What’s Your Story?


pexels-photo-247314.jpegLast week I shared about the anti-trafficking organization, Children of the Night, that confused; okay let’s be real, infuriated me, with its funding starting and continuing from Hefner’s Playboy empire. I shared the email I sent and the response from Lois Lee explaining briefly Hefner’s role in her business.

And I wrestled all week with it even in the wake of the horrendous violence happening in our country.

Death begetting more death.

Kind of like my impression of a pornography enterprise funding an organization rescuing those trafficked into prostitution.

But what kept coming back to me, in a gently convicting kind of way, in spite of my justified, righteous anger, was that I didn’t know this woman’s story. That I needed to pray for, not persecute, her.

I didn’t know why she chose to battle sex-trafficking to begin with. Was she exploited, abused, molested herself? Had she been a victim of sexual predators? I had no idea why she felt that Hefner and his Playboy enterprise was her only option for funding. Or how that relationship came about in the first place.

Jesus reminded me that I didn’t know her story.

We’ve all made choices, good and bad. I’ve made my fair share of terrible ones. Many of which developed out of my own background. When we’re confused and looking for answers, we’ll try whatever seems like the best option at the time, no matter what it is.

Sometimes the worst option looks really good in light of our experiences.

Just as I knew I needed to address concern for what seemed like a hypocritical use of funds to rescue children being exploited by the very same group funding the exploitation, I became convinced that I needed to reach out to Lois Lee and ask,

“What’s your story?”

Because Jesus cares about our story. He cares about how and why we landed where we did, making the choices we did. And more importantly, he forgives them all because of his love and compassion for us. No wrong can ever make him turn away from us.

She responded immediately.

Her email told me the basics of who she is—a doctor, a lawyer, an academic, a Catholic. I won’t share the email because now it’s a personal matter, no longer a letter to an unknown company. She gave me very little detail of what led her to begin except to say she’d been persecuted for her position in wanting to help young women in prostitution. She spoke highly of Hefner, even sounding as if he had been a dear friend.

I thanked her for sharing. I continue to pray for her to be blessed, healed, and loved by Jesus.

And I want to ask you, “what’s your story?” What led you to this place you are in today? What’s your life all about? Do you know Jesus like he knows you?

He cares about every moment of your story. So do I. Without judgment. His grace is enough for all of us—even the worst parts of our story.

And I know he started our story, has a better plot for it, and will keep writing it into something beautiful if we let him. So…

“What’s your story?”

Speechless


woman in maroon shirt with black chain on her body
Photo by Markus Spiske freeforcommercialuse.net on Pexels.com

While doing some book research yesterday, I discovered an organization called Operation Underground Railroad that rescues trafficked children and helps them recover from their trauma. Since writing Dangerous Ground and all the research involved, I’ve been more acutely aware of these horrendous stories. As a matter of fact, even though I tried to carefully depict the tragedy of sex trafficking in my novel, I see now that what I found while researching was only the tip of the iceberg. The situation is even more horrific than the dozens of stories and statistics I read about. I’m so grateful for those organizations that are doing everything they possibly can to rescue, heal, and offer new life to those who have suffered in this way. I still continue to donate half of all the proceeds from my book, Dangerous Ground, to three such organizations.

But I was speechless when I found another group that claims to have rescued more children than all the other groups put together. They’ve been in business for 41 years. In Los Angeles. I had no idea that Children of the Night even existed. Their mission statement says “Empower.

But that’s not the speechless part.

As I scrolled through their board of directors, I saw the name Cooper Hefner.

That’s right. The son of the man who introduced pornography as America’s favorite pastime. Cooper is currently the CCO for the Playboy enterprise. He’s furthering his father’s legacy to expand the porn industry.

And sitting on the board of an organization that rescues children from the same people who feed on that industry.

Can we say “conflict of interest”?

I decided I had to write the founder and question how they could justify this. Here is the email I sent her and her response to me.

“I was so impressed when I found your site and organization. Sex trafficking is a horrific crime that needs to stop. I had no idea that you have been around so long. Your statistics are impressive. So I decided to look more closely into your team. I grew up in Los Angeles. Perhaps someone I know is part of your cause. I considered donating. Until I scrolled through your board of directors and see that Cooper Hefner, the CCO of Playboy is one of them. I’m still so stunned I can hardly believe it. How is it that the pornographic organization which exploits women, pretends that what they promote is in any way helpful, and promotes the very thing your organization fights is represented on your BOD?? Your mission is EMPOWER yet everything Playboy stands for is exploitation of women, children and even men. Where is the empowerment in that? I’m so glad that I looked deeper than the surface of your organization. I suppose some good has come from rescuing, but when you put these victims in the place to be rescued, how is that anything but you creating a situation for which you can pat yourself on the back when you save them? Is this just Playboy’s attempt to legitimize their actions by partnering with an anti-trafficking campaign? I’m shocked and saddened by the hypocrisy of it.”

