Alex is a labor trafficking survivor from North Carolina. Born in Hong Kong and raised mostly in Europe, she was trafficked in the U.S. as a minor by an adoptive parent. Alex’s submission is a poem based on her experience.
These are the things you don’t forget:
The crack of Barbie’s leg when it snaps;
your mother’s hand ripping her smooth, long limb
from her pelvis, a dead twig from a tree branch.
How much you miss the weight of your dark, silky hair
the first time it’s shorn; how boyish,
and unpretty you are now.
The itch of cheap wool on your arms in mid-summer;
where yellow and green checkered shirtsleeves
hide your bruises in a layer of trapped heat.
How far spit travels from angry lips, and how it sticks
to your cheek as it dries there, glue-like,
before you’re finally allowed to wash it off.
The rub of stinging nettles against your calves and thighs,
Hot, then cold, then hot again, before slowing to numbness,
Proof of all the hours you were forced to sit there.
How much your sister’s back, covered in welts,
Crisscrossed like a lattice growing blood orange,
Reminds you of the Crucifixion.
The way flashlights shine too bright and too hot
When directed at your private parts,
How your fingers are too small to cover up your shame.
How naturally hatred rises up and down with each breath,
as Mummy says she can’t stand the sight of you; and how alarmed
you are, at seven years old, that you feel this way.
Alex is a labor trafficking survivor from North Carolina. Born in Hong Kong and raised mostly in Europe, she was trafficked in the U.S. as a minor by an adoptive parent. While living with her trafficker, she was denied education and forced to work as an unpaid, domestic house slave. Since her rescue in 2005, she has become an avid anti-trafficking advocate in her local community, helping to educate, inform and spread awareness about the issue in classrooms, churches and advocacy events. She graduated cum laude from Elon University in 2012, interned with International Justice Mission in 2013 and now works as a senior editor for a B2B magazine.