Tyra was a referral from local law enforcement. She had been discovered in a sex trafficking sting where they were looking for a particularly slippery trafficker, but while in the process of tracking him down Tyra’s probation for deriving proceeds from prostitution in a neighboring county was violated and she was serving out her time in jail. The vice officers from Orange County were distraught over the other counties disdain of what the enlightened counties vice unit considered to be victimization and the more dark ages county considered to be criminal and wanted to offer her some kind of support or assistance.
As with any effort to establish communication with an inmate in the criminal justice system, it involves a hundred forms and even more phone calls to the wrong person who either leaves the caller on hold for the rest of the afternoon or offers to take a message that you can see being tossed to the side of the incredibly high stack of paperwork the corrections system is buried by. Something magical must have happened that day because the chaplain answered the phone on the first ring, took my information and gave me the mailing address to send Tyra a letter and an application for entry into a safe house.
Tyra filled out the application and mailed it back to me within a couple of days and I called the chaplain again to let him know that OOTL would be at the jail at 5am on her release date to pick her up and transport her to the safe house. He relayed the information to Tyra and called me back to confirm this was what she wanted to do. I sent a letter to the jail for them to enter into their system so that when she was released, the releasing officer on duty would know that she had transportation and a place to go.
I arranged with a professional team that worked with OOTL to provide us with security and transportation during extractions to pick Tyra up and passed the application on to the safe house so they would be prepared for her arrival. This all sounds organized and straightforward, but each and every girl, each and every program,and each and every agency have their own particular way of handling intake and it is always a struggle comply without some conflict arising that has to be resolved with another agency and with another 100 or so phone calls. The benefit of accessing a girl straight from jail is that most of her medical issues have been addressed and the absolute necessity of a TB screening is completed as well as much of the other medical and psychological screening can be released to us with little more than a signed Release of Information.
Tyra’s release date arrived and all the plans were in place and the transportation team waited outside the doors of the jail and when they saw her come out, they also noticed she looked afraid and it would soon become clear why.
We had not been the only ride home Tyra had that early morning. Her pimp was also in attendance and without introduction she slipped past the transportation team and headed towards his predictable Cadillac. My security guys are not shy and they consider their provision of transportation as their own obedience to God and they didn’t even hesitate before heading to the car and talking both of them to rolling down their windows and offering to pray with them.
There was a stunned silence and then – after gaining a visual ok from the pimp, Tyra offered her hand to the leader of the security team and he said a brief prayer requesting God protect and provide for Tyra all that she would need. While doing so, he slipped my card into the sleeve of her jacket and then clasped her wrist and ended his prayer. They stood up and walked to their car and the Cadillac roared to life and exited the jail grounds quickly.
It was in less than two days that Tyra called – clearly high and clearly panicked. She had been beaten up and couldn’t give me a good location. When I tried the number a few hours later, a man answered and told me that Tyra had checked out of the motel and taken the $40 security deposit and disappeared. There was no discussion of her physical condition and he seemed unconcerned over her well being but he was furious over the loss of the $40.
Tyra called again a few days later, again clearly high, and she begged for me to come get her. We agreed on a meeting place and time and I arrived 30 minutes early to have time to scope out the surrounding area. When 30 minutes passed on our agreed meeting time I called and got no answer.
About three weeks later she called once again asking for rescue from a notorious motel in the area of Orlando known for high sex industry activity. We again agreed on a meeting time and place and we went through the same scenario with a few more requests for additional time and then – once again – no answer after several hours passed. Tyra disappeared from my radar for almost a year.
And then suddenly at 11pm on a Thursday in October, she emailed me asking to be contacted by the same detectives that had tried to help her before. Her disappearance was for a good reason. She had ended up going to prison on more Violation of Probation charges and had just been released 5 weeks ago. It just happened that it was within the days of OOTL opening a crisis intervention home. I knew this was some sort of sign that another opportunity was presenting itself for Tyra’s rescue and restoration, but this time I had something to offer. Tyra entered the OOTL house on October 4th, 2011 and while she exhausted from just living her life the past 2 years – I saw tentative hope in her eyes and hesitant dreams starting to form about her future.
I always ask the girls what they think was the defining moment for them to quit the life. They always look at me like I must be a little crazy for asking such a dumb question – as if any of them really chose for things to end up the way it did.
Today Tyra is working at a job that pays her far more than she ever made as a prostitute and the joy of living what she calls “The Square Life”. She has saved more than $1000 towards paying off her crippling court fines and getting her drivers’ license back. We still fight drug addiction and alcoholism issues. Her abandonment issues have come full circle and she recognizes her shortcomings but isn’t terribly excited about doing anything about them. She is easily overwhelmed and gets stressed by everything and by nothing. Her moods go from extremely happy to overwhelming sadness. She is desperate to be loved and constantly seeks the “love of her life” in the most unlikely and most unsuitable of men.
It is impossible to recognize the love of another if you are unable to love yourself.