When working with our girls at Scarlet Road I am often faced with this question: How do we stop the fear that crushes the dreams of each of our girls’ potential? Aristotle defines fear in an elegantly appropriate way, “fear is the pain arising from the anticipation of evil.” While fear has the potential to keep us safe and protected, so much so that we teach our children to have a healthy fear of the world around us, it can be the worst enemy for women and girls coming out of the sex trade and trafficking.
Fear takes many forms. It can be fear from an abuser, from violence and manipulation. Fear can even be found in the world around trafficked women and the shame they experience on a daily basis knowing that their vocation has ostracized them from society; or it can be the worst kind of fear, the fear of ourselves. The fear of not trusting our instincts, of not believing that we are worth enough to be loved and cared for, and fear that our hurts can never heal.
Fear has the capacity to keep us paralyzed forever, hindering us from living our lives fully. I can’t shake the feeling that fear seems to be such a reoccurring theme with the girls I am working with lately. One is afraid that she won’t stay safe from her abuser, so anxiety rules every moment she is in public; another is afraid of the unknown and what change in her life would look like, so she chooses to continue self-destructive habits simply because they are known. All of our girls are afraid that someone from their old life will recognize them in their new life and their past will be confronted.
Deep down, I think most of us are afraid of ourselves, we lack confidence in our identity. That is where the beauty of our Savior lies and where we, no matter who we are or what our past is, can and do find infinite hope.
After just passing through the Easter season I reflected on the identity that we can have in Christ and the unending love that he pours out to cover and take away the pain in our lives. This is the true hope that we have to offer to any of the young women who come through our program. It doesn’t mean that their pain will completely evaporate. It doesn’t mean that life won’t be a struggle and that our physical surroundings will be calm. We can most assuredly assume life will continue to hit us hard at times. Some fears won’t disappear. But with Jesus, our greatest fears that crush our identity and purpose are exposed and cast out. Truth is what brings us to a place of ultimate freedom from fear. My prayer is that every girl who walks through the doors of Scarlet Road would experience this Freedom.
Rosie Ludlow is one of the co-founders and the director of community engagement at Scarlet Road, a small non profit supporting girls as they transition out of the sex industry in the West Puget Sound area of Washington State. We serve girls through a variety of ways offering a holistic aftercare program to help with the complex transition from exploitation to freedom and independence.