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The prayer of a sex trafficked child - Escaping the abuse

By Jerome Elam | The Washington Times Communities

Article reproduced here with kind permission of the author

DALLAS, November 8, 2012 - I could feel my life slipping away as I lay down among the neatly arranged rows of flowers that populated my mother’s garden. I had chosen a place on top of her favorite bed of antique roses, and the smell of their fresh bloom flooded my senses like a blanket of serene comfort as the dew of an early June morning drifted across my face.

I smiled as I thought of how my mother would be angry with the damaged flowers she so cherished and how the passing of my life would pale in comparison to their destruction. That through her actions or lack thereof she had laid waste first to my innocence and then my last glimmer of hope in this life would have no bearing on her perspective whatsoever.

A shadow passed over my body as it clung to a whisper of its former vital force. I felt the cold touch of the ground as my body struggled to hold on to the warmth that sought an exodus in response to the sleeping pills and vodka I had just ingested. It was all growing dark now and the wind drifted across my face as its arms reached out to carry me away from the pain that had defined my life for so long. A peace that I had never felt before began to settle into my body and I prayed for the others who had suffered beside me to escape the darkness that had held us all prisoners for so long.

For the previous seven years I had been the “property” of a pedophile ring that had trafficked me sexually since the age of five. My attempts to find an escape from their enslavement had only met with severe physical retaliation and death threats.

The child sex trafficking ring disguised itself as an organization for boys and girls called the “Kids in the saddle” that touted exposing children to horses as a therapy for “behavior problems.” How I had become trapped in this web of dark perversion and sadistic domination that exploited young girls and boys as objects for the pleasure of paying customers is a painful story of forces that vandalized the very core of my soul.

At seventeen my mother had become pregnant. Ill equipped to manage even the direction of her own life, she had lived within a whirlpool of chaos that with my birth dragged her into its darkest depths. Throughout her life my mother had desperately sought to escape her own past, filled to its brim with a history of physical and sexual abuse.  Her father had molested her since a very young age and she eventually became pregnant at his hands, giving birth to a boy who would be referred to as my “uncle” for most of my life.

My mother was extremely bright and aspired to become a nurse after High School as she fled the abusive environment of her youth to attend college. In the middle of her freshman year, however, she met my father and under the spell of romance became pregnant. My father lacked the life skills to support a family and joined the army to help pay for my birth and upbringing. 

To fully set the scene of my parents’ relationship, they were possessed of such diametrically opposing personalities that the two could not have sat next to each other on a cross country bus trip. It was only through the lens of romance and the distance created by my father’s deployment overseas by the army that their relationship lasted three years.

Once they were reunited their divorce was inevitable as late night arguments that turned physically violent became routine. The divorce propelled us into darker circumstances as my mother moved back in with her parents whose abusive tendencies included severe beatings to encourage good behavior.

In the midst of this quagmire of torment and pain there was one person that I am convinced is the reason I am still alive today. My great aunt had separated herself from the rest of her family. She had never married and had no regrets about this decision. She would physically remove me from the environment of my grandparent’s home and keep me with her for weeks at a time. She is the person who saved my life not only by her actions but also by showing me the depths of her heart and the meaning of unconditional love.

My great aunt took me fishing and swimming at the beach, she allowed me to be a child and have fun. She showed me a world without pain or hatred. She fought for me when I needed it most and years later, after her death, I found that she had tried desperately to adopt me but my mother would not allow it. All of her efforts were to be in vain, however, as my life became the materialization of an even darker reality.

My mother had flirted with alcoholism since an early age, and as her circumstances became unstable she embraced drinking as a full time escape from reality. She had developed a proclivity for disappearing for days at a time since we had moved back in with her parents, which left me at the mercy of the abusive practices of her parents and brothers.

