The judge wasn’t at CATCH court on Thursday, so he had a substitute judge– a female judge. I’m a huge Judge Herbert fan, but it was kind of nice to have a lady on the bench. And while the judge is fast to correct anyone calling him ‘dad’ to the ladies– it was nice to have a ‘mom’ figure for an afternoon.
One lady, J.E., is starting her recovery journey. Thursday was her first day out of prison and into her recovery home. She spent the last 60 days detoxing from crack cocaine in a cell. For the latter part of it, the clearer part, she had to block out the negative talk from the other prisoners… the ladies not quite in support of J.E.’s journey to recover. The ones that couldn’t wait to get out and get back to their life on the streets and their crack houses, and even their ‘boyfriends’ (pimps) . Their addictions speaking stronger than reason. Their minds filled with fuzz. Thinking clearly isn’t a luxury they can afford. The crack not really ever a desire or a ‘choice’, but more of a medicine to fill the pain, the holes, the gaps that childhood brought.
It’s no wonder the street children in Russia, in some locations, have had an increase of 700% in HIV this year, mainly due to IV drug use. What kind of life have they had? I know, because I’ve been in orphanages. I have read that they will only develop (on average), two of the 42 basic and complex emotions that most people have. As an early intervention specialist, I know and have observed what they are missing birth to age 5 (among others complications, the love, care, socialization, and ‘luxury’ of having their emotional needs met). And I see firsthand the cycles of abuse and neglect that begin at home and continue into institutionalized life.
And these ladies we’re working with at CATCH court, the ones living on the streets from fix to fix… Yes, they were orphaned too. Yes, we have orphaned children here in the US. I read somewhere that in Russia, 1/3 of orphans are orphans of orphans. And I’d argue the rates are higher here in the US. The 25 ladies I know personally have all orphaned their children. Yes, I personally know all 25 of them, and hear weekly as they struggle through the pain of being mothers, yet not parenting their babies. (See, now that they are not numbing the pain, they are walking head on into the pain–another post for another time)… And I hear about their childhoods from their official files…
That preschool age, when many of us are worried that our kids are sick of the same pool already this summer– or ‘oh no’, did we *scar* them because we yelled over spilled milk, or we chat for hours with friends because ‘so and so’ is struggling with bedtime and needs 6 books and 2 songs to fall asleep. (Important conversations, btw!) But with our ladies, I don’t even want to tell you some of their preschool stories. What their parents were struggling with, what stepdads were doing to them starting at age 2 (that we know of…), the things that social services uncovered as they were put into foster care home after foster care home… the things that the foster care families were doing to them… the pain, the pain, the pain. And so the fuzz of the tween years and early adulthood for them begins. The *choices* that we are so quick to judge…
And so now they are adults, trying to live a sober, healthy life at last. Learning everything for the first time. Truly, everything (from laundry to picking out produce, to reading… we see it all!) To be stuck in a jail cell detoxing for 60+ days with only negative reinforcement. To be coming out of the ‘fuzz’ after years and years of abuse and neglect and pain.
On Thursday at court, when we asked J.E. if it helped to get visits and cards and shampoo, and ‘money on her books’, boxer shorts and T-shirts, and a friend to accompany her from jail to her treatment center, and a welcoming committee with love and smiles– when we asked her if all of these things that CATCH and doma are doing for her actually made a difference in those 60 days– she sobbed. Sobbed. And through her tears on Thursday, barely audibly she said ‘I feel like a princess’.
We are so overwhelmed by the issue of Human Trafficking, that we wonder what WE can do to be an abolitionist, an activist, an agent of change… Don’t be paralyzed, my friends. Be compelled to action and compassion. And well, I guess we can start by buying underwear for prostitutes–and from there we can see a princess emerge.
Thank you to all doma supporters who continue to pray and financially support our work with these ladies. We love you deeply!