To the men who sexually exploited me,
You are the men who silenced me. You made me feel like I did something wrong. You made me think I was the little dirty whore in the community. I really thought I did this to myself. But in reality, it was all of you who did this to me.
When I was six years old I moved from Norfolk, Virginia to Bainbridge, Georgia. My childhood had no love and no compassion. It was a dark and ugly place. My father died when I was two years old. My mother was too weak to take care of herself to be able to nourish me with the nutrients I needed.
I lived with my mother and my six younger siblings. All of you knew we had some deficiencies in our home, including a lack of food, electricity and clothing. Deprivation became my pimp, as you all used my circumstances to lure me into having sex for money.
I encountered the first of the hundreds of you out there when I was 11 years old. You know exactly who you are. You were an alcoholic, in your late 30’s at the time. You lived across the street from me. One evening right before the sun went down, you came to the fence in my yard, crumpled up 20 dollars and gave it to me, using money as a mechanism to sleep with me.
I didn’t even know what sex was at the time, but I knew what we were doing was wrong because of how you made me hide it.
There started to become more of you right when I turned 12 years old.
Sex with you all at 12 years old was scary. It made me very numb. It made me feel dirty. It made me feel unloved and drained all of my self-esteem and confidence.
Many of you had daughters. You had wives. You had girlfriends. You treated your wives and your daughters with respect and love. You showed me no compassion and no kindness. Instead, you treated me like I was garbage.
I really don’t understand. If you knew that I was hungry, why didn’t you just try to help me, instead of sleeping with a desperate and scared child? Why did you see the need to take advantage of my innocence for your own pleasure?
At 18 years old I finally stopped having sex with all of you.
This family took me in and encouraged me to move to Atlanta when I graduated from high school. I originally planned to go for job corps but I didn’t like the setting. So I applied to Morris Brown College. For six straight days they denied me because I had a low high school GPA.
I began to study the guy who worked at the desk, taking notice of when he went to lunch. While he was gone, I came back and I spoke to another person. That person called my high school guidance counselor, who persuaded the school to give me an opportunity.
Once I got into college I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity because this was my one shot at being successful. It was my one shot at gaining my life back. It was my one shot of being who God said I was, which is a powerful woman, a powerful, strong black woman.
You treated your wives and your daughters with respect and love. You showed me no compassion and no kindness. Instead, you treated me like I was garbage.
Now, I have a B.A. in criminal justice.I am an author. I have been on the radio over 300 times. I have been on CNN. I have been on BET. I am an advocate for children who have been abused or who are at risk of being exploited. I am a game changer.
In the midst of getting my education and achieving my goals, I even found love. Real love.
When I came to Atlanta I wasn’t trying to date because I always felt like I wasn’t pretty enough. I felt like somebody would find out what I did in my past with all of you and it would to ruin any relationship.
That was always in the back of mind.
During college on a beautiful summer day, I was walking in the yard when I bumped into this guy. I just complimented his tie. From there we started conversing. He saw me a couple of days later and asked me out. Of course I said no because I felt like I had already messed my life up. He pursued me for one entire year, every single day for an entire year. Finally, I gave in and we went on a date. We have been together ever since.
At first, I didn’t tell him about any of you. One day we went to Bainbridge to visit. When we got there my sister was getting ready to tell him. We were driving back to Atlanta in a thunderstorm when I asked him to pull over on the side of the road. He pulled over and right then and there I told him. He turned the radio down. He grabbed my hand. He looked at me and he told me that I did it to survive. He said he still loved me and that it was OK. And at that moment I became OK.
Together we have four children: two in college, one in high school and my youngest is ten years old. Our house is a house full of love. It’s amazing. I think all the things that were missing from my childhood taught me what I needed to bring into my home. For example, my mom never told me that she loved me. I know how that made me feel. So, I know my children need to know and hear that I love them. I don’t care how many times I talk to them in a day, we always end our conversations with, “I love you.”
I think all the things that were missing from my childhood taught me what I needed to bring into my home.
I also have a full-time job. I am a case manager, an advocate-survivor leader with youthSpark, which is a non-profit organization in Atlanta. We help children who have been exploited or who are at risk of being exploited. When they come through the doors with no hope and just a little bit of light, I talk to them and disclose my past. Within minutes they open up to me, whereas sometimes it takes them months to share their stories with other staff members.
