is sex work the same as sex trafficking?
No. Absolutely not. Completely different.
Sex work is a consensual act between two adults. It is work, and it deserves respect and support. Support begins by learning more through listening to sex workers who have blogs, instagrams, and other forms of social media. Particularly POC, Trans, LGBTQ+, Disabled, Fat, and other marginalized sex workers.
The “easy” definition of sex trafficking is a non-consensual act where one individual (the “Victim”) is sold to another individual (the “John”) by another individual (the “Pimp” or “Perpetrator”) for sexual acts. There are two main types of trafficking: Human Trafficking and Sex Trafficking. Both branch out into different definitions and experiences. Learn more and learn what is being done through three organizations I am privileged to personally know and partner with here, here, and here.
Is my trauma big enough to be labelled as “Trauma”?
I have never met another humxn being who has not known some type of trauma. Whatever prompted you to ask that question, I believe the reality of it in you. I believe the noise, the apathy, the anger, the grief, the destruction, the survival, the fear, the anxiety, the depression, the PTSD, the vulnerability, the confusion, the guilt, and the shame in you. I believe the impacts. I believe the power.
Trauma, to me, means that there was once an experience or many, whether known or unknown, that now rest within our body, mind, and soul in complex and individualistic ways. These “ways” are emotion-driven residual impacts which rise up at known, unknown, and inconvenient times when (and only when) we are safe enough to experience them.
That doesn’t mean they’re comfortable, but it still means we are privileged. For, if we are experiencing the residual impacts of our experience or acts of trauma, we have the privilege of safety.
Our mind, body, and soul will never move out of survival (in little to big ways) if we do not hold some form of safety. This is both assuring and agonizing, I know. Many never get to that point. They never hold the resources or “option” to feel because they are demanded to survive. They are forced to remain in one-or-more cycles of abuse/racism/segregation/marginalization. Moving from one trauma to another, on constant loop, without the privilege to change that.
We can never truly question why someone doesn’t “Just leave,” or why someone uses that socially-demonized “X” to cope. Residual impacts turn into coping mechanisms, and without safety or resource to be modified, pile up. Forcing individuals to obtain methods of any kind to survive and endure, in any way they are able. It’s valid. Survival is valid. Nevertheless, survival erodes us.
I am sorry for how you have been demanded to endure whatever it is you know.
what is a residual impact?
When/if we have the privilege to heal, we are not healing from the experience or acts of trauma. We are healing from the impacts of them. Our emotional responses that were never felt due to the demand to survive; and not only survive but continue to. Due to the injustices in our systems, carrying the burdens of the act/s done has become the demand/expectation instead.
Some residual impacts manifest mentally.
Some residual impacts manifest emotionally.
Some residual impacts manifest physically.
All. Are. Real.
All. Are. Valid.
All. Are. Worthy. Of. Belief.
Healing that occurs within us allows us to separate ourselves from the experience or act/s of trauma, and begin to believe what the experience or act/s did to us. The results are devastating to hold, and thus without resource or knowledge of how, it becomes easier to ignore the results and focus on the experience or act/s. How the experience or act/s still lives in us today and how we can honour the parts of us who experienced it versus carry the experience or act/s itself as our burdens is what I wish for all.
It is hell, but in the agonizing privilege of self-belief rests our freedoms. I truly believe that by grieving we become free. Even if that grief lasts a lifetime.
Residual impacts are burdens, I will not deny that. However, they are also us. Us as the survivor who endured. Us as the humxn who lived. Us as the child who was torn from us. Waiting in the darkness of the pain to inform us of what we need now, after everything in our life changes in the unfair aftermath. We can be led and learn to live again by listening to the parts of us that survived, and then slowly invite them into new life. Modifying the skills obtained in fire through kneeling beside them, without demand or doubt, and listening to them tell the story of how they were made.
why do you talk about privilege so much?
Despite the conversations in media currently, the exploitation of activism in society, and the commercialization of this topic, white supremacy is nothing new. We’re just privileged enough to believe that it is.
My trauma used to take up every single part of my autonomous self and my individual life; as trauma does. Given that I have had the option and resource to choose a lot of foundational healing, I also became able to listen, recognize, and understand my place in this world is unjustly given. Regardless of my history of insidious abuse, I am extremely privileged because and only because I am white. However, it doesn’t end there.
Branching off of this I discuss privilege in many forms in regards to trauma, abuse, and healing. For, although trauma does not discriminate, people and resources and communities and judicial systems and societies do. Trauma is unknown, the complexities and intersections of trauma are unknown, and the reality of sustainable healing is unknown. The discomfort of discussions around these topics must continue in order to even begin to orchestrate change within them. By sharing my story, my research, and my understanding, I start conversations regarding these topics with a hope to begin shifting things at an individual and community level. It is my responsibility to be very aware of privilege as I do, and continue maintaining my education regarding them.
What can I do as a Non-Professional ally/advocate?
Pause and ask yourself:
Am I able to listen to the individual in question without letting my valid and understood guilt lead my actions?
Do I hold the resources to process with a professional, trusted individual, or other source that doesn’t include the person I’m listening to?
Am I able check in with myself during my time with that individual and recognize when I’ve met my personal and valid limit?
Am I able to hold healthy boundaries that model to that individual what they can/should follow in a healthy relationship?
Am I able to listen and believe without fixing, demanding explanation, or questioning?
If you answered “Yes” to all of these:
Listen and believe them.
Point them in the direction of professional support.
Are you a voice for the voiceless?
It is my responsibility as a white, unjustly privileged, humxn to consistently do the work to remain vigilant to my place in this world. Which is why I speak on behalf of my own personal 18-years of abuse. Holding awareness that my experience is privileged, some/all of the healing methods I learned through my resources of therapy and education have been stolen from those who came before me without acknowledgement, and my voice is not special or unique.
I have high knowledge of this field because my trauma demands I do. I have an understanding that exists outside of a text book. I have had the privilege to escape and choose life long healing. I have the option to work hard so I can sit down next to leaders and invite conversations that need to occur, instead of simply give answers.
My entire life will forevermore be impacted by the aftermath of what was done to me. This advocacy I choose is a result of that.
I will fail. So, if I ever speak in a manner that insults your marginalized community please always feel free to contact and inform me. I can apologize and shift, and I can commit to doing better.