Elaine - you think this is about me. It's not.
Our hotline takes more calls than yours. We're older than yours and we've been in more countries longer than yours also. No we don't put up billboards - because that's not where the people who need us will see our number. From what I've read you aren't getting many calls from real victims off those billboards either. We get our number out in more covert manners because that's how to reach our target members. But that doesn't mean we don't exist - it just means we operate differently than you are.
Which is because we don't just take calls from trafficking victims. We take calls from anyone who wants to leave sex work for any reason - of which trafficking is one. I was organizing rescue missions back in 1984 which got me and my mother arrested and splashed all over the press as "madams". I had the government confiscate everything I owned and I spent $250,000 on a legal defense. All because the pimp of a woman I'd helped retaliated by calling the police and claiming our safe house was a brothel.
To get them empowered, and to get them speaking out, and to show them they have a voice and they matter, I listen to them. I then have to encourage them to tell others how they feel. Only for them this is a scary process sometimes as they have been horribly attacked often when doing so. Some have seen people murdered for speaking up about how they feel. So sometimes to encourage them and get them used to speaking at all - I assure them they can through our social media using my name. So I have an account where 20 different members may be speaking separately or together in order for me to get them used to expressing themselves. It has my name on it - but it's their voices on it combined. It's why many of the posts are so long - 10 people are all contributing to the string.
Now while I'm doing this - Polaris has consistently ignored us since the day they opened their doors. My phone calls and emails SINCE DAY ONE have been ignored. I watched as when you first launched your resource directory you listed Hookers for Jesus, BUT NOT US. Now I don't know if you saw going on in Las Vegas what we saw but if you did then you'd know what a slap in the face that was to us.
Polaris has not invited us to one event they've held or organized - ever. You have sent people into towns where we have chapters, and where I live, and not one of you have picked up the phone and asked if we could go to coffee. We have been at the same meetings as your representatives - who won't look us in the eye, won't speak to us, and won't acknowledge our presence. We have ASKED your people to coffee with us in those towns - and the minute they hear this person is a SWA member - they are blown off. We have never been invited to a TV show you've been on, a panel you're appeared on, not one single thing have you ever included us or even acknowledged us.
Aubrey is a brave woman. After she testified at this hearing and won, she came home to find her power, TV, cable, internet, etc., turned off for 3 days just as mine had been after I gave that press conference. She persevered anyway and set up a SWA meeting in northern Nevada to replace the one Sharnel had to drop when she got framed on a false charge and was sent to prison for five years.
Only everywhere we turn - we're not invited. When we ask to be invited - we're declined. When we show up anyway - we're threatened by security to leave the building. Not just me mind you Elaine BUT US. Anyone who says they're a member of SWA is shunned, threatened, attacked, ignored, or otherwise shut out. So when I hear you're doing something in Florida and our Florida members would like to be involved - I reach out to your office to see about arranging that. Only to get no response at all.
We've sent your newsletter/blog items which are never published. We've sent your office urgent alerts that are never responded to. We have tried to open up dialogues with people who say they work with you that are never responded to. We've come to you with cases we've working on - only to get no response back.
So when you're putting together things like a council of survivors to advise on the issues - we don't receive an invitation to see if any of our members would like to be included. When you're doing reports on the issues - we don't see any inquiries from us to input on anything you're researching. We have seen you mention other groups who are less than a year old - but I have YET to see one mention of our work or our name anywhere. I have scanned your site, your social media, your blogs, things you hand out at meetings - and I don't see our name anywhere.
When trainings are put together for the field - we're not included. When training materials are put together for the field - we're not included. When booklets and other written materials or resource guides are put together - we're not included. As a result, we also hear the complaints. I don't think you do but we do. Because we're the ones people who want to complain about you come to when they're asking us for something you don't have. Since we don't have a paid staff it would be a lot easier for us to just be included in the materials in the first place - but no. All of our offers to be involved are unresponded to.