I always tell them they are my inspiration. They are my inspiration because so many times the girls that come through the center remind me of what I used to look like. They remind me of who I used to be. They remind me even down to the smell. And that smell I remember is sadly the smell of your semen.
I give these children hope. I give them power, by letting them know they, too, can become someone who is powerful, strong, educated and unafraid to speak up.
In my new adult life I have interacted with a few of you. Some of you have even told me that you are proud of me. I really don’t even have a word to tell you how that makes me feel. I am still trying to figure out what would even give you the audacity to come to me and tell me you are so proud when you caused so much pain.
But you know what? It’s not even about any of you anymore. A lot of people really couldn’t have gone through half of what you all put me through. They would have died when just one of you climbed on top of them. But I didn’t.
I forgive all of you for what you did to me but I am not a victim anymore. I am victorious. When I look in the mirror, I see a powerhouse. I see wonder woman. I see black girl magic.
When I was little, I didn’t have a voice because you had taken my voice. Now, I have my voice back. I have my strength back. I am in control of my life.
More than anything else, I am so proud of the fact that I am screaming really loud for the children and the women who are too afraid to shout, to yell, in order to bring attention to this epidemic of sex trafficking. I am able to open my mouth and tell the world about all of you abusers. But interestingly enough, you are all so insignificant to me now, I don’t even care if you hear me.
With A Very Strong Voice,
About the author:
Dorsey Jones is a survivor of childhood sex trafficking. She is also a mother four and an advocate for sexual abuse victims.
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I have learned over my Fifty-Eight years of life, and more specifically over the last 10 that FDR's words about fearing only fear itself ring true; to me, they do, anyway. And, at the same time, how the words of the 23rd Psalm comfort me and my abundant faith in G-d allows me to fear only fear, knowing full well that He is always with me. Growing up in a Non-Orthodox, yet Observant Jewish family nicely brings both together and not only makes me feel more protected but commands me to believe so. You see, I have lived a different kind of life, as we all have to some degree, but mine changes daily. Not that I am ANY BETTER than anyone else, in fact, probably less so... I stray from my stories often. I shouldn't, but since my Stroke in 2012, I have somehow developed some sort of ADD, so please bear with me, the end will justify the means and I will *try* to stick with my story; for you, my readers. I moved my family of the ex-wife and four children Cross-Country in 2002 to be closer to my dad who was turning 75 that year, and while I could not afford both financially as well as mentally to move back to Southern California (where he and my mother lived), I chose the Midbar (Hebrew for Desert) of Arizona. Within just a few short weeks of moving here, I woke up one day with some of the most severe abdominal pain I had ever experienced. I found a local doctor and made an appointment to see him that day. I arrived at the appointment and was ushered into an examination room by their PA (Physician's Assistant), who is supposed to be the same as a Doctor, but not really (?). I was examined and Prescriptions for a Pain Medication and an Antibiotic. They continued to treat me in a like manner for almost six months when I ended up in an Emergency Room, where a CT Scan was performed and Colonoscopy was scheduled. I was then diagnosed with a grapefruit-sized obstruction and abscess in my colon that would require surgical intervention. Surgery was scheduled for two days later, on a Friday in Mid-March 2003. I arrived at the hospital at the designated time, 5:45 am; was admitted to the hospital; told them about ALL my allergies (including a BIG ONE, an allergy to a particular anesthetic agent), and taken to a room where I was put into one of those awful gowns and told that they'd be "right back" to take me to surgery. They promptly came back at 10:30 in the morning and took me to yet another room... to wait some more. At 11:45 the Anesthesiologist came in to talk with me. He informed me that he was going to use Propofol for my induction and that he was planning on using the EXACT ANESTHESIA TO WHICH I AM ALLERGIC to maintain me through surgery! "NOT ON ME, YOU'RE NOT", I exclaimed! "I'M ALLERGIC!!!" On my wrist sat a red band that clearly said ALLERGIES: CEVOFLURAINE. I then proceeded to give him a list of anesthetic agents that I knew to be safe. He tapped me on the knee and said: Okay, Smart guy, put yourself to sleep and quickly left the room. I awoke from the anesthesia on the following