I don't doubt that my dad loved me, and I adored him. Still he was gone a lot. When I was in junior high, my parents divorced and time with my dad became all the more rare. Our infrequent visits were almost always shared with my four sisters and lots of other people.
For almost as long as I can remember, I dreamed of finding a man who really loved me, a man who could rescue me. I didn't know from what, but I craved the kind of attention Elvis Presley gave his girls in the movies. Then when I got in jr. high--real live boys. All the better if my parents didn't approve. At the time I wasn't too thrilled with the choices they made, so I determined to make different ones. All I wanted was a guy who would take care of me. That's exactly what today's pimps are looking for.
When I think of the risky decisions I made in terms of today's world, it makes me shudder. One night my friends actually let me get in a car and drive off with several boys. I was under the mistaken impression that my friends knew those guys, but they didn't. Though it was a bit unnerving when I realized I was in a car full of strangers, back then it was all good fun and they treated me with respect. Because that's what boys did back then, for the most part.
That cultural norm also kept me safe when as a senior in high school I took my first drink. I gathered my closest guy friends because there was no doubt in my mind that any of them would take advantage of me and if anybody did get out of line someone else would set him straight.
Not so, today. Songs from super stars like Usher make many girls think the only way to be appreciated by men is to use their bodies; if they don't there's something wrong with them. Young men, boys really, have Usher and Snoop Dog for role models. Football stars who beat their women and basketball stars accused of rape.
The only way the environment so conducive to human trafficking can change is for real men to stand in the gap and say "no more. This is no way to treat a lady."
And, that's what happening in Los Angeles County, thanks to CARE 18--an 18-month collaborative to fight human trafficking, because some men determined they were going to say "Enough. This has to stop."
Hopefully this stand will spread across America. That's what will save girls at risk--girls who are being groomed by men who will exploit them and girls already in "the life" of prostitution--men with the courage to stand up and show boys how to treat girls with the respect they deserve.
Please men, join this effort and help it spread. If you're not in this area, start something right where you are. So many young girls are counting on you--girls who need men to come to their rescue.