 

“Hugh Hefner built my work with prostituted children into a corporation. Without his resources there would not be a Children of the Night.

We did this in 1977 because social workers and juvenile courts denied these children services because sex was involved in their victimization.
We have rescued over 11,000 children over the last 41 years starting before the word sex trafficking was created.
Your right it was tough for him to help me because of how he was perceived and he took risks to do so against his lawyers advice.”

Dr Lois Lee

Children of the Night
3450 Cahuenga Blvd
Unit 602
Los Angeles, Ca 90068-1592
I’m sorry. Why again was it tough for him to help? Because it was risky for him to build a corporation to save the children that were being exploited in part because of an industry he helped create?
Did rescuing those children make him and his empire feel better about their role in this evil perpetrated on the innocent?
As I said, I’m speechless. Am I missing something here?
I’m glad to know that there is hope for victims. That is the most important thing. They are loved by their Heavenly Father and Jesus and will use anything to rescue them. Even the misplaced motives of some.
Share your thoughts in the comments below.

The Many Sides of Tragedy


Everyone has their own perspective…

(Sara) Snippets of memories flashed. Bedroom exploits that had left her in tears. Rude comments and innuendos that confused her. And Brad’s many disappearances without explanation over the past six years of their marriage. Too numerous in these last few months to count anymore. They bombarded her with a sudden vengeance. She fought them off, but knew, deep in her soul, things had not ever been as they seemed.

No.

She couldn’t go there. Wouldn’t allow it. This would ruin everything. Her ideal family. Sure, things weren’t as great as she hoped. But she wasn’t going to entertain these intrusions into the life she fought so hard to maintain every day.

What does this say about you?

The whisper caught her off guard. A cry rose in her throat, but she forced it down. She knew the answer. It was her fault. No matter how hard she tried she would never be good enough.

(Brad)Why couldn’t he form the words? Say no. Throw her out? His mind played fantasies with Shaneel as the leading role. Pictures, movie scenes, videos rushed in on him as if in an attack. A luscious, sensuous, surrender-now barrage. Where had they come from? But he knew the answer before the question finished forming in his mind. He’d gorged himself on those images for years. Now they turned against him.

Shaneel’s touch burned his arm with a heat that set him ablaze.

Brad caught a glimpse of the picture he kept on his desk. His family smiled at him. Sara stared. He pushed his chair back. Away from the heat of the moment and the seductress taunting him.

(Lucinda)Pastor Lucinda Bell watched Sara until the kids’ entrance swallowed her up. Something about the young mother tugged at her heart. Appearances deceived, and she didn’t believe what she observed. To her, Sara’s cry for help was written all over her face. And not simply because of the couple of little mascara smudges left over from tears. The fact that her husband was obviously missing today also added to her concern.

She breathed in deeply and exhaled a prayer, hoping and pleading with Jesus that Sara would visit her in the next few days. Something wasn’t right in that family. Perhaps God would use her to help.

(Faith)Faith picked up her phone, started a text and erased it. Again. For the third time.

Ever since being with Sara at the hospital, a niggling sense of dread pushed at her to have a hard conversation with her new friend. But the right words didn’t materialize. Of course she’d taken over a couple of dinners, watched Boyd and Jasmine and sat with Sara chatting about babies and feeding schedules.

How could she put words to the unsettled feeling in the pit of her stomach? She’d glimpsed the awful bruising one day when she had stopped by to bring dinner, and Sara needed some help getting Taren situated on her lap for feeding. But Sara evaded her gentle questions and regaled stories of Brad’s loving helpfulness during her recovery. What if she was wrong? Could she be imagining the worst?

Find out the rest of the story in A Deadly Silence. Coming soon on Amazon.

The Effects of Pornography on Our Children


My latest novel, A Deadly Silence, soon to release, tackles the subject of pornography, sexual addiction and its potential for leading to domestic violence.

This deadly force lurks in darkness and silence. Only by speaking about it, can we find hope, healing and redemption. Families are being destroyed, and while we might focus on the spouse of the addict or the person struggling with the addiction, our children reap dire consequences as well.

This letter reveals how much our children suffer.  First seen and re-posted from Faithit.

I want to let you know first of all that I love you and forgive you for what this has done in my life. I also wanted to let you know exactly what your porn use has done to my life. You may think that this affects only you, or even your and mom’s relationships. But it has had a profound impact on me and all of my siblings as well.

I found your porn on the computer somewhere around the age of 12 or so, just when I was starting to become a young woman. First of all, it seemed very hypocritical to me that you were trying to teach me the value of what to let into my mind in terms of movies, yet here you were entertaining your mind with this junk on a regular basis. Your talks to me about being careful with what I watched meant virtually nothing.

Because of pornography, I was aware that mom was not the only woman you were looking at. I became acutely aware of your wandering eye when we were out and about. This taught me that all men have a wandering eye and can’t be trusted. I learned to distrust and even dislike men for the way they perceived women in this way.

