Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for the NY Times, has written often about the commercial sexual exploitation of children, both domestic and international. I have quoted him for the title of this post. Last Monday, he wrote his latest column on the subject of human trafficking and the sex industry. This time he recommended “a terrific new book called ‘Girls Like Us,’ by Rachel Lloyd.”
The beauty of the Kindle app is that one can download about 5% of a book to see if the book is worth buying. I did that, read what I downloaded, and immediately bought the book. I finished it over the weekend and I was knocked over by it, or more specifically, by Rachel Lloyd. Again and again, as I read the book I was taken aback by the parallels between what she had written and what I have heard from our kids over the years. The authenticity was more evidence of my belief that if something is true, it is true no matter what angle you come at it from, no matter what approach you take.
It is a pleasure for an old guy like me to be able to go to Google and find out so much immediate information about an author; an ability unimagined for most of my life. Rachel has received a number of well-deserved awards, and I also found a clip of her on YouTube, testifying before Congress. She has done the world, and her obviously much loved girls a tremendous service with a program in NYC named GEMS that she founded. But with this book, she has done a different service for the far bigger community. Especially those of us dealing with other abandoned people who are too often blamed for their own abandonment.
On a personal note, I was delighted to read what she said about the johns who are “buying” these young people. For many years, I have asked the question “who are their customers?” After all, for anyone to make a living from prostitution, there have to be many many many more customers than there are women (and men) in the “life.” But one rarely hears about the johns, and certainly they don’t identify themselves to their families, co-workers, friends, or pastors in anywhere near the numbers that there must be. It is all a very secret and hidden life, apparently.
Rachel does a great job of identifying who the johns are; who the pimps are; but most importantly, who the victims are. And she does a phenomenal job of pointing out how the victims are taught -trained, she says; conditioned, I would say – to buy into their own victimization.
[Commercial: It is a point of pride with my agency (Family Focus Adoption Services) that we have devised some very important ways of teaching our kids how to opt out of their victimization. Additionally, we have set up structures that prevent our kids from being victimized by anyone – including themselves – except, perhaps, by accident. That self victimization is probably the worst consequence of abandonment for all the abandoned. As we did with another author of another great book – Ashley Rhodes Courter and her “Three Little Words” – I hope to get permission to reach out to Rachel to see if she’d be willing to join our honorary board of directors at FFAS.]
My thanks to Nicholas Kristof, who writes, “Lloyd guides us through this world in an unsentimental way that rings pitch perfect with my own reporting.” Uh huh: Pitch perfect with his reporting; pitch perfect with our adoption work. Once again, no matter what direction you take, no matter how you approach it, truth is truth.
Rachel Lloyd: thank you, thank you, thank you. For your book; for your work; but mostly, for your witness: It is never the fault of the lost for being lost.