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Slave to Secret Traumas

“He told me to get in the car and they'd show me the ropes. And I said ‘okay,’” said Rebekah. “I found myself in the back seat of a car, being told exactly how to ask people to have sex with me and exactly how much money I had to charge them. My entire world flipped upside down on top of me.”

Rebekah was 17 when she got swept up in the world of sex trafficking. A few years prior, she had moved away from her strict Christian home in Texas, where even God’s love had to be earned.

“Grew up in this environment of having to perform,” Rebekah said of her upbringing, "I had to have this perfect identity and always do what was expected of me.”

Which is why she kept secret the pain of life’s traumas - her brother’s suicide, being molested at age 10, and raped at age 14 by someone she trusted.

“It didn't matter that I was doing what was expected of me. There were still terrible things happening to me,” she said with exasperation. “Felt like my only value to people was my body and what they could take from me. And just these repeated instances of men abusing their power and control over me.”

By 17 she had moved out, dropped out of school, and was moving towards drug addiction now living with her dealers. To pay her way, she worked at a strip club.

“I didn’t know who I was. [And] If you don’t have a strong sense of identity, then you'll let anyone else dictate it to you,” Rebekah said plainly. “And I had all these terrible experiences telling me I was worthless.”

Rebekah needed hope, and for her, it came in the form of a cheap suit and a nice smile. The man promised her drugs, protection and love.

“It doesn't take very much love and attention to make you feel valuable,” she admitted. “Just the fact that he wanted me to come live with him. That felt like I was worth something, and that he saw what I was doing, and he was gonna get me out of it.”

Prince charming’s facade quickly faded, as he coerced Rebekah into prostitution. Fear and shame kept her trapped and silent.

“No idea what to do. Questions get you killed. You know, I remember after the first day thinking, ‘how could I ever look my mom and dad in the face again,’” she tearfully, questioned. “You know, ‘how could I ever tell them what's happening to me? How would anybody ever understand?’”

Rebekah would spend the next 10 years moving from state to state, a victim of sex trafficking. Her only taste of freedom came from her stints in prison.

“It [prison] was the first time in eight years, at that point, that I was able to sleep every night. You know, the first time I ate three meals a day, and I didn't have people touching me that I didn't want touching me.” Rebekah continued, “My value was what people were willing to pay me for my body.”

At age 28 she would escape her trafficker’s grasp, when he was sentenced to two years in prison for tax evasion. Rebekah fled to Las Vegas, where she met a new boyfriend and got pregnant.

“I knew I had to change. I knew I didn’t want to raise a baby in that environment. I remember I was in the shower, just crying and not having any idea of how I was gonna get away, or what I was gonna do with my life when I did get away,” she said at her lowest.

“For the first time in a long time, I started feeling burdened to pray. I just prayed for a way out. I just prayed for a way to change my life so I could raise my baby differently,” Rebekah said. “Because I wasn't willing to change for myself. But I was for my baby. And I knew I needed God. I knew I couldn't do it on my own.”

A few weeks later in early 2012, Rebekah went home to Texas where her family took her in with loving, supporting arms. Then at church one day with her family, she learned all she had believed about God, was wrong.

“Learning a different version of God, a God that actually has a ton of grace for me, you know, and that loves me right in the middle of my mess, and that I don’t have to perform for.” She smiled and said, “He wants a relationship with me in my deepest darkest places.”

She soon accepted Christ, and later that year gave birth to her son, Isaiah. Rebekah is now the Executive Director of Valiant Hearts, a ministry dedicated to eradicating sexual exploitation. She no longer hides her past as she lives in the present, as a child of God.

“I am His beloved. I have value simply because I exist,” she said with confidence. “No matter how many times I mess up, or fail or fall down, He's always there waiting patiently, for me to look up to Him and realize like, ‘Hey God, I need you.’

Rebekah has completed a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice and trains law enforcement and community officials about the signs and dangers of human trafficking. For more information on Rebekah and ‘Valiant Hearts,’ click here.

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