Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave
Sibel Hodge; Kindle Edition
Published August 6th 2011
My name is Elena and I used to be a human being. Now I am a sex slave.
If you are reading this diary then I am either dead or I have managed to escape…
Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave is a gritty, gripping, and tear-jerking novella, inspired by real victims’ accounts and research into the sex trafficking underworld.
It is estimated that 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year – 80% of these are women and girls. (Source: U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report: 2007)
Perhaps it will seem strange that I chose to read this now, in December, when there’s all the cheer of Holidays in the air all that feel-good tone to everything; I felt it was an appropriate moment to contemplate the lives of all those that don’t have the time to enjoy their Hallmark moment. This is a story about someone like that. I found this read to be very strong; I hesitate to say I enjoyed it, I don’t think any same person could say they ‘enjoy’ it, but I found it excruciatingly touching and eye-opening.
Written in a clear, almost crisp voice, the story is narrated by the traffic victim herself, and while reading I was shocked by the feeling of her odd disjointed view of her situation. I can’t really say what it was that made me feel so, but I almost felt transported into Elena’s mind (and, one of my names is Elena, so go figure, right?) and the staccato of her story resonated through me. I found many passages of this novella excruciatingly touching; the matter of trust, for one thing, was approached in what I feel was a truly remarkable way. You end up feeling naive for trusting people, sometimes people you’ve known for your entire life, you trust the authorities to somehow protect you from this horrifying story happening to you, you expect the police force to somehow save you when they do discover your whereabouts and not become one of your Johns. You expect a lot from this delusion of society you’re brought up with; the truth? Chances are you’ll find they’re just delusions. Not only many of the ones above mentioned might not care about your predicament, they might be getting their fat greed catered to keep a blind eye to it, or even worse, they might enjoy your hopelessness by enjoying your ‘services’. It takes a bit of effort to wrap your mind around that; somehow you never think these things could possibly happen to you, until they do.
This is completely unrelated, or maybe it’s a bit related, but reading this made me think about one of my ex-neighbors. I’ve known him since I was a little kid, his wife a great friend of my mom’s, and he was this funny sort of guy, joking around, and seeming so…nice. Some years ago he was accused and sentenced for trafficking women, he did his time and got out. When I met him on the street after he got out, and didn’t ignore him (which he abundantly seemed to expect), I remember looking at him and finding it impossible to reconcile the image I’ve had of him for all my life and the reality that stood there, with those hollow, dead eyes. You know, I’ve read about that expression in books or whatnot, but I didn’t quite feel it like a stab of ice through my marrow before looking into that man’s eyes. A vacant being, a soulless body. Had he always been like that, only I never noticed, blinded by my naive image of him? Is it always like that? These monsters have wives, lovers, children, families…not always, but they might as well. Are we all blind to their monstrosity until forced to shove our eyes open?
The truth is, I think, even harder to wrap our minds around; for all their cruelty and greed, they’re just people. These monsters, they’re no picture of evil, they’re a crooked picture of humanity. I find that hard to really accept or embrace.
This was a read that made me contemplate the nature of the human being, and what it really means to be one. That happens rarely, I will admit, often books will help me keep my mind off of that, they will offer me a cozy fantasy of life, a fantastic world where good somehow manages to triumph and love saves the day. It’s healthy to read something that gives you real perspective, even though it isn’t necessarily easy to, and you might prefer to avoid it. Truth is not for the faint of heart, I always say; this story is a true story, even if it’s not precisely this Elena’s, the main character, there are huge numbers of Elena’s out there. I will think of them this December, I will keep them in mind and not ignore their horror.
This is one of those eye-opener reads, but it’s also a brutal one. You need to be strong to stomach it, you need to be determined, I feel. If you’re not that strong, maybe you should postpone reading this novella, but don’t ignore its existence and its topic.