Imagine you’re a 16 year old girl.
You’ve grown up in a single family home.
It’s just you and your dad.
It’s been the two of you for as long as you can remember.
You have no memory of your mom.
Money doesn’t come into the home consistently and you’re finally old enough to get a job and help your dad keep up with the bills.
You get a part time job at a fast food joint.
Your dad has had girlfriends before but they usually don’t last. They don’t stay long enough for you to even find out their names.
But suddenly that changes.
And you can tell he likes her a lot. But she’s not a fan of you.
But it’s been almost your entire life since your dad felt like he was in a meaningful relationship, so you stay quiet. You want him to be happy.
Things start getting really serious between your dad and his girlfriend. They decide to move in together.
However, your home is small; there isn’t really room for another person.
Your dad’s girlfriend tells him that he has to pick; you or her.
He doesn’t pick you.
You have to start looking for a place to live on your own but rent is high and you don’t make much.
You consider dropping out of school to pick up more hours, but you really want to graduate one day.
One day at work a guy comes up to your till.
As you hand him back his change he pauses. He catches your gaze and says to you “Wow, I sure hope someone tells you every day how beautiful you are.”
You feel the heat flooding to your cheeks and you flutter your eyes downcast so he doens’t notice how shy you are.
He gives you a smile and walks away.
It’s been forever since you felt noticed and you can’t remember if anyone has ever called you beautiful.
He comes back the next time you’re working.
Your heart jumps and you crave the possibility of having someone appreciate you.
This time, he asks you out.
In the shock of excitement you bashfully agree.
He tells you to meet him at a local restaurant the next night. He tells you to wear something pretty.
You can’t believe that someone would actually pick you, of all people, out of a room and want to be with you.
You meet him at the restaurant and he’s waiting there with flowers.
You sit down and talk. It feels so natural. He’s a great listener. He just sits there and lets you talk. He occasionally interrupts you to tell you how beautiful you are.
He takes you out the next day. This time he meets you at the mall and takes you shopping. He points out all the clothes that he thinks would enhance your beauty.
You’re a little uncomfortable at first, they show off more of your skin than you’re used to. But he assures you how flawless your body looks in them. He buys them for you.
The next day you get into a fight with your dad’s girlfriend about why you haven’t moved out yet. You’re so upset you need someone to talk to.
So you call him.
He tells you to come to his place.
In tears you tell him the situation, worried that he’ll judge you.
Instead he holds you and tells you how special you are to him.
He says you can live with him and his roommates until you find your own place. He’ll even help you look for a place.
He looks at you with the most genuine expression. For the first time in a long time you feel safe.
He invites you to share his room with him.
You go hesitantly but you trust him.
You’re not naïve, you know what he’s expecting.
But he’s been so good to you, you want to give as much to him as he’s given to you.
The next morning he tells you how much he loves having you around and asks you to stay.
For lack of another option you say yes.
He convinces you to quit your job because a girl like you shouldn’t have to work at a place like that.
He’ll take care of you if you take care of him.
It seems like a fair trade.
He also knows a few ways you can make some extra money with him.
He takes you on deliveries and asks you to collect money from his clients.
You have suspicions about what he’s doing but you don’t ask. He doesn’t like it when you ask.
You don’t want to upset him by prying because he does so much for you.
One night he asks you to stay at home and wait for a client to drop off some money.
When the client arrives he invites himself in.
He forces you to do things you don’t want to do.
The next morning you feel disgusting and ugly.
Your boyfriend notices that you’re upset.
He asks you what’s wrong but you’re scared to tell him. You’re worried what he will say.
He offers you drugs, promises you they’ll make you feel better.
You take them out of desperation to numb the horrific way you feel.
You feel better.
But the next day you feel even more disgusting than the day before.
You look through his room and find more drugs and you take them.
But every morning you wake up with the weight of a burden far too great for you to cast away yourself.
So you take the drugs.
Eventually he notices that you’re using his drugs.
You’re worried he will be mad but he’s not. He just explains to you that those weren’t your drugs to use and you’ll have to go visit his friend and apologize. His friend will understand but he needs you to apologize so his friend doesn’t get mad at him.
He tells you where his friend lives and you go. He invites you in and you tell him you’re sorry. He says he won’t get back at your boyfriend if you go to his room with him.
You don’t want your boyfriend to get in trouble so you go.
But your boyfriend finds out. He gets mad and breaks up with you.
You don’t know where to go so you go back to his friend’s house.
He offers you shelter in exchange for your body.
At this point you feel so empty, worthless, and ugly. You have lost everything and have nothing left to lose.
You’ve now gotten used to the way the drugs numb the pain. You crave the way they make you feel as though the world has disappeared.
This guy says he knows a way for you to get drugs.
But that will also come at a cost.
You have no money.
The only method of payment you now have is your body.
But you don’t care.
You accept that your body no longer belongs to you.
You’re a slave.
And your body is your job.