I don’t really know what would help with this. I’m thinking about this, and something inside says blanket. So I hug the blanket for a while. I play Russian lullabies. I find a Russian Christmas carol and that helps too.

I doesn’t really help enough. I am not okay, but I think less about ways to die. It almost takes the edge off.

It takes the edge off enough that I can begin to think about how it felt to be a child that was trafficked, whose life was nearly invisible and certainly silent to most of society.

We have a habit of being shocked at the exploitation of childhood. It is okay to be shocked, but you should realize the child is one step ahead ahead. You should realize the child moved beyond shock a long time ago, and when you are only shocked you cannot see the child’s real experience. You are only seeing your own. And it’s not that you shouldn’t be shocked—it is shocking. It’s not that you shouldn’t see it as wrong—which does much the same thing, because the child no longer cares whether it is right or wrong. It’s that you need to move beyond that.

I say “you,” but I do not mean you, the reader.

I mean people you might know.

I mean the news journals. I mean conversation over coffee. I mean everything I ever heard about anything even marginally related to my life when I was growing up. Everyone was shocked.

Everyone remained shocked.

No one ever considered what life was like for me. For me, who did not have the luxury of remaining shocked by it. Who did not have the luxury of making moral distinctions. Who just had to get through it.

Who had to get through it by making some accommodations. By accepting that it did happen. That it was going to happen. That I had no value to anyone beyond what I could do—either to the pimp who earned a profit from me or to a society who never took the time to listen or even think about what being trafficked is like for the child who has to live that way.

It is only now that I am not a child, that I have more power and my life is more manageable, that anyone cares. It is only now that I seem to have any value.

Don’t ever tell me what I’m worth. When I needed to be worth something, I was worth nothing to nearly everyone.

Understand that it is what it means to be trafficked. It is not just the pimps who place no value on you, and not just the johns, but nearly everyone. Because no one cares. The industry doesn’t care that you are being hurt, and everyone else doesn’t care to listen to what it is like to be hurt in that way.

As a trafficked child, I had no rights. I had no voice either. There was no one to hear me. There is no one who might have actually helped.

They would have been shocked.

They would have said, “Are you sure?”

They would have made things worse.

And the only one who tried to help was another trafficked child.

And this is what I didn’t get to say.