My family and I attended the Celebration of Christmas at Dream City Church last night, which has been a Phoenix-area staple for the last 39 years. While it’s always an impressive display of talent and theatrical storytelling, this year’s presentation struck a particular chord with me. Dream City Church is doing incredible work here in Phoenix to help rescue girls and women from sex trafficking, and they can use more help from all of us to support and expand their efforts.
In 2006, the church purchased an Embassy Suites hotel that it converted into something like a halfway house to help folks transition from lives on the streets and abusive environments and back into healthier, more stable lives of dignity and purpose. In 2013, Dream City learned that the Phoenix metro area ranked among the most prolific and dangerous areas for girls to be kidnapped and forced into sex trafficking. In response, they modified the top floor of their converted hotel to specifically help rescued girls and women recover from these atrocities and named that floor, “Where Hope Lives.”
To date, they’ve helped more than 300 victims escape from their horrific existence and begin the long and arduous process to reboot their life and start anew, free from abuse, oppression, and sex slavery. Consider that reality, and read this as slowly as I intended when I typed it: Modern, Day, Slavery.
I’m told my books are “hard-boiled” because of the gritty language, topics, and unflinching view I depict of crime scenes, criminals, and the violent conduct of the worst among us. I understand that’s how civilized society may perceive my fiction, but, for me and those like me, this is simply our reality, our truth. To that end, I want to warn you, the civilized reader, that you’re about to experience a “hard-boiled” moment. I always intend these to convey my truth, and never subject you to them for the sake of shock or some grotesque sadism.
The harsh reality is that women, mostly girls, are coerced, compelled, and forced, under perpetual threat of violence and death, to exist as living sex toys for strangers. The “Pretty Woman” script doesn’t exist and never has. Prostitution is NOT a “victimless” crime. Its participants are never there of their own free will, and the only conspirators are the pimp and the john. The girls, the commodities in this heinous transaction, are NEVER willing participants. NEVER. Their existence is defined by the income potential of their orifices, and their person is reduced to hollow, supportive tissue to keep money flowing into their pimp’s pockets. They are abused, tormented, and entirely dependant on their abusers. They have to submit to the johns to earn money with their undernourished and, often, drug-addicted bodies. They have to submit to the pimp’s demands as he controls their food, their shelter, their transportation, their clothing, and his happiness and pleasure determine the amount of pain and violence that he’ll introduce into their lives that day. For most of these girls, their only choice is whether or not to commit suicide with the small knife they have to carry for protection from their johns. From the comfort of your furnished and air-conditioned existence, you can argue about “choice,” but you’re wrong. Dead wrong.
These girls are so afraid and absolutely controlled by their tormentors that most will not immediately take advantage of opportunities to escape, even if offered to them. The pimps have so wholly perfected their tactics and manipulation that the girls are only a few days or weeks from capture to assimilation. When they do finally accept the chance to flee, we as a society must be prepared to surround them with support and therapeutic services that afford them a reasonable path to recovery. And, we must relentlessly pursue their abusers and lock them away in the deepest and darkest concrete boxes our laws allow. We’re generations away from stymying the demand for sex-on-demand, but we can at least ensure the identified offenders cannot ever victimize anyone else’s baby girl.
I hope you’ll join me in supporting Dream City Church and their ongoing successful efforts to identify, rescue, and rehab the victims of sex trafficking. Here are some links to learn more, speak with your wallet, and get involved: