Thank you to Marney Keenan for alerting me to the publication of a critically important book, What They Couldn’t Take, a memoir of survival from familial sex trafficking, by Adira James (January 7, 2022). The book is out in paperback and Ebook formats on Amazon, Ebook on Kobo, and paperback and Ebook on Barnes and Noble:
Marney’s blog entry on the book can be found at: https://www.thesnowkillings.com/blog. I ordered the Kindle version this morning and read this powerful memoir today. I ordered a hard copy for the public library near me and will order another to drop off at the child advocacy center serving children in four counties near me.
In addition to exhaling the truth about her parents’ trafficking her to pedophile rings and child pornography rings active in Detroit and the nearby suburbs in the seventies and eighties, James describes the survival skills she learned as a child and her journey of healing to learn to be present in her life. As she explains, while this is her first book, it is not the first time she has spoken about what happened to her in the interest of helping others.
Familial sex trafficking is vastly underreported for obvious reasons. James’ parents, who lived in the Sherwood Forest neighborhood of Detroit, sold her from at least the age of two until she “aged out” at twelve, to the large pedophile ring operating in the city and suburbs of Detroit. They sold her to “mostly middle-aged white males, like my father, many of whom worked at his company.” Sherwood Forest, it turns out, wasn’t very magical. “Clients” came to the house. She was chloroformed when being transported to the homes of “clients” in the surrounding area.
She describes a complicit pediatrician with a practice in her neighborhood who often treated her for various physical maladies due to the abuse–and then raped her himself while she was in the exam room as her mother sat patiently in the waiting room. When as a teen she landed a coveted part in the Nutcracker Ballet, she was thrilled until she saw she would be dancing on the same stage as an adult male from the pedophile ring. As James explains, “there are so many like you.”
When it comes to making a difference, I ask myself ‘why not me?’ Why not me when it comes to sharing my story and trying to help others. I spent my childhood in a canoe that anyone could rent and I lived my life adrift in a dissociated state most of the time. You, my parents, and the rest of the ring took so much from me–but you didn’t take my spark, and you didn’t distort my soul. What you couldn’t take was the essence that is me.
There are so many like you.
This has to stop!What They Couldn’t Take, Kindle Edition, p. 110.
The chapter devoted to a letter to medical, law enforcement and other child-serving professionals is really important. Buy this book, read it and pass it on to someone who works with kids. You could save a life.
To the author: May your courage, compassion and clarity help you cross further from surviving to thriving. Thank you for writing this important book, sharing your truth, opening eyes and hopefully saving lives.