During her love affair with being inebriated she met someone who shared her affinity towards life inside of a bottle. Early one morning the front door burst open and my mother staggered in after being gone for a week. Following a string of profanities, my mother announced she had married the man with whom she had fallen in love, and she and I were moving out immediately.

I was soon transported far away from the place I had known so many years, and in the beginning there seemed a genuine possibility that my life would improve. In the beginning my stepfather showed me kindness that I had not seen in many years.

His demeanor began to change, however, after a month passed as his hugs and back rubs took a darker turn and he began molesting me. I can still remember the smell of his cologne and the sound of his breath as he held me down in my bed as my mother slept in the next room.

At first my stepfather was apologetic and showered me with gifts after molesting me, as he realized my mother cared only about the infinite depths of the alcoholic haze she dwelled in. It was then things began to spiral into darkness. As detached as my mother had been from my life there still existed an unbreakable bond between us that my stepfather exploited for his own benefit. It was with threats of ending my mother’s life that he gained my ultimate submission. My stepfather’s family was wealthy and influential and there was no distance I could travel as a child that could ensure my escape from his control.

My stepfather used threats against my mother to gain my complete surrender to him and his pedophile sex trafficking ring.

Once my surrender was complete, my stepfather began to unleash his perversions and allowed them to seek full bloom. He began to use me for child pornography and accumulated filing cabinets filled with Polaroid photographs of my stolen innocence.

Over time he began to make some new friends. In the 1970’s pedophiles gathered at a series of underground “flea markets” where they would trade photographs, movies and even children. It was at one of these that the “Kids in the saddle” organization was born.

A particularly sadistic group of individuals had taken to selling young children to anyone with money. For $500.00 customers could have sex with a young boy or girl and have their encounter filmed. For $1000.00 customers could rent a child for two hours and do whatever they wanted. This usually included rape, torture, bondage and choking or even hanging a child to the point of being unconscious.

Seduced by their perversion and greed the group began gathering members that included doctors, lawyers, politicians and judges. Those who could not be lured in by their own perversion were blackmailed by setting up cameras where they would be filmed with young children or prostitutes. Ruthless and cunning, these individuals were nothing more than a collection of sociopaths ruled over by several violent psychopaths.

Children were drugged, beaten and murdered within the confines of the “Kids in the saddle” organization and their many “safe houses.” Meetings took place in the storage rooms of bookstores, in the back rooms of barbershops, campers, hunting lodges, members’ garages.

The headquarters for the “Kids in the saddle” was a complex of warehouses and stables where parents watched one child taking riding lessons as another was secretly being molested no more than 100 feet away. 

Three powerful and influential men in the community ruled the network of pedophiles with an iron fist. To an average person there would no clue to the darkness that thrived in their hearts as they glided seamlessly from charity events to molesting young boys and girls.

I remember a young boy named Steve who was also trapped in the evil clutches of the organization. He and I had become friends due to the fact that we lived close to each other and attended the same school. Steve had a tendency to talk back to the “evil trinity” that ran the organization. He had been beaten for his defiance on a regular basis but on one occasion his remarks cost him everything. One of the “evil trinity,” whom I will call “Duke,” had been taken to the “cleaners” by his wife’s divorce lawyer. Steve had picked the wrong day to talk back to “Duke,” and I watched as the last ounce of life was choked from Steve. His death was covered up and no was allowed to mention his name again, but in my mind I will never forget his ability to make me smile.

“Duke” masturbated after killing Steve. He had previously had a “choking” and hanging fetish with children but always stopped at the last minute. After his divorce “Duke’s” perversions spiraled out of control. “Duke” was a bow hunter, which meant he hunted deer and pig with a compound bow, an unusually high-powered bow.  “Duke” and his friends had found a new game to entertain them. They would make children run around holding antlers or squealing like a pig while they shot at them with their bows and handguns. “Duke” and his friends kept their distance from me as my stepfather had become powerful within the organization and I was his “property.”

