Dressember?

People are wearing a dress/tie for the entire month of December to end human trafficking. Ludicrous.

What do a bunch of white suburban upper-class women and men know about eradicating human trafficking? What do they know about pain and suffering and facing death to escape it? And they’re trying to solve this massive, WORLD-WIDE PROBLEM, simply by wearing a dress/tie? Doubtful.

Ouch… harsh words.

Unfortunately these are my own thoughts. Thoughts that have passed in and out of my head for the past couple of years.

Sometimes I’m a really horrible person. I’m cynical. Judgmental. Irrational. Sometimes I’m passionate in all the wrong places. Passion which usually tends to be from the comfort of my own home. Sometimes I’m debilitated by ignorance and fear.

After much reflection, what I’m left with is this:

Silence does more harm than good. Silence harbors and grows ignorance. Ignorance never solved… healed… repaired anything.

I’ve realized that my avoidance and hesitance in helping this cause (many causes) has been more about my own fear than about knowledge, wisdom, and fighting for love.

To me, wearing a dress for a month means facing the reality that I lived. It means entering into a place of darkness that I have long sought to escape. A place filled with loneliness and silence and shame.

I ran away from home twice as a teenager. The second time I ran away, I lived amongst the drug-infested and gang-infected streets of San Diego. I was found by two men that promised adventure, fun, and protection. These men trafficked me for their own benefit. I was a pawn to satiate their addictions. My friend knew of strength and wisdom. She went home the second day. I was alone, scared, lost, and owned for ten days. My reality had become a nightmare and I felt trapped. I was never given words to describe the scenario in which I was now living. I went from the comfort of my own room, in a home, in a friendly neighborhood to some shady motel room, sleeping on a downtown park bench, in a freezing-cold baseball dugout, squatting in an abandoned-graffiti-covered home, in a tiny apartment filled with cockroaches, with a single mom and her children in their dirty apartment without power, taken by a man one night in his home while his family photo – with wife and kids – hung on the wall behind him. The man that owned me convinced me to go back to the location with the single man that had a gun next to loads of cash and crack cocaine. “We” planned on offering myself to him again so that I could grab his gun, kill him, and run off with his drugs and cash. Though it was only an hour later, that man never answered our persistent and confident knocking on the windows and door of his home. I was so close to death. My life became crack cocaine in exchange for access to my body. I witnessed wads of cash in proximity to large knives and drugs and guns. A simple and exciting ditch day with a peer from school turned into the trauma-filled life of a scared 15 year old under the ownership of The Powerful.

Dear God. What the HELL kind of impact can I make on this horror, simply by wearing a dress/tie for a month?!

Wearing a dress/tie will never eradicate human trafficking. Wearing a dress/tie will not stop teenage girls from entering a dangerous situation of being sex trafficked. Wearing a dress/tie will not miraculously make traffickers turn their lives around. At least, not in and of itself.

I’ve learned that wearing a dress/tie every day will generate questions. Wearing a dress/tie every day will generate conversations. Wearing a dress/tie every day will generate awareness. And maybe in that awareness, we’ll find the person that ends up figuring out the solution to break down the massive construct of human trafficking. Maybe in that awareness, we may actually end up saving teenage girls from entering down the dark path that I was on as a teenager. Maybe awareness will give courage to the person that is currently trapped in a human trafficking situation. Maybe wearing a dress/tie will bring awareness to the point that it will give courage to those feeling trapped: courage to stand up, to escape, and — in bravery, knowing they aren’t alone — to live a better life.

So here I am… showing up with my two daughters. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll wear a dress/tie for 31 days and contribute to ending human trafficking.

I’m used to people telling me ‘no’. But what I’m not used to them telling me is ‘yes’, but that’s because I’ve been afraid for most of my life. Afraid to even ask, to even try. So here I am asking. I’m asking you to link arms with me. Whatever you do, DO NOT echo my mistakes in refusing to help due to your own ignorance or arrogance or fear.

Help raise awareness.

Help be a voice to the voiceless.

Help be strength for the weak.

Help share healing for the broken.

Be a light in the darkness.

Disseminate Love.

https://dressember.funraise.org/fundraiser/jen-smith

https://dressember.funraise.org/