Charity of the Month: July
Can you believe it's already July?! This year sure it flying by...
Well, without further delay, let's talk about the "Charity of the Month" for July. Many of you may not know, but July is #nationalminoritymentalhealthawareness month, as well as "World Day against Trafficking in Persons" on July 30.
I'm passionate about Mental Health in general, but these two topics are heavy hitters to my heart. My eyes are watering up as I am typing these words on my screen. Where do I even begin?
Well, one of the biggest realizations I had when I first started learning about what mental health truly meant was how much this knowledge lacked in the African American and Latino community. Those of you that have been following me for a while have heard me say that these minorities are always taught to be "strong" and just "suck it up". Well, that is not true strength. Nor is it healthy!
As a result of me holding things in for so long, I developed something called #conversiondisorder. It is basically where emotional responses and stressful reactions are manifested as neurological symptoms. So instead of feeling anxious or scared, my arm will start to go numb. When I felt angry or stressed, my face might go numb and start drooping. It doesn't help that I do have other neurological issues from more "organic" causes (that's a story for another time), so for the longest, it was extremely difficult to distinguish when I was having neuro symptoms from brain and nerve damage or conversion disorder.
As far as trafficking...smh.. aw man. God help me speak this ugly, heavy truth!
I was a victim of human trafficking. The initial stint was set up as a modeling gig. The sad part? It was boyfriend at the time who set me up for this. He pretended to not know what was going on, but I eventually found out he had plenty of experience dealing with escorts. Some people are under this impression that escorts or "call girls" are these sexy vixens who just happen to be nymphos that live to please men and get paid. No! The sad reality is that most of them are drug addicts (as I became at the time) and are getting their a** beat behind closed doors. The first time I tried to leave, they threatened to kill my mother and family. At the time, my mother had a restaurant in Hollywood, Florida and everything. I was so afraid for my family to suffer consequences for something they had nothing to do with. So I took on the "punishment" and operated out of fear and did not try to leave again for a very long time.
It was so sad. I would pretend to be working modeling jobs, flying from city to city, 4 days at a time (at least that is what I told my family). The reality was I was being shipped around like cargo under close supervision, in case I tried to make a run for it in one of the cities or the airport.
NO ONE is immune to this. This experience did not happen to me in a third world country...it happened right here in the United States! Right here in South Florida! The same city I was an honor roll student in, playing the flute in marching band and started my modeling career was the same city where I got swept into this monstrosity of a situation.
Please be safe. Please spread the word. Educate yourself and others! I made a video speaking more about this subject on our Instagram page's IGTV. Check it out at www.instagram.com/hopeforthebeautifulminds .