Two Sides Of A City
I've seen two sides of a city.
I've seen a city come alive as they prepare to host one of the biggest sporting events of the year. Everything and everyone is buzzing with excitement, and it makes you proud to call that city home.
I've also seen a city become a breeding ground for some of the most atrocious crimes committed against other humans. A city that welcomes in people from all over the country. A city that maxes out its hotels, restaurants, stores, to accommodate the traffic. A city that increases the demands on its workers, both legal and illegal, paid and unpaid.
For example, a woman you see on the street corner as you head down town to the stadium. She is, by all stereotypes, a drugged out prostitute. You see her long nails, sparkly mini skirt and missing teeth and feel comfortable writing her off as someone unworthy of your concerns. What you haven't seen, though, is the 20 years this woman has been out here, long before she was ever able to consent to do so. A child who knew nothing but abuse and drugs and surviving. A child forced to sell her body day in and day out. A child that turned 18, who is now a criminal. A whore by some stereotypes. And all the hustle and bustle of the majestic sporting event has only increased the demands her pimp puts on her. Her quota for the night doubles, if not triples because the opportunity for income increased so drastically with the influx of fans. So, the nightmare she has known nearly her whole life intensifies, while the rest of the city celebrates.
I’ve seen the city return to normal, slow its pace back down after all the hype. The out of towners head back, work resumes, and life goes on as usual.
But not for her. This isn’t just her life when major sporting events come to town. It doesn’t stop when the sporting event is over and all the out-of-towners leave. This is her life every day. And not just hers. It’s the life of so many children, boys and girls, of so many ages. It’s the life of so many women and men, who were sucked in with false promises and a charade of love. There are so many ways traffickers lure their victims.
So, what can we do? At FCC, we can offer victims somewhere safe to sleep. We can meet with them, validate them, and provide a safe place where they aren’t judged. We can refer them to drug and alcohol rehab to fight the addictions forced on them, just to survive. We can refer them to a trauma therapist they can meet with for free. We can get them into a GED program and start working with them on financial literacy and self-sufficiency. We can never undo what has happened to any of them. We can't take back the first part of their lives that was supposed to provide love and guidance and opportunity. But we can start now and we can walk alongside them every day.