We were in Vegas this past week where we went to car museums, the drag races, a car show, saw shows, and ate amazing meals. But, I saw more than that.
While at the car show (the largest in the world) I saw two peddlers outside of the convention center shoving flip cards in men's faces as they walked by trying to get them to take the images of scantily clad women. I watched man after man turn them down and keep walking. I watched the two peddlers motion to my friends and me, and grumble, saying that none of the men were going to take the cards while we women were standing there. In the past, I would have never thought twice other than that normal "ick" feeling. I would have thought that's just Vegas and moved on. But, I know too much now. I knew that 200,000 men had come to Vegas for a car show which meant that countless girls had been brought to town specifically for that reason. And my stomach sunk.
I saw Her. She walked in and sat down at a bar with two men at least 40 years older than her. Both dressed to the nines in flashy dress shirts, pants and loafers, white hair slicked back, and ready for a night out on the town. One pulled a chair out for her and placed her in it while the other pulled a chair next to her. She fidgeted with her short tight black lace dress and crossed and uncrossed her worn flip flops. She smoothed her unnaturally red hair with her chipped manicure clad hand as she nervously looked back and forth over her shoulder. The man standing, rubbing both of her shoulders asked what she wanted to drink, but she never responded. Instead, she chewed her fingernails, smoothed her hair, and darted her eyes back and forth watching the bartender. The two men asked Her again what she wanted to drink as the one standing squeezed her shoulders, leaned in, and with a denture baring grin told her "You've got two guys tonight, you should probably go with Tequila!" While the two men laughed and gave her a shoulder rub, they didn't see what I saw. I saw her eyes that were filled with terror, misery, and emptiness. I saw her chewing her fingernails. I saw her not speaking. I saw her pick the menu up and put it down three times. I saw her scan the room constantly to see who was watching. I saw that she was much younger than her heavily made up face told. I saw someone who wanted to be anywhere other than she was.
I tried to make eye contact, just to let her know that I see Her. I wanted to reach out, share the Human Trafficking hotline number, tell her to say she needs help, something..... I wanted to kick the men in their teeth, and I wanted to vomit.
But, instead, I walked off to watch a show called "Love" with my heart breaking. I wondered what I could do for Her. So, I prayed. I prayed that she would get out. I prayed that she would find a way to escape her torture. I prayed that she would tell someone she needs help. And, I'm still praying for Her every day. I pray that God sends someone to help Her.
Most people would blow it off because prostitution is legal in Vegas & our society sees prostitutes as entrepreneurs that have chosen to sell themselves. But, more often than not, that's not the case. Less than 6% of Vegas "prostitutes" are not under the control of a pimp. While chatting with a survivor recently, I asked her to explain the difference between prostitution and being trafficked. Her response was "It's whether they have the ability to leave or not. I had a car and my own money. I physically could have left at anytime. But, I also had a Dude that had the address of every family member of mine and promised to kill each and every one of them if I ever left."
So, look around. Pull your head out of the sand and realize that Trafficking isn't something that is happening in other countries. It's happening in your country, your state, and your city.
And, do me another favor. Pray for Her and all the other Hers out there.
Hi! I'm, Brandi, founder of The Power Project, and I'm so glad you're here! I have this crazy belief that we can all do anything we set our minds to! Sometimes, you just need to hear it from a stranger on the internet. But, we're not strangers anymore. We're friends now. Welcome Friend! I hope you find some inspiration, encouragement, and empowerment here.