Statistic: More than 100,000 children are sold for sex each year in the United States. – ECPAT-USA
FACT: PORNOGRAPHY IS CONNECTED TO HUMAN SEX TRAFFICKING
As the President and Founder of Road to Purity, I can personally attest, first-hand, to the link between pornography and sex trafficking. In my 30 years as a sex addict, I was not only involved in pornography, but massage parlors and prostitution, as well. I have spent the last 12-plus years in recovery and over 5 of those with the Road to Purity apostolate. During that time, I can see from the work and various research that I encountered how what I saw and what I participated in, during my 30 years as an addict was, albeit unknowingly in many cases, related to sex trafficking. I commonly see stories and reports of porn actresses that I recognize from the past who were involved in trafficking scenarios. I also look back at what I have learned about how trafficking victims are introduced into massage parlors, and I suspect that some of my visits may have been, in fact, to a trafficked victim.
A commonly unknown fact is that pornography is not only addictive, but is also progressive in nature. As is all too common, porn users will eventually advance to the need for physical expression of their addictive craving. This is most commonly exhibited in the visiting of massage parlors and/or prostitutes. As a recovering addict, I can personally attest to this fact.
The literal explosion of the porn industry since the introduction of smart phones, high speed internet, and streaming video, has led to an equal explosion of the massage parlor industry and of the prostitution industry. Essentially, pornography is a dress rehearsal for prostitution. This fact is demonstrated in the estimated 9,000 illicit massage parlors and over 1 million prostitutes in the United States, alone! Anyone who knows anything about business and marketing can see this is simply a matter of supply to meet the demand. The demand driven by pornography.
During this 9-day Novena, Road to Purity will attempt to educate you on the facts, the truths, and the connection between pornography and human sex trafficking. After Day 9 of the Novena, we will include an extensive list of links to the resources that we know of and have utilized to present some of the data to you over the nine days. You can use these links as a starting point to do your own research if you wish.
Originally from a small town near Fort Worth, Texas, Brittany had a "normal, great" childhood: She came from a loving, two-parent home, was a member of student council, played sports, and went to her church's youth group regularly.
When she turned 18, she had an argument with her parents about a man she wanted to date, and they grounded her.
“That day I told myself, ‘Tomorrow, I’m running away,’ " Brittany recalled. "While they were gone at work, I literally just threw everything in a trash bag and hitched a ride."
She tried to make it on her own and spent several weeks bouncing among her friends' apartments until she found herself without a place to stay. That was when one of her friends told her he had a cousin in Las Vegas who could help her make money by going on "dates."
She thought her friend meant "normal people dates"— going to the movies or out to dinner— but when she arrived in Vegas, she found the cousin expected her to become part of an escort service.
Finding herself doing unspeakable things to survive, she spent only four days in Vegas before she boarded a Greyhound bus back home.
On that bus, she met the man who would become her trafficker—and ultimately the father of her child.
Brittany said she felt drawn to his aura of wisdom, confidence, and charm despite the fact that he was 20 years older than she was. The "instant connection" she felt deepened as they rode the bus together and talked. She agreed when he asked her to get off with him in Dallas.
He took her to a hotel room, where he showed her how to post online ads on Backpage.com, a website used frequently to advertise prostitution services. She had come to see him as her "boyfriend" and wanted to make him happy, so she did what he asked her to do. She started answering "calls" and turned all the money she made over to him.
Brittany thought she would be with him forever—even after police arrested her during a California sting operation and told her she was being pimped. She refused to tell the police anything.
She went to jail for a night. So did her trafficker. Then they met back at the hotel room, packed their belongings and fled from Dallas. Her trafficker promised her things would get better.
But Brittany was starting to realize the fairy tale wasn’t going to last.
“It felt like things just kept happening," she said. "He was still promising me these dreams of ‘It’s going to be okay; it’s not always going to be like this, just keep fighting, we’ll get out of this.' Nothing was coming through.”
Soon after they returned to Dallas, Brittany found out she was pregnant. She was elated. She had talked to her trafficker about wanting to be a mom and having a family with him, and he had said they could when the time was right.
“I thought this would make it stop faster, that I wouldn't have to do these things if I was pregnant," she said. "I kept thinking that this relationship was going to turn into a normal one, that eventually we would turn into a normal family."
Her illusions shattered one day when her pimp got angry over a comment, she had made against him wanting to "get more girls." She said there had been instances of abuse in their relationship along the way, but he had never punched her. That night, he punched her in the face. Repeatedly.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen. A guy had never hit me like that before,” Brittany said. “During all that, I heard a voice tell me, ‘It’s about to get bad. It’s about to get really bad.' But I wasn't going to go to the police, because he had made me think the police were against me.”
Back at the hotel room, she apologized to her trafficker for upsetting him. Then they went to sleep. The next morning, he said he was going to do laundry and left the room. A few seconds later, Brittany heard a knock on the door.
“I swung the door open, thinking it was him,” she said, “and it was my dad. My real dad.”
Her trafficker let her go, promising he would come pick her up from wherever her parents took her.
But Brittany's parents set her up with the Purchased program in Shreveport — starting her on a year-long journey to recovery through classes, counseling, and living in a recovery home.
Brittany said the most helpful class taught her about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs — among them that every human being needs safety, love, and belonging — and about how she had been manipulated by her trafficker's promises to meet those needs.
She is now a house mom in one of Shreveport's three safe houses for women coming out of prostitution and trafficking and works with women in the final stages of the Purchased recovery program — those who are almost ready to transition back to society.
It’s difficult for the 21 year old to balance her responsibilities as a house mom and a "real mom" to her 2-year-old daughter, but Brittany wants to dedicate her life to helping other women get out of the life.
“I want my life to be about really helping these women and advocating for them," she said. "I want to let them know that life can be different." She also wants to make sure her daughter won’t be endangered by the drug-dealing or the violence of her former pimp.
“It took me years to realize the depth of what had happened to me. To this day I wish I could have a family with him, that my daughter could know her dad, but it’s not for the best,” she said. “My daughter changed me. It made me realize I have to do this the right way. She deserves it as much as I do.”
Story originally published in the Shreveport Times