STORYTIME: I almost got sex trafficked
This is one of those weeks I wish this was a click bait-y title, but it isn't.
For those of you who don't live in the area, the DMV (D.C, Maryland, and Virginia) has been seized by sex trafficking. Just a few months ago, 34 young black women were kidnapped in D.C., thought to be in connection with sex trafficking. That's the only context you need.
Oh wait, that, and my dog.
A few weeks back I was thinking about my dog, Tobie. If you know me at all, you know Tobie is like the light of my world. He's not just a good boy, he's the best boy.
So I was thinking about Tobie and how bad I felt that 95% of his life is spent in the same area. Downstairs, upstairs, around the property— that's all Tobie knows. So I decided to take him on a long, adventurous walk. I was going to let him lead the way and we'd go wherever he wanted in the neighborhood. It was the beginning of the summer, clearly I had a lot of time on my hands.
I laced up my running shoes, got Tobie's leash, and we were off. I started out with a light jog following Tobie up the street, but that ended real quick. Who am I kidding? If I wanted to run, I'd be on the treadmill.
It was at this time that a black SUV rolled past me. I thought nothing of it.
That is, until, I noticed the SUV go to the end of my street and pull a U Turn. The SUV pulled up next to me, and I immediately felt uncomfortable. There were two gentlemen (that's a loose term) in the car, and as they rolled their window down I saw that one of them was either taking pictures of me or recording me.
Now you might be thinking, "Skye, now how in the heck do you know these guys were taking pictures of you?"
It's pretty obvious, though, when someone is holding their phone out the window sideways.
I didn't even have the chance to tell them to stop, because immediately they started asking me a million questions.
"Do you know where street X is?"
"Are we on J street right now?"
"Can you point us in the right direction?"
So being the nice Christian I am, I'm trying to answer their questions and give them directions. But it soon became clear to me that the questions were complete BS. They were asking a lot of common sense questions that they'd know if they just looked at the street signs.
"What street is this?"
The questions then began to take a different turn, and they began asking me if I wanted a job.
Immediately I started walking away, and politely told them I have a job and don't need one. They said okay and slowly rolled their car next to me. I told them goodbye and started dialing my mom's phone number. Once they saw that I was on the phone, they drove away.
Needless to say, I was shook.
With my voice shaking on the phone I start telling my mom what happened. My eyes are following the SUV as it drives away, but even then I noticed them driving towards my house. I was afraid to stay outside and I was afraid to go home. I didn't want them to know where I lived, but I sure as hell didn't want to be stuck outside like a sitting duck.
I had only made it 1/5 of the way up my street before this nonsense started, so I felt bad for Tobie mostly. His adventure had been cut short, and his owner was a freaked out mess. I resolved to have 911 ready and just go home. If I saw anything suspicious I'd just hit dial.
So I went back in my house, making sure to close the garage and lock the doors behind me.
Like the coward I am, I let Tobie go inside before me.
I tiptoed through each room of my house with a can of air freshener in my hand as a weapon. Needless to say I'm glad there weren't any intruders, because what would I have done? Sprayed them to death?
I felt unsafe in my home and in my neighborhood for a little while after that. I was having trouble sleeping because I kept thinking, "What if they saw where I lived? What if they decided to wait until night time to take me?"
I'm currently interning with an international non-profit focused on youth leadership. Part of the internship allows for lunch and learns, and the most recent one we had was focused on sex trafficking: how to detect signs if someone is sex trafficking/being sex trafficked, how to end sex trafficking, and how to help sex trafficking survivors.
Perhaps the most upsetting part in that lunch and learn was seeing just how vulnerable I was walking Tobie. It was the middle of the day, no one was around. I could've been snatched up and never heard from again.
But I learned a lot from that little seminar, like what the sex trafficking hotline is and what to do in those situations from now on.
So to end:
Here's the sex trafficking hotline: 1-888-3737-888
Here's some general advice: Be aware of your surroundings. Look out for your friends, your children, your classmates, your roommate— anyone. Learn the signs. Help out others facing this issue.
Don't assume your neighborhood is safe like I did.