Once when I was 11, I was so sick my grandma kept me home from school. I had a fever of 101.3 and I was throwing up, so my grandma took me to the doctor. The doctor told me and my grandma after some tests that I had an STD. The look on my grandma’s face told me that, whatever it was, it was bad. Back then, I didn’t have a cell phone to Google it, so I waited until I was better and went to school to ask my teacher what it was.
She told me it meant I had a disease from sex and I shouldn’t have sex with too many people.
I remember the look she had in her eyes. It told me I was dirty and bad. I went home and tried to clean myself. I wanted to prove to my teacher that I was worthy of her attention, time, and love. School was a safe haven for me. School was the only place I felt safe, or at least safe enough to be a kid, so to have my teacher think I was bad or dirty broke my heart.
Looking back, I wish my teacher had asked the right questions or knew the signs of kids being trafficked, but she didn’t. I think it’s important that educators are trained to spot victims of trafficking.
The same is true for medical professionals. I had many encounters with doctors and nurses during my trafficking. Sometimes the signs were there, other times I told them I was being trafficked. When I did tell them, their responses pushed me further away. Their faces told me they were upset with me. Or they would ask invasive questions that I couldn’t answer. Sometimes they even called the police and I was arrested for prostitution! An 11 year old, arrested for prostitution. I was a CHILD. All the more reason training for educators, medical professionals, and law enforcement is SO important.