Editor's note: Many people often don't understand when a recovered trafficking survivor struggles in her life of freedom...the ups and downs; missing the trafficker; the return to the only life they remember, etc. The healing journey is a long process, to say the least, and one that must be met with patience and understanding for those working with survivors.
Healing is a journey
By: Wendy Barnes
My rescue from him came in the form of being put in prison for almost two years. Don’t feel bad for me, it was truly a blessing. I was blessed to have a good parole officer for the first year after being released from prison and many good correction counselors that helped me heal from my life. Still, healing from fifteen years of torture and pain and learning how to build a life for myself is a life long journey.
In 2005, I had been out of ‘the life’ for six years and had been out of prison for four years. I still didn't feel ‘normal’. I constantly felt different from everyone else and wondered if there were any others like me. I reached out to an organization that helped survivors and asked if there was anything I could do to help. Secretly, I just wanted to know that I wasn't the only one in the world who had been through the things I had been through. I wanted to talk with others who didn't feel normal even after being free from their pimp and that life. I wondered if others went through the same emotional roller coasters and never ending emotional healing.
The lady who ran the organization said that she would keep her eye out for simple things for me to do. One day, the woman who ran the organization called me and told me of a girl that had made many calls to her. She went on to tell me that the girl was safe from her pimp, that she had been away from him for about a year and a half and she just needed someone to talk to and listen to her. I was more than happy to help and gave my permission for her to give this girl my telephone number. The lady from the organization added some information and a slight warning;
“Wendy, the things this girl has told me, your stories sound very similar. I think you would be really good for her. I also want you to be very careful. There are times that I wonder if she may be a little ‘off’ or have other mental issues. I just want you to be careful and to not get too close in case she has more serious issues than just being trafficked.”
I heeded her warning and waited for this girl to call me so I could listen to her and try and help however that may be.
When the phone call came, I was nervous. She started telling me her story and I kept asking her the name of her pimp, because the things we had been through and the things that our pimps had said were exactly the same. I could not imagine another human being like my pimp being out there in the world. As we continued to talk, she told me how there were times that she still felt love for him and wanted to go back to that life. She told me of her outrageous feelings and thoughts and I quickly determined that she was crazy; just as crazy as I was in my first two years of getting out of the life.
We continued to talk and laugh at our lives and the healing process. I was reassured that I was not crazy, but that we were going through similar experiences in the healing journey. While the process may never end, neither of us was ‘crazy’ in the terms that others may have defined us as. I was able to honestly reassure her that what she was going through would end and another chapter of the healing process would begin. I can reassure other survivors that it does get easier and reassure those who are helping a survivor to heal that we are not crazy, but healing from trauma that most can never understand.
Wendy's book "And Life Continues" is in the publishing process. To learn more, please visit her facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/And-Life-Continues/160265660829910