For many survivors of human trafficking, the hidden wounds and the internal scars caused by the abuse and exploitation they suffered act as a protection from further abuse by closing them off to full interaction with themselves and others. Tajuan McCarty, survivor leader and advocate, speaks frankly here about her own struggles and how she is finding deep healing and restoration.
I ran away at 12 for the first time. I was vulnerable. I was a child looking for love, security, or just something different and reacting to life’s ugliness.
I ran away when I was 15, by then I had perfected it, or so I thought. I was even more vulnerable. The sexual abuse had started, what child can “consent” to sex at such a young age? None. This time I was hungry, tired, needed a shower, needed a place to sleep, needed security…he found me in this state and took advantage of my vulnerability. He began to sell me. Then later he traded me to another pimp. This was the beginning of many years of being bought, sold, drugged, kidnapped, tortured and horrifically abused. I was vulnerable.
Being vulnerable is viewed as being weak, submissive, not in control and being a doormat to others. Life is showing me this is not the case. Because of my past, my definition of vulnerability was skewed.
Yes, I was a vulnerable as a child and needed to be protected. No one protected me so I learned to protect myself. I built almost insurmountable walls inside of myself, inside of my mind, surrounding my heart and I made sure I was safe. Regardless of the consequences, I protected me. I VOWED I WOULD NOT BE VULNERABLE AGAIN.
I promised myself I would not let someone, anyone hurt me like that ever again. I did not let others close to me, I’d cut them off if I thought they were trying, and made sure I was safe. I didn’t know what I was missing out on.
I began intensive counseling several years ago. I walked in with a sense of “we don’t need to talk about this or that, God has healed me in those areas” and I didn’t talk about those things for over a year. I didn’t embrace my childhood vulnerability, and so I couldn’t embrace what it means to be a vulnerable woman. Once we opened the doors to some of my childhood, I began to see things a little differently.
It is not fair that I learned to read on the back of my father’s prison uniform at 18 months old. It is not fair my earliest memories are visiting him or him spanking me. It is not fair my mother beat me with a belt, nude and thought it was “ok”. It is not fair I was sexually abused. But God didn’t promise life would be fair, He promised we wouldn’t have more than we could bear and He would give us a way out.
Embracing my womanhood and the beautiful gift of vulnerability is my way out…or rather my way to full healing.
I have a relationship with Jesus Christ that is like nothing I have ever known before. He loves me and commands me to love. Early in my walk with Him I said this was ok with me, I can love others deeply and I could STILL protect myself. The more I walk with Him, the more this concept changes. I cannot deeply love without being deeply loved.
Vulnerability means I can open my heart and allow others to love me. Will I get hurt? Probably. Most likely. Definitely. But what about the things I miss out on if I don’t open my heart? I miss out on my kids confiding in me, laughing with me and learning to love because of me. I miss out on getting to a deeper level with my sisters in Christ and friends. I miss out on true friendship. And what about that man that God intended for me? If I don’t let myself be vulnerable to him, how can I experience the love God intended between a man and a woman. How can I know what it means to wake up next to that person I am supposed to be with for the rest of my life, knowing he is going to be there everyday if I don’t allow myself to become vulnerable to him and for him?
Embracing vulnerability; one of the most difficult things I am doing, but imperative for further healing from the years of abuse. I want to be loved deeply. I want to love deeply. For this to happen, vulnerability is required.
Survivor Being Healed
Executive DirectorThe WellHouse