The prayer of a sex trafficked child


Washington, November 8, 2012 – I could feel my life slipping away as I lay down among the neatly arranged rows of flowers that populated my mother’s garden. I had chosen a place on top of her favorite bed of antique roses, and the smell of their fresh bloom flooded my senses like a blanket of serene comfort as the dew of an early June morning drifted across my face.

I smiled as I thought of how my mother would be angry with the damaged flowers she so cherished and how the passing of my life would pale in comparison to their destruction. That through her actions or lack thereof she had laid waste first to my innocence and then my last glimmer of hope in this life would have no bearing on her perspective whatsoever.

A shadow passed over my body as it clung to a whisper of its former vital force. I felt the cold touch of the ground as my body struggled to hold on to the warmth that sought an exodus in response to the sleeping pills and vodka I had just ingested. It was all growing dark now and the wind drifted across my face as its arms reached out to carry me away from the pain that had defined my life for so long. A peace that I had never felt before began to settle into my body and I prayed for the others who had suffered beside me to escape the darkness that had held us all prisoners for so long.

For the previous seven years I had been the “property” of a pedophile ring that had trafficked me sexually since the age of five. My attempts to find an escape from their enslavement had only met with severe physical retaliation and death threats.

The child sex trafficking ring disguised itself as an organization for boys and girls called the “Kids in the saddle” that touted exposing children to horses as a therapy for “behavior problems.” How I had become trapped in this web of dark perversion and sadistic domination that exploited young girls and boys as objects for the pleasure of paying customers is a painful story of forces that vandalized the very core of my soul.

At seventeen my mother had become pregnant. Ill equipped to manage even the direction of her own life, she had lived within a whirlpool of chaos that with my birth dragged her into its darkest depths. Throughout her life my mother had desperately sought to escape her own past, filled to its brim with a history of physical and sexual abuse. Her father had molested her since a very young age and she eventually became pregnant at his hands, giving birth to a boy who would be referred to as my “uncle” for most of my life.

My mother was extremely bright and aspired to become a nurse after High School as she fled the abusive environment of her youth to attend college. In the middle of her freshman year, however, she met my father and under the spell of romance became pregnant. My father lacked the life skills to support a family and joined the army to help pay for my birth and upbringing.

To fully set the scene of my parents’ relationship, they were possessed of such diametrically opposing personalities that the two could not have sat next to each other on a cross country bus trip. It was only through the lens of romance and the distance created by my father’s deployment overseas by the army that their relationship lasted three years.

Once they were reunited their divorce was inevitable as late night arguments that turned physically violent became routine. The divorce propelled us into darker circumstances as my mother moved back in with her parents whose abusive tendencies included severe beatings to encourage good behavior.

In the midst of this quagmire of torment and pain there was one person that I am convinced is the reason I am still alive today. My great aunt had separated herself from the rest of her family. She had never married and had no regrets about this decision. She would physically remove me from the environment of my grandparent’s home and keep me with her for weeks at a time. She is the person who saved my life not only by her actions but also by showing me the depths of her heart and the meaning of unconditional love.

My great aunt took me fishing and swimming at the beach, she allowed me to be a child and have fun. She showed me a world without pain or hatred. She fought for me when I needed it most and years later, after her death, I found that she had tried desperately to adopt me but my mother would not allow it. All of her efforts were to be in vain, however, as my life became the materialization of an even darker reality.

My mother had flirted with alcoholism since an early age, and as her circumstances became unstable she embraced drinking as a full time escape from reality. She had developed a proclivity for disappearing for days at a time since we had moved back in with her parents, which left me at the mercy of the abusive practices of her parents and brothers.

During her love affair with being inebriated she met a man named Neale who shared her affinity towards life inside of a bottle. Early one morning the front door burst open and my mother staggered in after being gone for a week. Following a string of profanities, my mother announced she had fallen in love with Neale, and she and I were moving out immediately.

I was soon transported far away from the place I had known so many years, and in the beginning there seemed a genuine possibility that my life would improve. In the beginning Neale showed me kindness that I had not seen in many years.

His demeanor began to change, however, after a month passed as his hugs and back rubs took a darker turn and he began molesting me. I can still remember the smell of his cologne and the sound of his breath as he held me down in my bed as my mother slept in the next room.

At first Neale was apologetic and showered me with gifts after molesting me, as he realized my mother cared only about the infinite depths of the alcoholic haze she dwelled in. It was then things began to spiral into darkness. As detached as my mother had been from my life there still existed an unbreakable bond between us that Neale exploited for his own benefit. It was with threats of ending my mother’s life that he gained my ultimate submission. Neale’s family was wealthy and influential and there was no distance I could travel as a child that could ensure my escape from his control.

This is Part I of a four part Series. Read Part II here.

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Jerome Elam
Jerome Elam is a survivor of child sex trafficking, child abuse, and child pornography. He is also the child of an alcoholic and a child survivor of domestic violence as well as a child of divorce. Raised in the south, Jerome enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at the age of seventeen to escape the nightmare he had become trapped in. That day, Jerome’s life found a new beginning as he embarked upon a journey that would show him the world and open his eyes to the strength of the human spirit. After his enlistment was finished, Jerome attended college and graduated to work in the Biotechnology sector. Motivated by the painful memory of his past, Jerome began to speak out about his abuse and found the healing force of God’s unconditional love and the joy of starting his own family. He is a fierce advocate for all children deprived of their voices, a speaker, a Staff Writer and Columnist for Communities Digital News and a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. When asked to describe his life Jerome says,” I have struggled against many things in my life and somehow I found a way to survive. Writing is my passion and it keeps me in touch with the wealth everyone holds deep inside their hearts and minds. I share my experiences in the hope that those suffering in silence will find the courage to speak out and share their voices. I have been blessed to have God reveal his purpose for me in saving innocent children from predators.”