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We are grateful for the partnership of the Women's Fund of Essex County as we work together to promote solutions for survivors of sexual exploitation.

Reorient: Changing the Code, Part 2

Have you ever been caught in a lie? Maybe you told your boss that you were sick, but only said this because you had made plans to be with your friends all day. As you sit down to a fun lunch, your boss walks into the same restaurant and spots you laughing it up. You freeze up and then the weight begins to press into you. What seemed harmless created a mess and possibly cost you your job. 

 

Telling "little white lies" is a normal thing in our society. Our world tells us to self-protect at all costs; transforming the truth to our benefit and protection has become a norm. You want to get ahead in your work? Make sure that your A-game is on and that you play the game of twisted truth well. 

 

The women that we see in our safe home have been forced to take what our society deems as the norm, a little white lie, and have been cultivated into a code where honesty can get you killed. Self-protection at all costs because the truth may just get you a bullet in the head. 

 

This may sound over-the-top, but I have seen the hard truth of living the code of the streets rear its ugly head as she tries to become whole and undivided in herself. It is two forces battling against each other - honesty versus survival instincts. More often than not, we watch their survival instincts win.

 

She wants to trust those who are supporting her, but how can she? Didn't her pimp "support" her? What if we are just lying and out to use her? What if we will just kick her out for messing up? 

 

And yet, we ask for integrity from each of these women. This may seem like an impossibility, but we see it as the only way for her to truly restore her life. What we ask from her is not easy, but we never said it would be. We have told her that we will support her each day as she makes this tough choice.

 

When we constantly live our life by telling lies, whether to self-protect or to get ahead of others, we are dividing ourselves. There is pressure both in ourselves and from outside forces to keep the game up. Cracks begin to form as the pressure mounts, and we can become our worst enemies. 

 

When she was trapped in the cycle of exploitation, she lived according to the code. This code kept her alive - so she was never fully honest with anyone. Doctors, police, friends, family, fellow addicts, service providers: they all fell into a lump of people that she had to keep walled off from the truth. This code built a wall and that wall came with a weight that no one can sustain.

 

We believe that breaking this wall down and allowing each woman to experience living with integrity is transformative. It allows her to see that trust can be built; that imperfect people can still make mistakes, but that this does not mean that life should be lived divided. 

 

 

This post is a part of a series on "Changing the Code."

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