Why couldn’t Ginger accept the offer of a good job when 17 years in prostitution has proven to be road to nowhere? I met a friend today who had read the journal and she was wrestling with this very question. I shared my insights with her and realized there might be others of you asking the same questions.
It is hard to understand and frustrating when we’ve seen the joy of transformation that comes to those leave prostitution. If only, all the women approached could grab hold of the opportunity that could really change their lives for the better. As I’ve wrestled with this through the years, I have come to understand somewhat through a couple analogies.
Picture a gambler at a casino who has spent days at the slot machines. He has lost nearly everything he has hoping for a win. People who care tell him to get out now while he still has the shirt on his back but he just can’t leave. The next bid might be the lucky one to win back all he has lost – the jack pot. The more that is lost, the more he may feel the need to keep trying and win it back. There is no talking him out of it and he gets drawn more and more into his own world separated from friends, family, and reality.
Or imagine the games at a country fair. If you can knock down all the cans with three ball throws you win a prize. The attendant shows you a life size teddy bear that can be yours if you win enough times. You throw the balls and you win a small prize, maybe a sticker or a comb. It’s not much but it’s enough to hook you. You believe it is possible to win the bear and so you keep buying another round of balls. The closer you get to winning the bear, the more your children cheer you on. They want the teddy bear. You will either run out of money trying, or you will end up spending more on that bear than you would have in a store. It’s a temporary pleasure at an exorbitant cost that is too easily soon forgotten.
A woman in prostitution gambles, she spends her dreams and her life in hope of winning the big prize. She has a lot of losses. More than she can count but she has won little prizes here and there. A big tip, a night at a 5 star hotel, a guy who was more nice than demeaning. It’s not life changing but it’s enough to believe if she stay in it, she might actually win. She sees others who seemed to have won as they walk away with their big teddies. They look happy and she covets the chance. She has invested too much of her life to quit now. If she quits all she has spent will be in vain. Her family is urging her on hoping that she will win the prince charming who will support them all. She can handle the idea that the next guy, or the next, or the next… might be prince charming, but she cannot handle the idea that all these years, all these customers, all these nights of demeaning sex acts, have gotten her nowhere and it’s all been in vain. Sometimes it just feels safer to hold onto false promises than to face failure and hopelessness.
Even though it is devastating, the search for a lucky break can be addictive. We meet a lot of women who are still searching through self-destructive means. We know we can’t just pull them away so we just keep speaking truth and hope into them. We invite them to something better and pray that when they do hit rock bottom they will know it isn’t hopeless and there is a way up and out.