We are counting down the days to my daughter’s 16th birthday. Sweet Sixteen. But many girls, some even younger, are involved in sex trafficking in the United States. Trafficking is not localized to third world countries and the documentary, The Long Night by Tim Matsui, shares the painful details of girls caught up in this horrible lifestyle.
Located in Seattle, the film follows the lives of Lisa and Natalie who have completely different childhoods, but end up caught in the web of prostitution. Both have been raped, beaten and arrested. Both have felt dirty and shamed. Both have been taken advantage of by men who use psychological tactics to make them feel safe and loved.
There of course is danger. Far worse, I feel, is the psychological damage that comes from selling their bodies. Feeling that there is nothing better that they can do. Believing that they are to blame. Having the weight of rape dumped on them. Feeling that they are less than – human, worthwhile, loveable, etc.
Along with prostitution comes drug use – to escape the reality of their lives, to allow themselves to have sex with strangers, to forget. Some even end up prostituting themselves to pay for drugs.
There is hope. Two police officers come to the realization that these girls are not in “the life” because they choose it. Many of the girls they arrest are minors and sex trafficking is what brought them to the sex trade. When they make an arrest they take the time to talk to the young women to learn their stories. And they offer help. The Genesis Foundation, which they created, provides food, clothing, showers, counseling, drug rehabilitation and just a place to sit for a while.
Ending sex trafficking in the United States takes a community. Learn about it through the film, The Long Night. Get to know Lisa and Natalie. Write about the film. Follow the work of Leaving the Life. Make a donation. Share this post or the websites mentioned.