She was just 18, figuring out her path. She was enrolled in community college, majoring in journalism. She dreamed of becoming a writer. Then she met this guy. He was good looking, had money, lots of it, and bling - even Jesus bling. She had just been dumped, and he seemed interesting and safe.
“I was 18 years old. I just graduated from a vocational high school and passed the test in front of the cosmetology board. I was excited to be a licensed hairdresser and was attending a community college, majoring in journalism. I wanted to be a writer and move to New York someday, maybe write for one of those big name magazines.”
But my dreams quickly faded as I got involved with a guy I met at a local nightclub. It was just a regular Friday or Saturday night; me and my girls were already drunk before we entered the club with our fake ID’s. We were having a good time, dancing and pushing away any whack-ass dudes that tried to step to us. Then this guy walked up to us, and he knew one of my friend's boyfriends so he was automatically cool.
He bought her things, paid attention, made her feel special, and she began to trust. She thought he was her boyfriend. And he was “cool," a friend of a friend. He convinced her she could do anything she wanted.
How often do we hear that? You can do anything. Anything you set your mind too, anything, you dream about - you can make it happen. I’ve told that to my kids and to myself countless times. And I believe it to be true - but I believe that it’s harder for many of us than others. Vulnerability plays a huge role.
Jasmine wasn’t so lucky. She was young, on her own and craving love and connection. Don’t we all? Isn’t our DNA set up for that? How is it then that a smart girl, a graduate of cosmetology school, a licensed hairdresser, enrolled in college, and seeking her future go down a different path?
Jasmine’s story is like many stories from survivors of sex trafficking. The circumstances may be different, but the stories all have similar threads. Vulnerability is one of those threads, and any one of us can be vulnerable. This week, many in our great nation are feeling vulnerable. Many others are feeling empowered, because they felt vulnerable before.
What are the circumstances that lead to vulnerability? Too numerous to name in this blog. We’ve begun to explore those questions with the kids in the A5 Club at Medfield High School. They’re talking about objectification of women as a social norm, which can lead to vulnerability.
What was Jasmine’s?
Jasmine Grace Marino, Founder of Bags of Hope will be speaking at UCC Medfield, this Thursday at 7 pm. She will tell us how she was trafficked, became addicted to drugs, and eventually overcame the triple stigmas of prostitution, addiction, and homelessness. She will speak candidly about how faith influenced her and how her struggles eventually landed her a seat in a 12-step program, a job in the anti-trafficking movement, and a place in a community church.
To learn more: Trafficked, Recovered, Redeemed
Books will be available for purchase and donation to
Bags of Hope
Bags of Hope
Or on Amazon, The Diary of Jasmine Grace
Sponsored by Amilia’s Light.
For more information:
Amilia’s Light: www.amiliaslight.org
Michelle Luhrmann firstname.lastname@example.org