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3 insights on COVID

Covid-19 is a pandemic, it’s not a political argument to be won. I’ve taken a long time to talk about it, to address it. As a survivor of familial trafficking if we had experienced a pandemic when I was younger I would have never survived. I know you think I’m being a bit overdramatic but let me explain what I mean.

3 insights on the current situation from a CSEC survivor:

1) Demand has increased: I was trafficked by a family member in private and public venues. Demand was never a problem, there was always a high demand sexual exploitation. In the current situation, there is a high demand for sexual exploitation of all types and especially for minors. In many cases the exploiters and/or traffickers are the ones who often have access to the venues who the victims will be trafficked, nothing is closed or considered off limits. In my situation, my exploiter had keys to be building with backrooms, private venues, hotel rooms, and other locations. As you can see there more than enough access to for a person to be trafficked even in the midst of a pandemic. We have seen evidence of drive through strip clubs and other innovative ways for exploitation to continue. Demand is continuing and increasing and those who are being exploited are being exploited at exponential rates. Survivors of exploitation are faced with this ever-increasing demand and the fact that there is no safer at home order for some of us – the most vulnerable of us.

2) Threat of death. COVID19 threatens our lives – we are told we are safer at home; except that has never been true for me or many other survivors of exploitation. My life was threatened often I was told that no one would know or care if I died or he killed me. Countless men told me that they would kill me if I didn’t do what they wanted. I know with 110% certainy that if I would have been experienced the pandemic as a minor being trafficked I would have died. The virus threatens to take my life silently as well, I suffer long-term health consequences that COVID is very real and very serious for me and other trauma survivors. I’ve heard stories of people who have died in their apartments alone, and without family and again fearing that I could die. Trauma survivors are all perceiving COVID differently and some really triggered by the threat of a death again.

3) We are in this together. However, nothing has ever felt further from the truth. It’s easy to say we are in this together when you have a large social network including family. However, for survivors of exploitation, especially those who were trafficked by their family members, they have few people to turn to. It is a huge level of exploitation of isolation. Facing COVID-19 and being alone with few people to turn to is completely isolating. The other time I was completely isolated for my “own protection” I was being exploited. I couldn’t have friends or talk to other people because if anyone found out what was going on I be severely punished. The level of isolation for my safety is reminiscent of what happened when I was being exploited. Trauma survivors so much to deal with on a daily basis and working through a pandemic has cause another layer of trauma. Isolation is a common control tactic, please be kind and understand there are layers of trauma to work through.

The pandemic has taught each of us that life is valuable, it is important to slow down and that we need to notice the beauty in life. If you know a trauma survivor please show them kindness, grace and love because they are dealing with a lot through this pandemic.

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