“I had been taught all my life I didn’t deserve an advocate. I didn’t know what to do with myself when the advocates in my life began to challenge that belief.”

I began reaching out for someone to advocate for me when I was 6 years old. That was the first time I ever told anyone that I was being trafficked. They always tell you in school to tell a trusted adult when someone is hurting you. I didn’t really have any adults that I trusted, but I figured my busted lip and trembling body would be enough evidence to convince her. It wasn’t.

I continued to tell people and not be helped. I was ignored. I was not believed. I began to believe that I didn’t deserve anyone to help me. I didn’t deserve to have anyone in my corner. I didn’t deserve an advocate.

As an adult, I began to have people claiming to stand in my corner. I tried desperately to convince myself that I deserved their support, their guidance, their advocacy, but the lesson that I was unworthy was so deeply ingrained in me that I could not make that connection with them. On top of my inability to connect with their advocacy was an ignorance on their part. They wanted to advocate for me, and I was grateful for that, but they didn’t know where to begin. I was so used to not having anyone that I was of no use to them in telling them what I needed. I didn’t know what I needed.

It wasn’t until very recently that I was able to start unlearning this harmful, isolating lesson. A trio of advocates, who I have really only begun to connect with in the past year, took up this fight alongside me. I waffled and was unsure about accepting their support. I’ve slowly learned to accept their input and have begun learning that I am worthy of advocacy. Mostly because they will not let me believe for one moment that I am not.

I am slowly learning what advocacy is supposed to look like and how to accept it for myself. I am grateful to have these incredible women in my life to turn to, and, for once in my life, to have real advocates loving me, holding my hand, and fully prepared to kick ass and take names on my behalf.