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Monday, January 12, 2015

"Stolen" (Katariina Rosenblatt)

TITLE: Stolen: The True Story of a Sex Trafficking Survivor
AUTHOR: Katariina Rosenblatt
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2014, (240 pages).

Trust is good. Misplaced trust is not. The former keeps one safe and secure. The latter can trick one into sex trafficking. This is exactly what the author of this book had personally experienced. Having trusted a decent looking lady called Mary, who appeared to be a close confidante, a good friend, and a helpful samaritan, she was eventually manipulated, deceived, and her innocence stolen from her. With deep honesty about her own perceptions and urgency to let her story heighten the need to be careful with strangers, Rosenblatt traces her childhood story where she was unwittingly "groomed for the life of sex trafficking" at a tender age of 13. With Mary, Rosenblatt felt treated with respect, with love, and with dignity. Unfortunately, she failed to pick up signals along the way, falling into the trap of being chosen. Her need for a loving dad was falsely met by tricks and traps. Gradually, she entered into a spiral of drugs and deceit. Unlike some stories where girls are captured and forced into sex slavery against their wills, Rosenblatt's story highlights a different kind of deception that makes victims go back willingly to the perpetrators. Why? Answer: Drugs and misplaced trust. The cycle is horrendous. She needed money to feed her drug habits. She obtains money through sex and in turn needs more drugs to sustain this vicious cycle, willlingly! Her story is also a sad one. Born to immigrant parents who divorced when she was three, her biological dad sexually abused her, and often was violent toward her and the family. She had no permanent place to call home. She was even molested by her babysitter!

With story after story about her being trapped, escaped, enslaved, freed, and the turbulences of flowing in and out of drugs and a horrid lifestyle, Rosenblatt writes in such a way as to warn readers that such things are very real especially in first world countries. Sex trafficking is not just about sex. It involves heavy use of drugs, abuse of children, gangs, guns, deceptions, and downplayed by a society that often does not seem to care.

Fortunately, she was among the 15% of victims who managed to escape eventually. The second half of the book details her slow climb out of the pit of darkness. It begins with affirmative actions that bring back semblance of dignity to her self-worth. She tried modeling but was soon facing another different kind of challenges: teen pregnancy, early marriage and subsequently separated. She went back to school and graduated from Trinity University with a college degree in Human Resources Management. She started a business, got another degree (law), and eventually set up HOPE, a ministry to help others avoid the traps of sex trafficking.

Rosenblatt's story is not simply a story of someone who had their innocence and youth stolen from underneath their noses. It is a warning for the rest of us to sit up and take note of the dangers that can impact young lives. Parents need to know about the vulnerabilities their children often face. Being over-protective in such cases like Rosenblatt's can be a life saver too. Throughout the book, Rosenblatt reveals how she felt God speaking and guiding her. It is a miracle she was able to escape the entire trade in the first place. Readers will be glad to see how Rosenblatt, instead of remaining bitter and angry about her past, chooses to do something positive about it. She is an active contributor to the public through her legal expertise, her powerful communications, her deep understanding of the insidious workings of sex trade, and above all, her deeply frank sharing of her own life. The book is surely an indictment of how society can deteriorate to such a pathetic level, where victims of sex trafficking can become recruiters and perpetrators as well. Something must break such a vicious cycle. In fact, Someone needs to intervene. Rosenblatt's story is a testimony of how God had helped to intervene.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Revell Books and Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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