I often have conversations with women who are skeptical of After Hours Ministry, simply because we are a Christian organization. Most of these women have been abused and mis-treated by the church and Christians. So many who have GREAT intentions, but without fully understanding the psychological and psychosocial implications of having been in the game for so long, they make harsh and rash comments and assumptions about these precious women and “if they would only try harder” and “how could they possibly be in love with a man that treats them that way!” – they are comments that are meant in love, but come across very condescending and judgmental. When we make assumptions about someone else’s situation (thinking we know what they need, how they need it, or even that we fully understand their situation) we make them victims all over again and do not empower them to live their own story. We come across as someone only wanting relationship when they do things “our” way.
A few of these amazing women took the time to share with us a few things they wish people knew. Specifically, people who have a heart for the sexually exploited. If you have a heart to help women who are sexually exploited, and don’t want to do more harm than good, read this! It’ll help.
We want people to know how thankful we are for their willingness to help. We want them to know we are painfully aware we come with major trust issues! We are painfully aware we at times misunderstand what you are trying to say and how you are trying to help us. To us, at times, it may come across as you being over-bearing, taking control, or making us your new project for the year. We know we're blunt and most times come across uncaring, unresponsive, and extremely cold-hearted. But nothing could be further from the truth!
We listen to everything you say. If you have been one of the few we let in our lives and you have been consistent with us... we listen and rethink through what you say. We do not just disregard your input in our lives. But there are some things we want you to know. "We" are NOT speaking on behalf of all woman an men in the sex worker community. Some choose what we do. I will let someone else tackle that subject. We are speaking for us. There are 7 of us sitting here pouring our hearts out in hopes that if you work with sex workers, become friends with them and let them in your lives or if you’re going to work with us in the future, we want to help you understand some things about us.
First, most of us are not looking for “Captain Save-A-Ho” to save us. For a few of us here, we never even thought we needed help or saving. So the whole “let’s get them out!” “Let’s rescue them!” is not realistic. If we come to a point where we decide we want and need to get out of the life, we don't need rescue. Some of us sitting here have been "rescued" many times over only to have little to no support shortly after. Even when we go into the so called “Christian” safe houses/programs for help. Our experiences were not good. We needed more than forced Bible reading and chores. We needed life skills beyond GED. Some of us, most of us, need help learning how to live in a square world. Learning how to keep regular job hours and complete basic skills like banking, writing checks, etc. Some of us do not even know how to manage money. If our pimps/daddy's kept all our money and bought our food, clothes etc., then we were never able to go through the process of growing up and learning life skills that you never probably even thought about.
Speaking for two of us here, going to the doctor is traumatic in itsself. We always had our daddy take us or he would have one of the P-partners (runners) take us. They do all the talking! They make us look crazy. We are so nervous we will say the wrong thing and be disciplined when we get home that we just watch silently and rely on our daddy to give us ques when to talk and when to be quiet. They take over the appointment from the start. Most times we do not even go to the ER or Doctor for things you would rush to the doctor for. They also take us to many different hospitals in different counties under different names. If we get away from our daddy it can take years of going to the doctor to take care of our health. And most of the time our daddy's take all our government ID’s. So that’s another issue we have to deal with. We need a support system where if WE choose to go to ER or doctor we have someone who can drive us and go in with us IF that is what we choose. But if we don't we ask you to please be patient with us. We're trying. We are scared and feel helpless most of the time. At times it's easier to go back into The Game because we feel like they know us so well and we can't do life without their help.
If you become a part of our life and we start confiding in you, asking questions about God, please do not take it personal that we might be angry at him. It just pushes us away. Also, if you do answer questions please don't go into how we are being used and manipulated and how we need to be rescued from our horrible life. Or bring it up in other conversations. Some of us still love our daddy and it just makes us want to defend him. It shuts down any future dialog we may have. Even if we at times realize we need help or may be coming to realize some things are not what we thought, this is extremely hurtful and painful to us. We just need your support in just being there. And if and when we need to talk about some of this, please remember you may have seen and observed things all along that is all new to us. You don't have to have all the answers. Just be honest when we ask you things. We don't need you to fix us.
And if you make a mistake like we all do and accidentally hurt us our we get mad at each other. If you know your in the wrong. Say you’re sorry. We are so tired of well-meaning people who are there for us out of true love in their hearts not saying sorry. Just brushing over it like it’s no big deal. We know we misunderstand things. Some of us (well most of us here tonight!) are hot heads ready to fight! But I can tell you this, if we hurt you on accident, or god forbid on purpose, we will say sorry and do what it takes to change our behavior. It feels sometimes like the people who help us the most feel like they do so much for us that it’s okay not to take responsibility for their actions. It’s as if they think they don’t need to because of all they do. It's not okay. And please stop blaming our trust issues or other issues we may have from on-going mental, physical and sexual abuse on the break-down of the relationship. We know this is a factor in things but it's not always just us. You may have things you need to work on too. (and that's okay). When you don't take responsibility for what you do and brush us off or don’t say sorry. Or blame it all on our issues, it’s just like our daddies do! You end up doing to us the same damn thing as our pimps!
We need you to know that we have tried. And some of us here tonight are still trying and a few of us have given up and decided to go back to the life. If you really love us and care as some have told us. Just please don't take it personal as if it’s a failure on your part. We remember everything some of you have done and are doing for us. And it does not mean our minds may not change in future. I wish I could tell you why we do what we do. Why we go back or why we still love and defend these men. We can't.. we don’t even get it. It's a whole other level of pain we can't even put into words.