it.
I was never alone. Just as Veronique performed with me in pornographic films when I was a young teenager, Marta and Guadelupe were there when I was wearing headbands and black patent leather shoes and learning how to skip rope.
We couldn’t speak. Having been smuggled into the country from Mexico or places southward, they didn’t speak English. I didn’t speak Spanish. But in the summers, when we solicited for men at the Travelodge pool, they swam with me. When the washer broke in the house my dad kept them in and he went to fix it himself (being that kind of handy guy), I played with them and their broken truck in the dirt in the yard. As an adult, it has made listening to languages I don’t understand a peculiar comfort. But it also overwhelms me with sadness to think of them.
They weren’t there for very long. A few weeks, maybe a few months. I remember Marta and Lupe the best, but there were others. Always others, as one set of girls disappeared and another took their place.
I have a vision of a warehouse in which girls like Marta and Lupe, dirty and hungry and crying, are kept in large cages, like dogs. Maybe that’s where I imagined they came from. Maybe it’s something I really saw. It would be a bizarre thing to have seen, but I’ve heard of stranger things.
But what it evokes for me is the immensity of the suffering of the girls smuggled into the country and then brutalized by men like my dad. It makes me aware of my own privilege. After all, I went to school. I was allowed contact with the outside world, which gave me other resources to draw upon beyond the depraved world of sex trafficking. I spoke the language of power in this country. And I escaped.
Did Marta? Did Lupe, with her long braid and quiet smile, even stand half a chance? I hope they did. I really do. I’m afraid they didn’t.
God, do you love us at all? Why do you allow us to do these things to one another? Where were you when we needed you? Where are you now?