I will start this by giving a Trigger Warning/Content Warning now. This is a post about child trafficking and other traumas.
As most of America knows and acknowledges, we have a group of predators in the Executive Branch, to include the president* himself. Some of us remember the troubling and depraved story of the Jeffrey Epstein case in Florida and his alleged role (running it) in a child sex trafficking ring from reports made back in 2015, though reports existed as far back as 2003 and possibly beyond. (See the author’s criticism of Vanity Fair’s handling of the 2003 article here)
The point is, people knew. And one of the people who got him off damn near scott free is currently serving in the administration. As we now know, Alex Acosta, the current Labor Secretary, as the top Florida prosecutor helped Esptein serve the least punitive sentence possible. He has defended this decision numerous times, though to be honest, I don’t know how any person of conscience could.
Today we are also learning from reports that Acosta’s Labor Department is seeking to cut 80% of funding for the International Labor Affairs Bureau’s (ILAB) work in combating child sex trafficking, child labor, and forced labor in the United States and around the world.
It is very clear from these recent developments and Epstein’s arrest and indictment in New York and subsequent action in favor of Epstein that the current occupant of the Oval Office nor his administration care anything for the safety and protection of children – specifically victims of child sex trafficking. And of course, we also know of the exploits and self-entitlement of the predator-in-chief. A simple Google search will give you tens of thousands of results of his exploits over the past 50 years.
And don’t get me started on what this administration is doing to children in those concentration camps that CBP is running. The depravity has slinked its tentacles into every facet of our nation, straight from the top.
The silence from the Republican Party on these topics is deafening. And I see now that there is literally nothing they will not do to keep power. I’ve suspected it before now, of course. But remaining silent on the willful abuse of children is something I wouldn’t have thought any decent human being would be capable of doing. And it truly scares me in a deeply personal and visceral way.
As news broke this morning of Acosta’s plans to cut funding to combat child sex trafficking, news also popped up on my timeline that Secretary of State Pompeo was unveiling a new human rights commission that would redefine what human rights are.
My god, what is happening?
This terrifies me. And I am not a victim of child sex trafficking. I am a 42-year-old woman. But I do have a conscience. I do have empathy. I am a survivor of child molestation and rape.
I know what it feels like to not be able to stop what someone is doing to me.
I know what it is like to be violated by someone I know.
I know what is like to be violated by someone I don’t know.
I know what it feels like to lose your innocence. Without consent.
I know what it’s like to not have anything done about it.
I know what it’s like for authorities to “lose” the paperwork.
I know what it’s like to watch as the person(s) who hurt me walk away unscathed.
And memories and feelings bubble up to the surface every time one of these stories breaks. The bile that rises in my throat that I have to fight back. The tears that come to the surface stinging my eyes that I have to fight back. The fight or flight response that brings numbness and butterflies in my gut that I have to fight to keep from running away or screaming. Because I’m at work. Because I am at the store. Because I am at home with my daughter. My husband. Because I have a client.
Every time new reports break, I have to remind myself that I am safe. Otherwise, I revert back to that 4-year-old little girl. To that 12-year-old girl. To that 19-year-old girl. To that 22-year-old woman. To that 30-year-old woman.
That is a lot of trauma. With no repercussions for the people who assaulted me.
I know what it is like to feel unsafe. Unprotected.
I know what it is like for grown adults to tell me I was somehow responsible for it.
“Well if you did (or didn’t) do this…”
“Well, maybe you should…”
“It’s not as bad as you’re making it out to be…”
I’m sitting at my desk at work right now. It’s a quiet day. Not a lot happening. I’m sitting here writing this because these stories keep breaking. It seems like every day for the past two years.
I’m writing now because if I don’t, even 12, 15, 20, 35 years later, I am still affected by my own trauma and I will fall apart. Or panic.
I’ve been to therapy. I still go to therapy. I have panic disorder and I am on medication.
That doesn’t stop the response. Physical, psychological, or emotional.
The trauma is part of me. As much as my toes or fingers are part of me. It doesn’t go away. Ever. But it does get better. Easier to manage. Until.
The children abused and victimized in the disgusting machinations of Jeffrey Epstein and his cohorts and the children abused and victimized by our home Department of Homeland Security all lost a part of themselves. Be it innocence, dignity, trust, all of those and more.
That it is being done by people who are supposed to protect them – to protect all of us – is perhaps one of the worst violations of this administration.
When I cry and hurt and flashback, I do it as much for them as I do for myself.
I know what it’s like. And because I know what it’s like, I have never been so ashamed to be an American as I am right now.