603597_449568318466984_320763029_nI found out today you can buy a book for around $5 that teaches you how to be a pimp. Seriously, takes you through a strategy to target girls between the ages of 12-18 years old! Teaches the reader how to recognize the vulnerable ones, how to talk to them, gain their trust, slowly, methodically building a relationship which, eventually leads the reader to selling them for their own personal gain.

The average age of U.S. children being forced into prostitution is 12-14 years old! These children report being given a quota from their trafficker/pimp of 10-15 buyers a night!! At that age I was still secretly playing with Barbies and having sleepovers at my friend’s houses, not worrying about meeting a nightly quota of sexual buyers!! My mind can’t comprehend this.

A few weeks ago, when I was in the Seattle area, I met an awesome young woman named Rosie. Now, Rosie has been working with women who are sexually exploited for years. In fact, Rosie and two friends decided to do more than just talk about the problem, they wanted to help be the solution, so they founded Scarlet Road a non-profit dedicated to empowering the victims of sexual exploitation.

Rosie Ludlow, co-founder of Scarlet Road.

Rosie Ludlow, co-founder of Scarlet Road.

They started with awareness, talking to their community in Kitsap County about the issues and the resources needed to help girls and women get out of the sex industry. They held a 5k run a few years in a row to raise awareness, they talked with police departments, schools, juvenile detention centers and city hall, networking to bring education to a population that didn’t think their was a problem in their neighborhood.

They started with establishing relationships with the women and girls who were vulnerable to being exploited, by going to the strip clubs, drive-thru semi-topless espresso stands, jail/juvenile hall, essentially meeting them wherever they were at. They let them know that they cared about them by listening to them, helping them with resources, letting them know there was a way out, and if they wanted out of the lifestyle, they were there to help them.

Rosie told me about *Sara, the youngest girl Scarlet Road has helped to date. *Sara was 12 years old when Scarlet Road was contacted by the juvenile detention center about her.

“Authorities deemed her “at risk” since she was in and out of juvenile hall. She was a tough one. Rebellious, didn’t want any help. Her family is part of a very violent gang, and by the age of 12 she was already involved in prostitution, recruiting for prostitution, drugs and alcohol, and had committed various assaults.”

They began visiting *Sara on a regular basis at juvenile hall.

“When Jana and Victoria (the other two co-founders) started meeting with her she was pretty antagonistic, but after a while she began to open up, and they would talk to her about anything and everything.”

A friendship was developed. They helped her set goals and mentored her on how to make good decisions. Then Child Protective Services placed *Sara in a foster home away from the elements that were so destructive in her life. She blossomed. She began to do well in school and settled into her new life. After a year or so, her mother got custody and brought Sara back home. Scarlet Road was concerned that Sara would slip back into her old lifestyle.

In the few years since she has lived back at home, Sara has displayed amazing strength and maturity, maintaining her grades, staying out of trouble, and keeping healthy boundaries with her unhealthy family members.

Rosie meets with her once a month and is always amazed that the young 17-year old woman before her, was that same hard, angry, and rebellious 12-year old child whose future was so bleak.

Scarlet Road is the real deal. These are the type of people I want to surround myself with, people who aren’t ignoring the issues, or just talking about the issues, but who are stepping out of their white picket fences and doing something about it. High five to Rosie, Jana and Victoria!! To find out more about Scarlet Road and support their organization visit www.scarletroad.org .

 

*Name has been changed to protect her identity.