This is part four of the "Chasing Joy" blog series that will take you through the journey of one family to rescue their daughter, and walk alongside her in her healing journey.
During the time “Joy” was being trafficked, I would occasionally reach out to her on Facebook Messenger in hope she would respond. I was desperate to hear from her; for her to say she loved me, ask for help, anything. 99% of the time she ignored me. She had blocked our family and myself on FB but she was still “friends” with some of my friends. They gave me their facebook account passwords and I would spend my evenings with a bottle (or three) of wine and my laptop; trying to figure out where my daughter was. I became obsessed with knowing who, what, where, when, how...HOW?! How did this happen? I blamed myself -- it must have been because I was a horrible parent, because I had been a single parent, or maybe because our family was now blended. I didn’t know the answer but I grasped for any potential “why”.
I begged her to meet me one more time. I knew time was running out; I just didn’t know if it was my time or hers. Which one of us would be gone first? She agreed to see me for lunch. We met at a restaurant next to a hotel where she “stayed the night”. She walked there; her hair wet, clothes skimpy, covered in new tattoos I had never seen. Joy had been branded. She insisted on buying my lunch, but I knew her money was not legit. After all, she was “engaged” to a man at least 15 years older than her. She was still a teen at the time. He promised her all the things and she believed him and was trafficked in return. He was back in county jail while Joy and “others” were depositing money into his bank account. This was plastered all over her FB. The District Attorney later told me that they had been trying to bust this guy for years. They would pick him up for other things but couldn’t nail him for trafficking.
After lunch, I begged her to come home with me. She said no and I knew better than to drive her the 50 miles home against her will; she would only leave again.
What she didn’t know is I had brought the gun we kept for self-protection and had it in the trunk of my car. I didn’t know who I would run into while meeting her; but, if I’m honest, I really needed to see my daughter one more time before I took my own life. I didn’t want to live anymore; it was too painful. I loved her so much and it KILLED me to know she was falling for this and was so loyal to a man who was destroying her life. It almost destroyed my life, my marriage, and my family.
I felt devastated and empty. It’s embarrassing to say now, but it didn’t matter that I had two other children. All I could focus on was what I had LOST: my young, beautiful daughter. My oldest daughter was getting married and yet I couldn’t focus on helping her. I worried about the fact that her sister wasn’t invited to the wedding. How could this be? I raised two daughters who were close until high school. Do you know how hard it is to hire security at your daughter’s wedding? To prepare for the chance that her sister would show up, un-invited, un-announced? But I couldn’t let her ruin her sisters’ day. She didn’t show for the wedding and it was a beautiful day.
There is a saying “you can only be has happy as your saddest child.” TRUTH.