(This article first appeared in the July 2014 print version of the Whole Living Journal and is reprinted here with permission. A radio interview by Tara Robinson, Editor of the Whole Living Journal, took place in May of this year)
I can remember the first time I heard about human bondage. It was in 1987 when I was working as a new counselor in Park Cities near Highland Park, a Dallas community I call "The Malibu of Texas." An extremely bright, middle aged client, with a successful career as a lawyer, began weeping in a hysterical panic. Shaking and covering her face, she said in a child's voice, "And, and, and...he put a loaded gun in my vagina and said he would kill me if I screamed or told anyone." At that moment the oppressed scream from 45 years earlier emerged with so much childlike angst I had to concentrate in order to suppress the urge to burst into tears along with her.
A few months before, Renee Fredrickson, PhD, the co- owner of the counseling center where I worked, had warned me that I would hear about bondage. As she spoke, my mind drifted to consensual adult pseudo-sadomasochism. Renee, sensing that I had missed the point, looked me in the eye and said, "Of children." I swallowed and said quietly, "Oh." Even then I truly had no idea what she meant.
How can it be that one of the most wealthy, prestigious, "proper" Christian neighborhoods in the world harbors this kind of criminal activity outside our sight and awareness?
And what does bondage mean when it involves the mind, not just the body? In the book Incest-Related Syndromes of Adult Psychotherapy
Dr. Richard Kluft reveals a conversation he had while he was a young soldier stationed in Italy with a man in a bar who revealed to Richard that he was a pimp. The pimp volunteered, in a braggart sort of way, that the best prostitutes, like the two sitting with him, had been initiated to the world of sex by their fathers.
Yes, this is very shocking, but in fact, research supports the pimp's comment. The large majority of prostitutes, as many as 80%, were sexually abused as young children, not necessarily by their fathers, but by a much older and often trusted person. Even without physical restraints, the mental bondage of early childhood sexual abuse enslaves the mind.
Many prostitutes acknowledge that the early abuse has restricted their life choices but they do not feel as if they have alternative options to prostitution due to such correlational problems as lack of education, self-esteem, early pregnancy, poverty or addiction.
I have heard prostitutes, a few were my clients, vehemently deny that prostitution as a career choice was associated with their early childhood abuse. Once, a very sophisticated call girl, when disclosing her profession for the first time, explained to me, insisted really, that she was in charge, not the Johns. While she was speaking, I could not help but notice the lack of congruence between her words and dress. She wore tiny pink plastic little girl barrettes in her hair, black patent Mary Jane shoes that pointed inward as she fidgeted and a plunging and very revealing buxom decolletage.
The chains of her early trauma seemed to have kept her mind stuck in childhood even though her body was aging. If this is so, then how is prostitution a choice? The long-term effects of early childhood sexual abuse, which happens long before the body, mind, and hormones are ready to be sexual, limits an adults' capacity for choice and undermines escape as if time has warped and stood still at age five. This is why crimes against children can happen and adults can become victims of human slavery and we do not see it. The prison bars of the mind are invisible, but more powerful than steel.
According to the Director of Homeland Security in Ventura County California (2013), San Diego now has the worst human slavery problem of any city in the world.
In the United States, the human slavery problem is the second fastest growing illegal industry in our country. It is easy to dismiss this statistic as an issue of children and women from the other side of the US border, but in fact about 70 percent of the victims were born in the United States.
According to the Global Slavery Index there are 29.8 million people enslaved in some form of bondage around the world. Government statistics are clear that victims come from all socio-economic groups, so education, wealth, and privilege do not always provide the protection we wish for our children.
If one person is enslaved then, morally and spiritually, none of us are free.
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Court Watcher, Child Advocate
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