Susan was molested by her father and her mother was addicted to drugs. She was taken from her home by child services at age ten and lived in the foster care system until the age of eighteen when she “aged out” of the system. She was forced to take to the streets with a single suitcase.
It was mid-January in Rhode Island and Susan was freezing. It was just beginning to snow when a young man drove up beside her in his new, heated Infiniti and offered to take her for a cup of coffee. She hesitated for a moment, but he was cute and she could really use some warmth and rest, not to mention, she hadn’t eaten since dinner-time yesterday. She thought, “Maybe he’ll feed me lunch too.” So she got in.
By the end of the day, Rocko told Susan that she was beautiful and that he’d like to take care of her. He offered his place to her. She loved the way he made her feel wanted and safe. And she felt flattered by his invitation to live with him. She thought that it had to be better than staying in the shelter where she found it hard to sleep because of the noise and the fact that she had to lie beside dozens of strangers who would steal the shoes right off her feet if they had the chance.
In the first few weeks, Rocko was wonderful. Her fed her three meals a day, paid for her manicures, and bought her new clothes, including a gorgeous leather jacket. He told her he loved her and that maybe one day they would get married. Everything changed on the day when Rocko told Susan that he didn’t have money for the rent. He told her that she could make them a load of money if she sold her body. He told her that in one day, she could make enough for a whole month’s rent. He told her that if she loved him, she would do it for him. Susan didn’t have to think too hard on it, because deep inside she felt that this was all that she was good for. When she was five years old, her dad began having sex with her and it lasted until the age of ten. When she was in her second foster home, her older foster brother also had sex with her. Hence, she learned at a young age that her value was based on satisfying men’s sexual desires.
Susan told Rocko that she would do it for him, so that he could pay the month’s rent. “But only for one day”, she told him. The following week, when Rocko told her that he needed her to sell her body again because he didn’t have money for the groceries, she told him “No.” That’s all it took, just one word. Rocko took his right fist and knocked Susan out cold on the kitchen floor. When she came to, he told her that he would kill her if she ever told him no again. From that day forward, everything was different.
Susan soon learned that if she didn’t turn tricks and earn at least a thousand dollars a day, she would get beaten severely. She had to work three hundred and sixty-five days a week, all through the day and night, whether on blistering hot summer days or sub-zero winter days. After a year’s time, Susan tried to leave Rocko and the life. Rocko, however, always kept a keen eye on Susan and the other girls, and he eventually caught up to her and beat her so badly that she was in bed for a week.
While in bed that first night, she realized how dumb it was to try to leave. After all, where would she go? She remembered what it was like when she went a whole day without eating, and how lonely she was, with no one to talk to or tell her she was beautiful. It’s true that he now had three other girls whom she had to share Rocko’s affections with, and it’s true that every now and then he beat her, but that was her own fault. At least now she belonged to someone. Rocko was all she had. And she was his.
And because Susan felt this sense of belonging and loyalty to Rocko, she laughed at the Christian who approached her on the street one day, and told her that her organization could rescue her. Rescue her from what or whom? Rocko was her boyfriend—her family. He loved her and she loved him. And if she were to leave the life, where would she go? What would she do? She had no relatives that cared about her, and no skills to support herself. What’s even more important, is the fact that Susan had zero self-confidence and self-worth. This life and all that it entailed was all that she felt worthy of. And it was all that she knew.