Last month I finally sat down and watched the rest of the documentary, Stopping Traffic. I had previously watched the first half a month earlier. I believe that I have had it in my Amazon Prime watch list for more than a year, so it really took some time to muster up the emotions or triggers that I thought may arise. And, I just wanted the appropriate time and headspace to be able to sit through it and take it all in.
If you don’t know my story, somewhere along my journey in my early 20s I became a high-class call girl in Hollywood. It was the early 90s and I had been driving in from Huntington Beach, California with a friend to go to the Roxbury nightclub in West Hollywood. That’s where I met my future pimp. He had apartments over the years that girls would work out of seeing movie producers, executives, doctors, rich international college students, and some other wealthy men. It wasn’t until my girlfriend died that I made the move to Hollywood, unknowingly being lured into this life of prostitution.
It was a hard time in my life because I had never lost someone close to me and I was at a crossing point, of moving back in with my parents which was toxic or moving up to the City of Angels. So, even now 20+ years later, it still affects me.
I wrote about prostitution in college, while I was in the business. It was the impetus of writing my memoir, Evolving to Grace. I have had many large and brief thoughts and discussions on the topic of prostitution. The feelings I have for myself was that prostituting myself ate away at my soul and what little self-worth I had. It even had me dive back into a very familiar mindset, suicidal depression. What’s worse, it even almost got me hurt.
So, it was a big deal to watch this, maybe not just so that I can explore my thoughts again on my own experience, but the real bigger picture which is human trafficking. Were they going to merge prostitution in with human trafficking? I was curious about other people’s thoughts and what they are trying to address.
Human trafficking has been a huge topic over the last years. The media and organizations have spotlighted the side of human trafficking which includes children being sold for sex. But, human trafficking is much more than that.
Based on the Department of Homeland Security, *Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide – including right here in the United States. It can happen in any community and victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality. Traffickers might use violence, manipulation, or false promises of well-paying jobs or romantic relationships to lure victims into trafficking situations.
Stopping Traffic, the documentary that can be viewed on Amazon Prime or downloaded on itunes, was focusing on children (including teenagers) sold, whether it be for labor, but typically, mainly for sex. This is by far the worst part of human trafficking and I believe that it is worse than any agency believes. It’s horrible and sad and I think more needs to be done about it. It needs to be spoken more in the mainstream and like the documentary addressed, it’s not just happening over there, in that country. It is happening all over the United States.
While I was in that life, I briefly met some girls that were a little younger than I. I was in my early twenties. I think they were over the age of eighteen, but I can not be for sure. They were girls that had a pimp that had a complete network of girls that traveled from city to city, walking the streets or running ads looking for work. It was very different from my situation. When they spoke about their situation, they made it seem like they were active, willing, participants, but even at my young age, I felt like that really wasn’t the case. There was fear behind their words when they would share their world, their life. Not only fear, but also no way to get out.
Stopping Traffic was a good documentary to show some sides and personal opinions of what can be done to “stopping human trafficking“. I don’t think though that they made a clear enough separate distinction between prostitution that is forced, coerced, and the sex work/trade industry. But, when it came to how and why some children end up being trafficked, they did an excellent job of addressing that. And, the creators and spokespersons on the film gave options on how the viewer can help and be aware.
As far as prostitution goes, there are so many different types of prostitution. Yes, forced or fraudulently coerced of any child and individual should be punished and stopped immediately, but the sex trade/sex work (also prostitution) industry shouldn’t necessarily be woven into human trafficking which I felt the film had a grey area when they spoke about it. It’s a broader picture to explore with many varying levels to it. Maybe for someone to make a documentary about.
I’ll write more about prostitution and sex work at a later time.
But for now, I suggest watching Stopping Traffic. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.