As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Linda Cavanah is the founder and Director of All Things New, a ministry for women coming out of prostitution and trafficking. In what I regard as a singular act of courage, she volunteered to write a guest post for Public Catholic telling the truth of what “sex-work” really is. The result is a first-hand, no-holds-barred witness to the reality of prostitution. Here, in her own words, is her story
.… anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone, and a new life has begun.
My name is Linda Cavanah, and I am the founder of All Things New Inc., a faith-based organization providing residential services for victims of sex trafficking.
All Things New exists because of the healing power of Jesus Christ in my own life many years ago when I was one of the women we are now serving.
My cycle of sexual abuse began at the age of 14 when an uncle raped me in my parent’s home. I was too frightened to tell my parents what had happened and held everything inside for many years. At that time, I did not realize how devastating that event was to become in my life, leading to a succession of problems emotionally and spiritually. Eventually, the things that were hidden deep within me escalated into a dual addiction of alcohol and cocaine.
My first marriage lasted two years and ended in divorce. I then promptly entered into a common law marriage, and it was during this union that my ex-husband and I began dealing drugs. The drug addiction increased over the next couple of years until I was drinking approximately 13 alcoholic beverages and snorting several lines of cocaine on a daily basis. This marriage also ended in divorce.
I do need to say that both of these unions were not true marriages because we were all addicts and they were not ordained of God.
I moved to New Orleans in 1980 and lived there for several years. I managed a restaurant and hotel on the outskirts of the French Quarter, and continued the downward spiral in my life. it was during this time that I became involved with the owners of the hotel, and my addictions had increased to the point of having delirium tremors if I did not get up and have a drink at 2am every morning.
One night we had a party at the hotel, and I went and had sex with one of the owners. The next morning I woke up and there was a pile of money beside my bed. In the prostitution world, this is similar to being “jumped” into a gang.
There were six men involved in the operation. They each had their own business and then had one together. All of the men each had a woman, and one had control over me. I was sold to cops in New Orleans (used as hush money) to keep them quiet. I had to watch pornographic films and then perform those same acts, all the while enduring painful sexual acts behind closed doors.
I wanted to run but there was no way to escape. We were not allowed to use a phone and I was trapped, both physically and emotionally. I was being “groomed” to be a madame for them, and I wanted out so badly. They told me they would kill me if I ever said anything, and they meant it.
Even though I did not know Jesus at the time, I know He had his hand on me. I was able to leave the situation through the help of another person, and I am still here to tell this story today! I was a single mother to two children, and decided to go to nursing school. I had a Christian nursing instructor and within a few months I came to know Jesus.
I was immediately delivered from alcohol and drugs, and have had a continual healing from the emotional wounds of my past. Last Easter I was confirmed in the Catholic Church.
God has changed my life and I am eternally grateful. However, there are hundreds of thousands of young women and girls who are trapped in the horrible world of sex trafficking/prostitution. Anyone who is forced to have sex with other people, is severely beaten and/or has to turn the money over to someone who has control of them is a victim of sex trafficking. Prostitution and sex trafficking are the same thing.
Sex trafficking is slavery. Young women and girls are made to stand on street corners, or in a room in front of a potential john, and they feel like they are on an auction block, sold to the highest bidder. They endure eyes full of lust staring at their bodies, up and down, up and down, men sizing them up like a horse, not caring anything about them, just looking for their next sexual fix. Inside, the girl is slowly dying emotionally, and probably physically.
I want you to understand that prostitution/sex trafficking is the rape of the body and the soul. Pimps, traffickers and johns are rapists. Some of them are also murderers.
Ninety percent of the prostituted women we have helped have had a forced abortion. They are physically held down in the place they are trapped in, and an abortion is performed on them. Included in this statistic are those women who are beaten until their babies die. These monsters are murderers! The traffickers starve the women, tell them when they can eat, what they can eat and if they don’t bring in a certain quota, they don’t eat at all.
About a year ago I was called to talk to a young woman who had been severely beaten by a john. She was black and blue from the top of her head to her feet, and was eating bowl after bowl of food. She said the john had thrown her against a wall and her pimp got mad at HER, so he had not let her eat for several days. Her pimp found out through one of his other girls where she was at, and I found out later that day he drug her by the hair down a street. The next day she was unrecognizable and the pimp had her out on the street. Men were still buying her.
Another girl was trapped in a house. Her trafficker put her in a bathtub of cold water, poured several pitchers of ice on her, held her down until she started bleeding, then threw her against a wall and beat her until she passed out.
We have women who were forced underground and sold twenty to twenty five times a day. One woman had been trapped for 16 days in an apartment with her tormentors and they had sold her 400 times. Four hundred times she had been raped!
Women who are victims of sex trafficking feel like a piece of meat. They are so degraded and traumatized that they sometimes never recover. Their souls and their lives have been stolen. They are dead inside. Multiple personalities abound. How else can they survive? Despair runs deep and hopelessness abounds. These victims have a tendency to blame everything on themselves and they don’t realize it is not their fault. They feel they are falling into a dark, deep bottomless pit.
At the bottom of it all is the pornography that fuels the fire for the demand side of sex trafficking and prostitution.
Can you hear the cries of the human beings who are being sold?
All Things New is a 501c3 non profit corporation.
Donations are tax-deductible.
Send donations to:
All Things New, Inc.
PO Box 513
San Antonio, TX 78292