The First 24 Hours with Princess

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The First 24 Hours with Princess

A few weeks ago, a Facebook post changed my life. My workday was nearly over and a friend of mine put on her status that she had gotten a call from Fulton Industrial Blvd. My heart stopped. FIB is famous for one thing and one thing only: sex. Any way you want it; any time you want it, with a Big Mac on the side. We spend time there each summer talking to the women who are forced to work the boulevard.

A few nights ago, a team down on FIB met a girl we’ll call Princess. She was 19 and had been working since she was 16; nearly 4 yrs of being bought. Our team talked to her for nearly half an hour. She said she wanted to leave with them, but caught sight of her pimp watching her. Our team gave her some contact info then watched her walk away.

Princess had called. That’s really all the status said. She called.

Her pimp was gone and she wanted us to get her…now. A team of us scrambled together to try to come up with a plan. We had never pulled a girl off the streets before. We knew her pimp was deadly. Was it a trap? Was it safe? How much longer would she be ok? How fast could we get there in rush hour traffic?

By an unexplainable coincidence, or an act of God, one of our team members was just a few exits away. The next two hours was a whirlwind of phone calls, anxious prayers, and some black ops maneuvering. All the suspense movies ever made can’t compare with what was being felt by the 5-person team, and the countless folks online. They were the longest 2 hours of my life, but by the end of it, we had her.

We got her. That’s all the status said.

Ugh! It was as if the entire world gave a collective sigh of relief. There was crying, shouting, and shock that we pulled this off.

A small team of us met Princess and the driver an hour or two later. We fed her, loved on her, and got her some clothes. All she had were the dress and flip-flops she was wearing.

We checked her in to a non-descript hotel room where she could rest and take in everything that’s happened. Two of us stayed the night with her only to realize that she doesn’t sleep at night. Oh yeah…

While I tried to catch some zzz’s, Princess and our other roommate were up until early morning laughing and sharing stories. It was amazing to be able to listen. Princess has a great laugh.

The stories that came were dark. Stories from her childhood. Stories of her pimp. Stories about her son. Names of girls she’d befriended on the street. She slept completely diagonal on the bed because she thought her pimp would try to climb in bed with her.

The next morning, our roommate left and the day began. We met up with Superwoman Pam. How can I describe Superwoman Pam? Olivia Benson meets Michelle Obama is close. She became Princess’s caseworker, for lack of a better term. Pam got her more clothes and some food, then we started the process of getting her into a long-term rehab facility.

Not drug rehab. Street rehab.

When a person is trapped in the sex industry for any period of time, there tends to be damage on all levels: emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual. There are a growing number of dedicated programs that address these issues. Although these programs and the funding for them are growing, there are never enough beds for those needing to be rebuilt from the inside out. That’s where SuperPam comes in. Pam knows the city’s programs and the way they work. She is the person who will find the right “next step” place for Princess.

After talking to Pam we went back to the hotel to get some sleep; remember—day is night and night is day.

Princess started dreaming. She dreamed that her pimp and his friends found us in our hotel room. She woke up crying. About two hours later, I could hear her crying in her sleep again.

That’s when I started praying. I prayed for Princess, that the nightmares would stop and that she would be able to rest. I prayed for the girls she mentioned, and the ones I had met myself. I prayed for the countless girls in my city, whose names I didn’t know. The ones who, any minute now would have to start getting ready for work, and put on whatever excuse for an outfit their pimps had bought this week. I prayed for the girls that wouldn’t make it out; the ones that get found a week later, behind furniture, or dumpsters. Sitting in a cold dark hotel room for a few hours can help you see things. This was the life Princess new.

Then, I started praying for the change she was about to experience and what she would be like in a year, after she gets the help she needs. How she could get her child back. I thought about the hope that would be in her eyes. That’s what’s missing right now…Hope.

My time with Princess ended and I packed my bag and let the next team member in. I said goodbye to Princess, who was still half asleep. As I was walking down the frigid hallway towards the lobby, a memory popped in my head. When Princess was falling asleep earlier she made a half-conscious comment, “So glad I don’t have to work today”.

Me too, Princess. Me too.

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If you would like to contribute to others like her, please consider the following organizations dedicated to repairing the damage caused by sexual exploitation.

 

http://www.streetgrace.org

http://www.wellspringliving.org

http://www.nightlightinternational.com

http://www.redeemedlove.org

 

by     Ginger Hughes

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