As far as modesty goes, you tried to talk with me about how my dress affects those around me and how I should value myself for what I am on the inside. Your actions however told me that I would only ever truly be beautiful and accepted if I looked like the women on magazine covers or in porn. Your talks with me meant nothing and in fact, just made me angry.

As I grew older, I only had this message reinforced by the culture we live in. That beauty is something that can only be achieved if you look like “them”. I also learned to trust you less and less as what you told me didn’t line up with what you did. I wondered more and more if I would ever find a man who would accept me and love me for me and not just a pretty face.

When I had friends over, I wondered how you perceived them. Did you see them as my friends, or did you see them as a pretty face in one of your fantasies? No girl should ever have to wonder that about the man who is supposed to be protecting her and other women in her life.

I did meet a man. One of the first things I asked him about was his struggle with pornography. I’m thankful to God that it is something that hasn’t had a grip on his life. We still have had struggles because of the deep-rooted distrust in my heart for men. Yes, your porn watching has affected my relationship with my husband years later.

If I could tell you one thing, it would be this: Porn didn’t just affect your life; it affected everyone around you in ways I don’t think you can ever realize. It still affects me to this day as I realize the hold that it has on our society. I dread the day when I have to talk with my sweet little boy about pornography and its far-reaching greedy hands. When I tell him about how pornography, like most sins, affects far more than just us.

Like, I said, I have forgiven you. I am so thankful for the work that God has done in my life in this area. It is an area that I still struggle with from time to time, but I am thankful for God’s grace and also my husband’s. I do pray that you are past this and that the many men who struggle with this will have their eyes opened.

*This has been posted anonymously due to the nature of the topic.*

Look for A Deadly Silence coming soon!

When Sara Maree Matley uncovers a box of questionable material while unpacking after their family moves, she’s forced to examine the ideal life she’s fought so hard to portray as perfect. Surely her successful, popular husband, Brad, can’t be the owner of the contents. But when Brad’s behavior continues to digress, and Sara deals with her own past, life unravels, and Sara must make one of the hardest choices she’s ever faced.

 

Living with an Addict


Addiction comes in many forms.

Typically, when we say “addiction” we think of alcohol, drugs or maybe gambling. But we can have addictions to shopping, eating, not eating, reading, television, gaming, Facebook, checking emails, surfing the internet, magazines, exercise, pornography, sports, scrap-booking or sex. Anything that grabs our attention, pulls us into a place of needing it, and dictates our thoughts or actions has created an addiction. The ‘something’ we feel we must have; we can’t go without, shapes our lives and the lives of those we live with.

For decades I was shaped by the patterns of living with someone addicted to sex.

Over the following weeks, I will share what I learned through my experiences. I hope to help and encourage anyone feeling despair over your circumstances–either because you live with an addict or battle with addiction in some area. Most of us do to some extent at some point of our life. Recognizing patterns and symptoms can alert us to get the help we need. Honestly evaluating our particular situation is the first step in breaking free from the bondage of addiction.

While many patterns relate universally to any addiction (and some by themselves simply show a lack of growth in character or maturity), I’m relating the following patterns primarily with sexual addictions. Someone who is addicted to sex probably:

  1. Needs to be in control. The women in his fantasies do exactly what he wants and enjoy his power; therefore, he expects everyone in his life to submit to his desires. Sex makes him feel powerful and in control. He may use anger or violence to control his family, and may not acknowledge their needs or feelings since he has no control over those areas.
  2. Lacks respect for women. The degradation of women due pornography and prostitution causes the focus of a woman’s value to be on her ability to perform sexually or contribute materially. This can be particularly devastating for women choosing to stay home to raise children. That job consumes her time and energy without financial profit, and can leave her feeling worthless, especially if she can’t fulfill her husband’s sexual fantasies.
  3. Is self-absorbed. In a healthy relationship, each person desires to meet the needs of their spouse whenever possible, but an addict focuses entirely on meeting the desires of self regardless of how valid or pressing others’ situations may be. Family needs may be ignored. Someone addicted to sex can fulfill their needs almost anytime, anywhere because much of the stimulation and satisfaction comes from mental images. This constant, instant gratification makes it nearly impossible to put another person’s needs first.
  4. Uses manipulation. In order to get his way or keep his behavior hidden, the addict will often use whatever means necessary no matter what it costs. He may be kind and understanding one minute, making promises or begging forgiveness, then angry and violent the next. He may use guilt, self-pity or even whining to manipulate his family. In her book, The Dance of Anger, Dr. Harriet Lerner states, “If women are constantly made to feel guilty, they remain ‘in their place’ and are ineffective.”

To be continued…

It may be a grueling process to redefine who you are apart from the impact of these patterns, or to allow yourself to be extricated from a life of addiction, but there is hope.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

Galatians 5:1

 
Have you experienced any of these patterns either as an addict or living with one?
 

If you need help or would like prayer, please feel free to comment below or send me a private message at laurabennet14@gmail.com