To top it off, anywhere we turn we're told by people who receive money from Katherine Chon, Bradley's wife, that if they even so much as SPEAK to us - they're worried they will lose their funding or be fired. What's worse is everyone who has - has been in fact fired. To name but one, we had a social worker in Las Vegas who was the head of her department for 12 years organize a workshop for us to train the workers in how to speak to these young girls, many of who are third generation victims, pregnant with their mom's pimp's, baby, and the minute she put out the flyer for the workshop - she was fired. Believe me the message was sent NOT to call Sex Workers Anonymous.
Now you know who suffers from that? The girls. Because again your hotline is set up for TRAFFICKING victims while ours is set up to help someone exit the sex industry. So we are going to get calls you don't like from women who don't have pimps - but want to quit just the same. Who now are being told by Las Vegas social workers and probation officers the only thing they have is an ankle bracelet to monitor them. They're not being told we can offer them sponsors, meetings, a Recovery Guide, or someone to drive them to NA meetings either to keep them out of trouble after school.
We have seen interview after interview from Polaris on cases we're actively involved in where we're not included in this article by Polaris in any way. I mean let's face it - YOU'RE IGNORING US.
NOT ME - US.
Please don't lecture me on what's "helpful". We have been trying since 2002 to open up a dialogue with your office. So this isn't because one of our members popped off about how they felt on your page in frustration about yet again not being included in a meeting that is about us and affects us but for some reason doesn't want us around for that discussion. Again, not me - US. Do you have any idea how many members I have in Los Angeles alone who would love to show up at some of these meetings?
And then to see yet one more meeting being organized ABOUT US that doesn't include US. Then when we let you know we're not happy about being ignored to get some lecture from you like we're children about "appropriate" behavior? You know what Elaine - any day my members can get through without drinking, using, acting out, or shooting themselves in the head is a day when I don't criticize how they express their feelings when someone is ignoring them. Especially when we're tried to tell you about problems long before they hit the news.
The case of Joohoon David Lee in Las Vegas? We tried getting ahold of someone in your office about that case back in 2013. http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/las-vegas/las-vegas-restaurateur-says-former-fed-manufactured-criminal-case-against-him He might have been caught sooner had you responded.
All things, and more, that should be things being discussed at a meeting about this subject being held that we posted a comment about it under the page.
So if you don't like what was done - take a look at your own behavior before lecturing us. Because we did it because we're tired of being ignored and then what do we do? We got home and commiserate with each other. Then nothing changes.
Only we're going to make sure then that people know we're being ignored. Then you can explain it to them because you're sure not explaining it to us. You want to blame it all on a comment put on your page a short time ago? Fine. But then explain everything else that led up to the frustration that went into that comment then Elaine.
Our members are tired of being ignored. They're frankly beginning to feel like they're back in the presence of their old pimps who would ignore them also. Especially when we're being "chastised" for expressing how we feel to you which is how we felt when that comment was posted. Instead of respecting our feelings and maybe taking a look at what prompted it on your end - we then get judged, shut down, and basically ignored because I don't see an invite to the event included in your chastisement of our actions.
Now I'm sorry Polaris doesn't feel that way about us. But if I"m wrong Elaine - then you show me one single invitation to any event, meeting, training, committee, etc. we've been invited to or offered to be included in? Since 2002 - show me.
Then you can talk to me about how "out of line" our feelings are about this issue. Especially since the grants you receive wouldn't have been possible without the hard work and sacrifice we put into this field. You want the money? Fine. But you don't want to include us in a field that's about us in any way, shape or form, and then you want to contribute to us being excluded from the table on issues that affect us by ignoring us = well then I"m sorry but we're done being polite about it.
Then when we confront the counselor about why she did that to this survivor, we get told "because our clinic survives off grant money from the federal government that's why". Pointing to grant money the clinic receives from the Trafficking in Persons' Office.
But when people like them are ignoring us, well then turning to you to see you also are ignoring us - then this has reached a point where it's no longer just harming us survivors Elaine - but everyone.