I had an idea and needed some help to pull it off. I solicited three women, my makeup artist friend and two girlfriends. The goal, recreate a battered woman and a women in the sex trafficking world, go downtown, take some photos and videos then tell a story.
A pack of cigarettes and a lighter, doesn’t every prostitute smoke? It felt a little weird as I entered the gas station to purchase these items. I felt compelled to tell the guy behind the register they were not for me. He gave me a strange smile as I turned and walked away. Once in the car we all kind of chuckled as we looked at that pack of Marlboro Reds.
Next stop the Greyhound bus station. I did not really have a solid plan, just a vision. As we rolled up to the curb it was a pretty typical scene, people hanging around and a few taxi cabs parked in front. I wanted to go to the back of the building where the buses park. Kyla said, “I don’t think we can be back here.” I snickered inside and thought, “Who is going to stop us.” Here we were, a normal looking gal with a camera, a battered woman and a prostitute, no one would suspect we were all well equipped with multiple items and prepared to defend ourselves if needed.
We then made our way to the campus of Reno, Nevada to take some photos in a deserted parking garage; an eerie feeling came over us all. Why, because we were standing where my friend Amanda Collins was brutally raped at gunpoint. The college was on Christmas break so there were not many cars or people around. Suddenly we heard a car approaching, as we turned to look it was a police car, followed by a second one. They drove within feet of us; I thought for sure they were going to stop and ask what we were doing or if we needed some help. Nope, they just drove past us, perhaps it was easier to look the other way.
We continued on, sleazy motels, the river and the main strip in Reno, Virginia St. and the infamous arch. All of the sudden something began to change in me. I was watching as my prostitute and battered woman were just blending in, they seemed invisible to those around them. People would look and then quickly look away, except for one. A man who appeared to be pretty down and out looked at Carol; he was genuinely concerned and offered his help. We told him it was just makeup and she was fine, he rode away on his bike with his dog and a small baggie filled with cigarettes. I pondered the fact that he did not have much to offer but he did anyway. Our day was filled with many more stories and visions that I will carry with me.
As my head hit the pillow that evening and the tears rolled off my cheeks I began to absorb the enormity of the issues that women deal with every day. I found myself praying for all those women who have to live it out for real day after day after day. These women do not get to wash the makeup off and make it all go away.
As we began to clarify the mission of One Million United we realized that we needed to look at the bigger picture. It’s time to put women’s safety in the forefront in all we say and do. We are developing our resource page; this will be an ongoing project providing links and valuable information on the OMU website. We believe we are better together and excited to build a business affiliate section, providing you with access to trainers and businesses who believe in safety training and education. We also envision a speaking and training team being established to travel and spread the safety message nationwide. Over the coming months we would also like to start a variety of campaigns and opportunities for you to personally get involved with. We are not sure where this journey will take us but we know we can no longer just look away. I hope you will join us.
I am boldly asking you to sign the One Million United Declaration which is located on the home page of the OMU website. If you feel compelled please consider making a financial donation, any amount will help our cause. Your donation will allow us to begin to spread the safety message, the message that says you are valued and worth protecting. http://www.onemillionunited.com/help-support-omu/
“If you do not go after what you want; you will never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no. If you do not step forward, you will always be in the same place.” -Nora Roberts
Until next time…