We were child prisoners of fear hiding in plain sight as we attended school, church and rode our bikes around the neighborhood. No one knew the hell I was living in except those who were taking pleasure in my suffering or those who were too drunk to care.

In desperation I had cried for help on several occasions, once to a doctor who was treating me for bruised ribs. I am unsure as to his membership in the “Kids in the saddle” organization, but the doctor told someone what I had said and on my return visit to see him I had three broken ribs as a lesson for talking.

The second occasion of my plea for help involved telling a female teacher whom I thought was far removed from the organization. On the day I told her she asked me to stay after school and while in her office she molested me as the principal, who was a new member of “Kids in the saddle,” watched.

The organization had grown exponentially and their trafficking of children had become a lucrative endeavor that had spawned numerous sister organizations to “Kids in the saddle” into neighboring counties and even nearby states. Soon children were going on “vacations” to provide new victims for pedophiles in other states and even those who came to the United States from other countries for sex tourism.

There was an increasing level of sophistication within the ranks of the organization and everyone was getting rich on the suffering of innocent young girls and boys. The range of perversions grew in number and intensity as this playground for pedophiles gave them access to a supermarket of enslaved victims. There were “studios” where child pornography became a cottage industry and shipments had expanded both nationally and internationally.

The power structure had grown so immense that the justice system had no meaning to anyone involved with the group, and members considered their perversion an elite status that signified an evolution above the rest of humanity. They were convinced that molesting and torturing children was their god given right and no one could stop them. I was trapped, and like many, I became merely a shadow of a human being as my hope dwindled down to a distant flicker. There was no escape and it was only in my mind that freedom existed, and in my imagination my life was all just a bad dream.

As I stood in front of my mother’s medicine cabinet and stared at the bottle of sleeping pills, I thought of my aunt who had passed away the week before, and my only wish was to see her again. I can still see the empty bottle of pills as they fell to the floor, and as their contents rested in my mouth, I paused once to pray for the others and for freedom for them all. I turned the bottle of vodka I had stolen from my parents’ liquor cabinet upside down as the liquid carried the agents of my demise down my throat. In one final act I poured the remainder of the vodka over the contents of my stepfather’s filing cabinets and set them on fire.

As my knees began to buckle under me I arrived at my chosen place among my mother’s roses. As the world began to slip away from me I was pulled into the depths of an intense white light. I journeyed through space and time as the story of my life played all around me as the voices of all those who had both tortured me and loved me spoke in a never-ending chorus.

Suddenly I was standing on a far-reaching plane of white fog and I felt a presence that comforted me at my very core. A familiar voice spoke to me that resonated not only in my mind but also in the depths of my soul. It spoke to me as a long lost friend and I immediately realized that it was the voice of Steve, my friend who had died at the hands of the sex traffickers that had enslaved us. “This is not your time, and your pain in this world will no longer define you. It will guide you to who you were meant to be and you will find a purpose in your life that will not only wash away the pain of your own life but that of others who have suffered under the evil that lurks in the world.” the voice said.

I awoke in a hospital emergency room as wide-eyed doctors stood over me. They had pronounced me dead three minutes ago and a priest was entering the room. My parents stood outside and their anger over the fire I had set and the damaged roses was fully inflamed.

From that day forward it was as if my soul was encased in celestial armor because there was nothing anyone could do to me that could douse the flame that raged inside my soul that would drive me to change the fate not only of myself but also of others who were suffering in silence.

I would not permanently escape the grip of the “Kids in the saddle” organization until at the age of seventeen I joined the United States Marine Corps and never looked back. Since that day in the Emergency Room I wake up every morning with a passion and determination to fight against those who victimize and enslave innocent children. I was able to see the “kids in the saddle” organization begin to be dismantled with the help of individuals that I made contact with while serving in the military but that is as they say, is a story for another day.

My prayer is that I can save at least one child from the hell I endured before it is once again time for me to hear the voice of my friend Steve.