We remain trapped when we allow fear to block our means of escape.
She sat in bed in the Inky blackness and the faintest glow of light from around the door warned her that she wasn’t alone anymore. He was there. She could hear him moving about now. What was she going to do when he came to her room? Pretend that she was asleep? What good would that do? He would simply climb on top of her and go to town.
What about fighting him off? That wouldn’t work either. He was too strong. Scream? She tried that once and received a blow to the face which stunned her into silence. Lock her door? There wasn’t any lock. He had made sure of that. Take her life? No, she had heard enough sermons on Hell and damnation to know that she didn’t want to end up there. Run away? And go where? Out of the streets where it was dangerous?
What about going to the police and reporting him? Who would believe her? He was a well liked and well respected police officer in the force. Nobody would take her word over his. They would point out that he had done a good thing for her in getting her off the streets. He always made her feel that she owed him for the shelter and safety he was providing her. She had wanted to go to a shelter because she didn’t have any family or friends in New York but he had persuaded her that she would be better off living with him. So, she moved in with him. And shortly afterwards, he began to have sexual relations with her and she let him because he made her feel that she owed him.
It felt like she was back in the hotel rooms, lying on her back and having a man up and down inside her. The only difference now was that it was a police officer and it was in his apartment. Night after night, he went to her room. Sick and tired of it, she thought of quitting her job as his housekeeper and moving out but who would hire her without any references? He had threatened to give her a bad one if she dared to walk out on him. And what was she going to say when they asked her if she had any work experience? How could she tell them that the only work she knew involved her lying on her back while all sorts of men had their way with her in exchange for money?
Invariably, they would ask her why she chose to become a prostitute instead of earning an honest living. What if she told them the truth–that she was really a victim of sex trafficking? Would they believe that at the age of 21, she was abducted and forced into prostitution? Probably not. Like the law, they would most likely see her as a prostitute because she was black. So, leaving him and finding another job were out of the question. She felt trapped. When was she going to be free of this man and of this cage?
She stiffened now as she heard approaching footsteps and lay down, pulling the covers over her, moments before the door opened and he walked in. In the darkness which her eyes had gotten used to, she saw that he was stark naked. He went over to the bed and drew back the covers. “I know you’re awake,” he said as he climbed in beside her. “Good. I prefer it when you are. Having sex with a sleeping woman isn’t something I want to get used to. Sex is better when you participate instead of me doing everything.”
She didn’t answer but just lay there, staring up at the ceiling. He got on top of her, parted her thighs and began to kiss her passionately. She forced herself to respond. “Touch me,” he urged against her lips. “I want to feel your hands on my body.”
She ran her hands down his back, wishing she could dig her nails into the flesh and cause him pain but knew what would happen if she did that. She closed her eyes and pretended that she was with one of her Johns so that she became emotionally detached. It worked. Her caresses drove him crazy and he broke off the kiss as he slammed into her, making her cry out.
“Feel how badly I want you, Baby,” he grunted.
Underneath them, the bed creaked and rattled. She lay there, wishing that it would soon end and he would leave. Thankfully, it didn’t last as long as it normally did. When it was over, he rolled onto his back and lay there for several minutes, breathing harshly. How she longed to get up and take a hot shower to wash him off her but he would probably get upset. He did the last time, she wanted to take a shower right after they had sex. “What do you want to do that for?” he had demanded.
It was quiet in the room, except of his breathing which was slowly returning to normal. She turned her head to see the time on the radio. It was midnight. She probably wouldn’t fall asleep until after one or so.
He sat up and then got out of the bed. She could feel him watching her but she kept her face turned towards the radio. “By the way, you just had sex with a detective.”
She looked at him then. “Detective?”
“Yes, Baby. I was promoted to detective. Everyone said that making detective would be a cinch for me.”
“Congratulations,” she said.
“Thanks, Baby. Tomorrow, you and I are going to celebrate.”
“Then, with the money I will soon be earning, we can leave this crummy apartment and move into a nice, big house in Long Island.” They were currently living in a two bedroom apartment in Queens which was about a half-hour drive to the precinct in Manhattan where he worked.
“Goodnight.” She watched him leave and close the door behind him. Then, she slipped out of the bed, got down on her knees and did something she hadn’t done in a long time. She prayed. Eyes squeezed shut, hands tightly clasped, she cried out to God and begged Him to get her out of this situation. She didn’t want to be with a man who was taking advantage of her because she had accepted his kindness. She didn’t wish him any evil but she just wanted to be rid of him.
When she was done, she slipped back into the bed and felt a sense of peace come over her. Within minutes, she was fast asleep. The next day, he was arrested and charged with using unnecessary and excessive force during the course of the arrest of a man refusing to leave a bus which was stopped in Manhattan. A fellow officer called and told her. As soon as she got off the phone, she threw her belongings into her suitcase, grabbed the money she had saved from her days of sexual exploitation and what he had given her as an allowance and got out of that hell hole.
She caught a bus to Amherst Town, NY. The trip was 10+ hours but she didn’t mind. She was just thankful to get out of Queens and as far away from him as possible. And she didn’t worry about what would happen when she reached her destination. She knew that God would take care of her. He had gotten her thus far.
Sources: Chron; The Bureau of Investigative Journalism; CP24; Gothamist; Grant Makers for Girls of Color