The number one question may adults ask children is “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Depending on the age of the child the response may vary. Some may answer a doctor, teacher, nurse, etc. Following the response of the child the adult may reference the importance of education and doing well in school. It is fair to say parents instill the importance of education in their children from an early age. Pimps use this as a recruitment tactic to manipulate individuals into the dark world of sex trafficking.
As far back as I can remember, I wanted be an attorney. I could see myself in the courtroom defending others and would often times dress up in my mother’s clothes pretending to be an attorney with my dolls as my client. My passion grew stronger as I began to pursue an undergraduate degree. This same passion was the source of manipulation that my pimp used to capture me into the dark underground culture we know today as sex trafficking. I was pursuing a degree in legal studies at St. Johns University under a full athletic scholarship. The summer before my junior year, I was injured during track practice. Though it was only a pulled hamstring, it represented the end of my track scholarship and potentially my college career. Finding myself $3,000 short for the spring semester, I met a man who offered to help me pay for school. I was cautious to take the offer but eager to return to school and complete my degree, so decided to take the risk. In the end, the risk ended up greater than I ever imagined. I spent 18 months under the control of a brutal pimp. He continued to promise to send me back to school but as each semester came and went, the reality that I was not returning became evident. Looking back it was as if my passion to complete my education was a blindfold that prevented me from seeing the truth and gave my trafficker the ability to manipulate me.
But my dream never faded.
Last week, I received my acceptance letter to continue my criminal justice education at Loyola University. I had mixed emotions about this. While a part of me was excited that I can continue another leg of my journey toward restoration, a part of me was nervous. That passion to become an attorney still lives in me and I quickly remember the end results of the last time I tried to exercise this passion for education. In the split of a second, I began thinking I had no money to return to school so how will I enroll. In fact, it was due to the lack of money why it was so easy for me to be recruited by my trafficker.
The Holy Spirit has a way of working things out because he sent people around me who were more excited about my acceptance to college than I was. It was through these moments that the Lord began to speak. I don’t have to be fearful about going after my dreams because He will provide. Moreover, this time I am more prepared, aware and knowledgeable.
As college students return to school this week, I know they are excited but thinking about the challenges they may face this semester – tuition, books, housing and food. Guess who else is thinking about these challenges and is lurking around college campuses – PIMPS!!!! They are setting up shop looking for that individual in need of some assistance.
I encourage college students to be aware of pimps and ask questions. If you feel like it’s too good to be true, it probably is, don’t ignore your gut feeling. There are resources available to assist you on your college journey. Ask questions, seek answers, and find solutions without being discouraged. Know that pimps are tricky and master manipulators who will try to convince you to make a decision you will later regret.
It happened to me don’t let it happen to you.
To learn more about pimp recruitment, control and manipulation from Shamere McKenzie join us at Sharing the Hope 2013 JuST Conference November 7-9 in Washington, D.C. To register, visit: www.sharedhope.org/sharingthehope