Wednesday evening. In addition to the NINE small incisions from various attempts to perform the procedure of removing 18" of my diseased colon through a scope, I also had one 6" cut in my belly that began around my navel and continued to just above my groin. I also began experiencing severe shortness of breath. The staples were ripped out of my skin by the Butcher Surgeon two weeks later, but my breathing difficulties continued. After being examined by one doctor after another, I finally decided to be examined by The Mayo Clinic. Over a ten-day to 2 week period, I was examined by multiple physicians, underwent numerous tests and procedures and was finally ready for my Report Appointment. I would learn the results of all of the tests and procedures and hopefully have a clear diagnosis and prognosis. The verdict had come in. Diagnosis: Terminal COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Causation: Bacterial Pneumonia due to Malignant Hyperthermia caused by induction of Detrimental Anesthesia Prognosis: 5% chance of Five-Year Survival I then took my report to a highly regarded Pulmonologist for Follow-Up Care, but not before enrolling in Rabbinical School in New York City. I had, (since age ten) always wanted to be a Rabbi. It was now or never. On the advice of the Pulmonologist, I began taking Prednisone (a Steroid) that would open up my Bronchioles and make it easier to breathe. The normal dosage for a man who is 5'9" and weighs 150 pounds (before I got sick, I weighed 174 pounds, all muscle, by the way) is <100mg per day. My STARTING dose was 100mg THREE TIMES a DAY. the dosage was increased every few months for the following THREE YEARS, when, on Sunday, September 9, 2007, at the weight of 340 Pounds (the Steroids had been increased to 250mg Four Times a day), I collapsed and at Mayo Hospital, was intubated where my organs began failing. Two nights later, on the First Night of Rosh haShana, the Jewish New Year, and while being mechanically ventilated, I went into Full Blown Total System Failure, and suffered a Cardiac Arrest for 14 minutes, followed by a Coma of several weeks duration. During my Coma, I felt as if I was in a box. The box had four dirt walls and smelled like the Morning Dew. In the upper right corner of the box sat a red square with a white X inside of it. "If only I could click on that X, I might stop this program", I thought to myself, but I could not move; I could not stand; could not reach, and could not scream for help. I lay in this place crying out in fear for what seemed like days and weeks and months. Suddenly, my cries were replaced by Psalms. I was reciting Psalms, some of which I had never even read before! And the Psalms turned into Prayers; The Kol Nidre, chanted at the beginning of our Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur; every other prayer recited on this Holy of all Holy Days; the Prayers for the Sukkot Holidays that follow the next week and the Readings for every single Torah Portion of the year. I somehow knew them all. By heart. Without hesitation of memory and obviously without any text to look at. I kept reading and chanting day and night; night and day and resting in between. Really resting. Sleeping... until one day, I opened up my eyes to see my beautiful son Zac sitting at my side on my bed. Covering the holes in my throat and on the side of my neck, I managed to spit out "C'était le rêve de dix minutes le plus étrange que j'aie jamais eu"! I told my son that was the weirdest ten-minute dream that I have ever had in FRENCH, my first language and native tongue. He then told me that it had been over two months, and I was in a Hospice Facility. The night before, I had begun to breathe on my own a minute or so after being disconnected from the machines that had sustained my organs since September. A few days later I was wheeled to an ambulance outside to be transported to the truly amazing HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Scottsdale. The sun kissed my face as I felt like I was pulled up into a body of love. It spoke. In Hebrew: Don't worry, it said. "You and I are going to be okay". I spent the next six weeks learning to do things like eating and holding a pencil; how to shower and dress. I learned how to return to life. Six weeks after leaving HealthSouth, my dad died. In July 2018, my mom joined him. I have had many trials and tribulations over these last twelve years. A Stroke in 2012 took my ability to project my voice loudly; I've been hospitalized many times and know how very precious time is. I do not live for today, rather, I live for tomorrow. I do everything I can do today to help others, and pray that I am again awakened tomorrow to do more good. And if so, great! And if not; if G-d decides to take me tonight, I will hang out with my parents and loved ones forever. I win either way. President Roosevelt was right to believe in only fearing fear. Psalm 23 is even more so, as Faith follows all of us.
