When we hear the phrase sex trafficking, we picture a teen girl from a third world country.Unfortunately, for me sex trafficking has hit home —Deondriea Cantrice
By Taroue W. Brooks
Being a mother is beyond a title or relationship. It is a lifelong commitment that is packed with highs and lows, unexplainable joy and unsurmountable pain. Motherhood requires dedication, unconditional love, and selflessness. Being a mom, is everything to me. As a teen mom I made sure I went above and beyond to ensure that my children were positioned for success, through sacrifice and equipping them with life skills. I had to balance being a protector, provider, disciplinarian, and nurturer. I’ve discovered being the mother of three adult children is more challenging than being a single parent of young children. But, I would not change the joys of motherhood for the world.
How has sex trafficking impacted your life?
When we hear the phrase sex trafficking, we automatically picture a teen girl from a third world country. Unfortunately, for me sex trafficking has hit home and is a nightmare my family is living through. Two years ago, I was contacted by the police and FBI that my adult daughter, who lived in another state was a victim of sex trafficking. The man that I thought was her boyfriend was actually trafficking her throughout the United States. As a result of the situation my daughter was in, I gained custody of my granddaughter when she was just 6 months old.
How is your daughter dealing with the trauma of being a victim of sex trafficking?
Unfortunately, my daughter suffered unsurmountable mental, physical and emotional torture while being trafficked and has not recovered. She lives a life of prostitution, drug abuse and for the most part remains estranged from the family. Earlier this year, she even attempted suicide. Although I have worked closely with the Department of Justice Victim Assistance Program, we have been unable to get her the treatment and rehabilitation that she needs in order to deal with the victimization that she has suffered.
Where do you get the strength to process/raise your grandchild?
At my age and stage in life, adjusting to raising my granddaughter has been a huge impact financially, time consuming and proved to be challenging on a number of levels. The greatest being her brain birth defect she has as a result of the life my daughter was living while pregnant. Seeing a series of specialists every few months and enduring two surgeries breaks my heart. However, when her, neurologist says this baby does not look or act nothing like her diagnoses, I’m excited and it makes everything worthwhile. My granddaughter is nothing less than a joy and a blessing. My strength comes from knowing she is a walking testimony and that she has a greater purpose in life. I don’t view raising her a burden, I see it as a opportunity to salvage what I can from an extremely difficult situation
How are you able to deal with the health challenges that your grandchild lives with daily?
My granddaughter’s birth defect requires her to see a neurologist, ophthalmologist, pulmonologist, endocrinologist and an ear, nose and throat specialist. It’s difficult to balance my schedule and her appointments, but her health is my number one priority. I have to say Children’s Hospital is nothing less than a God send. The way her team of specialists work in concert with each other is amazing. Not to mention, having the mobile app makes it easy for me to juggle her appointments and keep her medical information at my fingertips. It’s difficult to know she has to endure a lifetime of medical issues, and possibly developmental challenges, but I choose to focus on her progress.
How are you managing your relationship with your daughter?
I love my daughter beyond measure and I do not treat her any different, offering her the support she needs when she needs it without judgement or ridicule. However, she sometimes sees me as the enemy partly because of brainwashing and partially because I put my granddaughter’s needs over hers. I see my daughter about 12 times a year, but it doesn’t stop me from loving her, praying over her and allowing to have a relationship with her in without judgement.
What will you tell your grandchild about her biological father?
I was able to listen in on the sentencing hearing. It was sickening and heart-wrenching to hear what my daughter endured but I’m thankful, I was able to be the voice for my granddaughter. Because of the crime of sex trafficking, her father received 27 years in federal prison and will serve no less than 23 years. I have no idea what I will tell her about her parents, but I know when the time is right, I am confident I will find the words to be open and honest with her. The truth is better disclosed than discovered, so hearing it from me rather than finding the story online is the best option.
You are engaged to be married for the first time. How are you managing what is supposed to be one of the happiest times of your life in the midst of this traumatic experience?
I couldn’t think of a better person to endure this ordeal with. He has been in this with me from the beginning and could have walked away or judged, but instead he has embraced my granddaughter as if she is biologically his. When my daughter comes around, he welcomes her with open arms as well. Planning a wedding/honeymoon in itself is challenging enough without making sure provision for the baby is made. But we do it, we keep the lines of communication open and he supports me in every aspect of the word. Considering my children are adults and his are teens, starting over as parents was not something either one of us dreamt of but we have made the best of a difficult situation, by celebrating love and life.
What advice do you have for others who have been impacted by sex trafficking?
The victim isn’t the only victim. Sex trafficking affects the entire family and ultimately our communities. You can’t be consumed with guilt, blame or judgement or shame, but it’s essential to be loving, understanding and patient. Support for the families of sex trafficking victims is scarce, so it’s important to have a support system that can be trusted. More than anything, be open and honest when necessary. I have had to have full disclosure with medical personnel, social workers etc. This is necessary to receive the type of support that we need. Lastly, seek professional help because it is a lot to deal with emotionally, spiritually and mentally.
As an author, do you feel that this experience will birth a new book? If so, what would be the focus?
Over the last two years I have been on hiatus from writing and speaking because there has been a lot of legalities and logistics related to the situation. Not to mention, it’s extremely hard to motivation others when you’re living in turmoil. Also, it was extremely hard for me to receive correspondence from my tribe about how I have positively impacted their lives, but I couldn’t reach my own daughter. But, I have realized there is a need to build confidence in our girls and women. I am working on launching a confidence movement books. I may even pen a non-fiction book of my journey with my daughter and granddaughter. By year end, you can expect some great things from my brand.