This week’s guest on Hope, Healing, and WellBeing is Rachel Lloyd, founder of GEMS (Girl Education and Mentoring Services) and the author of the deeply moving memoir Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale, an Activist Finds Her Calling and Heals Herself. Rachel discusses the harm done by the largely misunderstood epidemic of the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the US. Yet, as she demonstrates, it is possible for healing to occur for the young women who have been exposed to the horrors of sex trafficking. Rachel speaks from experience as, beginning at the age of 13, she found herself spiraling into a life of abuse as a victim of commercial sexual exploitation. In this inspiring interview, Rachel shares how she escaped this horrific life and went on to empower other young women to do the same.
Many falsely assume that sex trafficking is only in “other” countries, but it’s right here in the United States. Host Mary Treacy O’Keefe and Rachel Lloyd discuss the annual statistics of girls being lured into prostitution in the US (most of them between the ages of 12 and 14!). How do these young girls become involved in this lifestyle? Does this lifestyle stem from a background of trauma and abuse?
“I thought I was an adult. I was 13 and I thought I could handle everything…” says Rachel of her troubled childhood. Rachel’s emotional vulnerability eventually lead her to a life of domestic trafficking. Rachel then goes on to explain the stigma behind prostitution and why changing the language–the semantics of the term–can help people get past their assumptions and misconceptions on the issue of sexual exploitation.
“Girls have been trained by society, period, but often times by their pimps, not to trust other girls,” says Rachel Lloyd. “Girls come in like ‘I don’t want to be in a program with all girls.'” But, in the end, GEMS becomes their family.
This is an episode that will inspire you like no other Hope, Healing, and WellBeing ever has before. Don’t miss out!