Today started as most do: up at 6:30am, a stretch and then quickly throwing on my sweats to take my big old dog for a walk. We left through the back entrance that opens to an alley, and what did I see as I started off my walk but a female prostitute exiting a minivan. I watched her as she got out of the vehicle, pulling on her coat. We crossed the street at the same time in opposite crosswalks and I was filled with so many emotions that I spent the rest of my walk trying to process what I saw.
I was sad and almost sick to my stomach for what that woman just had to do. She looked rough like she had been on the streets for some time and had a hard life. I wanted to hug her and make it all better. At the same time I was so angry that this man, who probably has a wife and kids, was paying for sex. Was he safe? Is he putting his wife at risk? Thoughts like that went through my mind. I was also annoyed that this was happening a few blocks from several elementary schools and in a neighbourhood filled with families and young children. I felt guilty for feeling like I didn’t want this in my neighbourhood. I felt like I should have done something. Should I have yelled at him and tried to shame him? Should I have taken his licence? But I didn’t take any action, I spoke no words to him or her, I just continued my walk and thought.
Two positive thoughts came to my mind that made it a little better. One was that I still cared enough to be upset; that I was worried about these people and I didn’t just let it go like this was okay and acceptable that women and men are being abused. The other was that I was going to work and that my work is a place to help youth before they get to the point where selling themselves feels like their only option. Or, if they have had to walk that path they can get help, leave it behind, and be safe if only for a night or a few hours. At least I work where people care and want to make a difference and that helps ease my mind just a little.
So that was my morning. I was talking to a colleague about this and she told me she drove home the other night with her teenage daughter. They saw a few young girls working, not looking well and her daughter burst into tears. And really, I thought this was an appropriate response What are your thoughts? Your perspective? Has this happened to you?