They Don’t Know My Name

They Don’t Know My Name

Peggysue WellsBy Peggysue Wells4 Minutes

Excerpt from The Slave Across the Street by Theresa Flores and PeggySue Wells


To the men who used me night after night, I was not a human being. As they performed the most intimate act a man and a woman engage in, I was only a dollar value. A commodity.

To know this in my formative teenage years, during that period when a woman defines her worth and identity, proved devastating. How does a child begin to process this?

To feel, to hear, that so many, many men did not care about me at all, in fact they celebrated my humiliation, degradation, and pain, was a critical wound to my soul. It was a bitter view of inhumanity to an idealistic teenager.

This awareness leads a victim of human trafficking to lose all love, even for themselves. When others don’t value or love you, it becomes difficult to love yourself. There is no healthy example. Shame, embarrassment, and guilt fill the vacuum where love should thrive.

Often the heart and the brain give conflicting messages. My heart was wounded from so many men treating me without care or value. Certain locations, smells, words, or songs can trigger memories. One day a friend and I watched a movie on trafficking called Call and Response. As I sat in my theatre seat, trying to be strong and not remember, the passionate words of a song penetrated my carefully constructed shell.

They don’t know my name…”

The memory rushed forward like a wave crashing upon a rocky beach. On that night the room smelled of sex, smoke, and musky incense when an older, attractive, olive skinned man entered. He looked upon me, splayed naked on the bed, my hair rumpled, my young body wet and exhausted from being mounted by so many men. Rarely did anyone look me in the eyes but this man did, and I saw admiration and sadness reflected there.

“What is your name?” he asked in a rough accent.

Knowing I would be punished, I didn’t dare say a word.

The kind-eyed man seemed out of place among these other brutes. He turned to Vince. “What is her name?”

Vince looked at him with disgust. “What does it matter? She has no name.”

His words struck my heart. I turned my head to the side as tears rolled down my cheek.

“Never mind,” I heard the man say. “I have changed my mind. The deal is off.”

I turned to watch the dignified man walk regally out of the room.

I felt Vince’s anger and his repulsion of the man who refused his prize. “Get up and get dressed,” he spat. “You’re no good to me anymore tonight. Get out of here. I will tell David to take you home now. And this better not ever happen again! You are costing me money!”

While I was grateful that I didn’t have to endure any more that night, all I could think of was that this kind man hadn’t helped me escape.

I was worth nothing.

I didn’t matter.

I had no name.


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