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Another Perspective of Exploitation in Houston

Born and raised in Southeast Houston, abandoned at birth, raised, loved and enabled by many, my name is Tracy Dudley, and I am the Founding Survivor of Project Girls, a crisis intervention program that targets exploitation primarily in Southeast Houston. I spent many years on the southeast side of Houston as an angry, violent, drug addicted prostitute. I never had a pimp, nor was I forced into the life by another human being. Instead, my pimp was camouflaged in a dope mans body. My pimp hid in the trauma I experienced growing up, the self hatred that I learned to nurture and survive with. My pimp was the anxiety and frustration I felt year after year in not feeling important or that I mattered. From this place of pain an alter ego was born. Countless women, like myself make vows and promises from this place as desperate attempts are made for power and control and the confidence that escapes so many.

Today as an overcomer with more than 17 years’ experience, I am honored to stand with the countless survivors, agencies, initiatives, concerned families, government officials and NGO’s who have taken a stand in the fight to end the demand and the crime of trafficking in our country. I have worked with countless women in desperate attempts to rise from a place of pain and rejection by running drugs and men as a way to feel powerful and to pay life back for the cards they have been dealt.

In looking at the landscape of trafficking and in an effort to expand our understanding, the more we know about those we serve the greater chance of justice can be found. Today it appears the open sex trade and exploitation lurks at every turn. According to the Cambridge Dictionary the definition of exploitation is ‘the act of using someone unfairly for your own advantage’. A closer look reveals trauma and vulnerabilities are the number one offender and have paved the way for many, both trafficked and those who we know as “renegades”.  We run into women who have been forced to work the street, and drug addicted women who have found that prostitution creates the cash flow to not feed their drug habit. The lifestyle becomes a desperate attempt to feel chosen or important.

We have done well to identify the needs and gaps in services and in an attempt to further ones understanding of exploitation we see that not all victims got there the same way. For the renegade, the sex trade looks quite different than the countless women who have been trafficked.  For these women, what used to be a transaction between a sex worker and a buyer has transformed into a game where the sex worker and the buyer begin to exploit one another, leaving one to wonder “ Who’s Exploiting Who”. With this in mind, we can reach further in bringing justice and healing to those we serve.

Tracy Dudley, Survivor

Posted by on 25 Jan 2021