I'm a 23-year-old man and a sexual exploitation survivor. On April 8, I spoke at the state Capitol in support of Senate bills 1165 and 1388. After speaking to the legislative aides of Sens. Carol Liu and Mark Wyland, I feel real change in combating human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children is possible.
When I was 5 years old, my mom allowed her boyfriend to rape me in exchange for drugs. It only lasted a week, but it felt like an eternity. Memories of that time in my life are fractured, but the effect of that trauma will follow me for the rest of my life.
Men like me are often silent about sexual abuse. There is so much more awareness and support for women and girls who are victims of sexual exploitation.
Luckily, that's changing.
In the almost two decades since my abuse, a lot has been done to protect children from sex abuse; the creation of a national sex offender registry and the passing of Prop. 35 here in California, but it's not enough.
That's why I also support SB1388, which seeks to increase the penalties for sex buyers. This will stop the flow of money flowing into the illicit sex trade (Sens. Ted Lieu, Jerry Hill, Holly J. Mitchell).
The increased fines from prosecuted sex buyers would be directed to victim services.
Through my own advocacy work with Love Never Fails and California Against Slavery, I've learned people who are trying to traffic kids for the purpose of sexual exploitation are experts at separating them from their family and friends.
In many cases, I think peers are more likely to know about potentially harmful behavior than parents are.
Senate Bill 165 (Sens. Holly J. Mitchell, Marty Block) aims to add sexual abuse and sex trafficking prevention education to the health education for junior high and high school students.
When I heard about the young girl who was found naked in Berkeley recently, after being kidnapped and sexually assaulted, I was outraged.
I just don't understand why policy leaders are dragging their feet. How can they not support the addition of education on the dangers of sexual exploitation of children in public schools?
The passing of SB1165 will help middle school and high school students recognize the danger they face and open a channel of communication about this very real threat.
It's taken too long for lawmakers to develop policies that protect kids and punish sex buyers. I support SB1388 and SB1165. And you should, too.
For more information, visit loveneverfailsus.com.
Christopher Dycus is a resident of Castro Valley.