Monday, January 24, 2011

The Road Through Wonderland: Surviving John Holmes

by Susan Murphy-Milano

The Road Through Wonderland is a real-life story that impacts not only the storyteller, but those affected 365 days a year by human trafficking--the abuse and power and control happening behind closed doors and across the country. Tune into Nancy Grace or Jane Velez-Mitchell and and all you get is 30-second sound bites of human tragedy neatly packaged for commercial viewing. In my opinion, there is the real tragedy.

We don’t bother to listen to victims and their families unless they have made the nightly news. We do not take the time to understand and learn from others who could stop children being taken from our streets and sold for sex. We do not listen to the battered woman’s cries for help until she is listed in an obituary. We wait until a helpless child is murdered by a family member before we show any outrage.

It is time we stop and listen to those who have survived the unimaginable. We need to allow survivors voices to be heard so that lives are no longer condensed into sound bites. The subject of human trafficking in this country still has a long way to go and there is one voice effectively answering the call that is changing lives for those in harms way, Dawn Schiller.

Dawn is the author of The Road Through Wonderland: Surviving John Holmes, which tells the story of a young girl who was caught in the whirlwind of the underworld surrounding John Holmes, an infamous porn star with many questionable ties.

From a broken home, Dawn Schiller was, by society’s definition, a "throwaway teen." For survival in a poor home with a disabled father, she was unwittingly thrown into the arms of John Holmes at the age of 15. Dawn was at this man’s side for years, even as he got her hooked on drugs, just like thousands of today’s trafficked teens. He beat her, and then prostituted her on the street corners of Los Angeles. She was, by all accounts, carefully brainwashed, groomed to bring in money, and trafficked so Holmes could maintain his drug habit and ultimate power over this child. When she didn’t bring enough cash in from the streets, Holmes withheld food and the basic necessities for daily survival.

Survival is what Dawn Schiller’s book is about, not the infamous porn star and self proclaimed public persona, but the abuser which his fans never saw up close and personal. Frankly, that is why abusive men get away with their violent and controlling behavior, the world sees the side they want you to see and nothing more. In the eyes of his fans it is not possible for John Holmes to have treated anyone unkindly. What those adoring fans, who still watch his movies, refuse to acknowledge is that John Holmes was, first and foremost, a human trafficker. He hijacked the life of teenager Dawn Schiller.

Most teens do not survive. Instead, we read about them only after they are abducted and are reported missing by their families. Dawn Schiller is changing all hat. She uses her story with the hope that other young teens won’t fall into the same hell that she did. She has developed a national presentation titled “Our Throwaway Teens: Who Are They and How Can We Help?” to raise awareness of the vulnerabilities of teens growing up in abusive and neglectful environments.

Dawn educates audiences about what a teen might be experiencing internally when targeted and groomed by a predator, how to identify a young victim in trouble, pedophile seduction techniques, and the use of drugs to manipulate and trap a victim. She gives an inside view of what it’s like to be a throwaway teen and how we, as a community, can help. Dawn has founded E.S.T.E.A.M., (Empowering Successful Teens through Education, Awareness & Mentoring), a nonprofit dedicated to assisting teens who are struggling to find a safe and successful path to adulthood.

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."--Anne Frank.

1 comment:

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