Funny my mom passed in 1991 as a 13 year old it was hard but she was much more then beauty. She was a fighter from the beginning and I will never be able to explain her impact. It shows you came from a strong famiy and I'm glad you had both a mom and dad because a lot of people don't. I pray your truth can make a difference
This is trying to scare us with more misinformation then actual information but thank you for giving us your reality. I like it a lot.and people just wash your hand like you should be doing anyway 😂
Great discussion, as well as some interesting numbers which I'm not sure are meant to calm us, or install even more fear. I have many of your same concerns. Just yesterday I scheduled a work trip to Miami for late next week, but am unsure if it will happen or not. And while i say or act like i'm not concerned, sub-consciously, i am quite sure it is weighing on my mind each time i cough, or sneeze, or feel "a little warm", or if someone around me does. One of the biggest fears i have is that with all of the media coverage and the additional testing becoming available, the numbers are sure to skyrocket, and this is going to really set some people off. Our country is going to go absolutely bonkers . We are all guilty of taking limited amounts of information and either talking about it like an expert, or completely overreacting. Here's hoping that the number stat to level out, and then drop. Lets hope that the American people can follow simple suggestions. Lets hope that countries from around the world can work together to come up with a viable plan to slow this train down. And last but not least, lets hope our politicians can come together to provide our country guidance as we all try to get through this. Lets hope they can forget about the presidential race for just a minute to remember what their job really is; to serve the American people. And now is their time to really step up and lead by example.
Lauren, like you I have to balance my fear and confusion. I work directly with the public and I have an immune system that is partially suppressed as a by product of treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis. I fear for my Father the most as his body is much weaker than even mine. I visited the Cleveland Museum of Art on Sunday just to learn three people were positively diagnosed on Monday in Cuyahoga county. You aren't alone in that fear. I think that we must turn to hope to keep us in this trying time. We have to...
Terry, As a man who has lived and breathed baseball, your letter was an absolute joy for me to read. What young boy wouldn't want to be in the clubhouse with his Dad? During your time as manager I've been to quite a few games in Cleveland. None though were as special as July 12th 2014. That was the day I celebrated my 30th birthday. Though the day centered around my birthday it saw me doing something for someone else. It was the day I took my Father to the very first professional sports game in his 59 years of life at the time. It was so touching the certificate that he got from the wonderful folks at Guest Services. And although the home team lost to the White Sox that day, it will always remain one of the best days in my heart. Letters like yours only serve to renew my love for the game of baseball. Thanks for sharing it with the little boy still inside of me wanting to throw that 0-2 curveball to the best hitter in the league.
[…] enough, in the email was your letter to your late father, former NBA basketball star Anthony Mason, talking about your struggles after his death. You wrote […]
Sweet Lauren, I agree completely with the promise that Brian asked you to make. Frankly, it is the only way that I know to love; totally, completely, wholly and unconditionally. You deserve nothing less, nor does your future love.
Wow. What a truly moving and powerful story. We often take for granted the small gifts we give each other just by being present. I'm sad for the heartache. I'm glad you stayed and became. Who knows what little girl or boy will be attributing their life's purpose to some kindness you shared. Peace and Sunshine
You’re welcome Lauren looking forward to all the future stories :)
Thank you Tony. I appreciate all your support.
Thank you Tony. I appreciate all your support.
I’m sorry to hear about Brian but he was right you are too beautiful to not receive roses Lauren:)
[…] Here is why you need to stop being nice and start being loud […]
Thanks for this! So what movie set did you get on?
So nice Roger <3
Pat, Your letter touched me in a very profound way. It left me in tears in the middle of my work day. It made me want to share something with you. On a July morning in 2007 a police officer answered a 911 call I had made when my Mother went into cardiac arrest. Between that officer, my best friend and the fire fighters who showed up minutes later they were able to restart her heart, however at the hospital she passed away an hour later. At the end of his shift that officer stopped by my home to check on the situation and cried when I told him the unfortunate news I received only 4 hours prior. He tried to apologize to me. I looked at the anguish in his eyes and asked him directly what for? He described the ways he felt sorry. What I want to leave you with was my reply to him. I told him he had nothing to be sorry for because he answered the call in what was the darkest moment in my life. I told him that he was a hero regardless because it takes a special person to answer calls like that. You are a hero to people Pat. No one can ever take that away from you. I understand the process you're going through as I've been there myself and like you I still struggle with it when no one is looking. You aren't alone in this. I hope your healing process continues on and you can regain the happiness in this beautiful life. You'll always be a hero to those people, because you were there when the call came Best wishes Roger Chamberlain
Ruth, your letter moved me to tears. Once upon a time I was very closed off about the LGBT community but over a course of several years, I turned my fear into understanding and I actively stand with the community for their equal rights because it is the right thing to do.