So many of us abuse survivors deal with money shame. Is it exploiting others to ask to be paid for mental health work? Why is it so hard to make a living? These were questions I asked myself daily—and they brought up SO much stress. I felt bad and wrong for wanting anything to do with money…and I knew I had a lot of “money blocks.”
But, it wasn’t until I deeply explored my abuse and trafficking history that I realized “Oh, this is why I’m so anxious and ashamed about asking to be paid for my work.”
Those realizations sparked my journey towards abundance and peace around money. I was able to release money blocks.
I think a lot of this discussion will resonate with you too, so check it out. Especially if you’re an entrepreneur like me! (And even extra if you’re a sex trafficking survivor.)
Video transcript (slightly edited for clarity)
Hello, hello! It’s Calion here and I’m going to be talking about a very unique topic today. So obviously there are a lot of self-help leaders and mental health professionals and coaches and peer support things and all of that that talk about money, and the blocks that we have when it comes to making money. But how many of those actually talk about what that’s like after you’ve survived child abuse? Or, in my case, child sex trafficking?
So I had some really unique experiences coming to terms with the perspectives that I have about money and how that influences my journey as an entrepreneur. As someone who has to sell products or services in order to make a living and to survive.
“I’ve had a lot of reflections on money blocks.”
And although your experience may not be exactly what I went through, of being a sex trafficking survivor, I think that a lot of this is going to apply to a lot of us abuse survivors. So obviously there are a couple trigger warnings for this episode, specifically in sex trafficking/slash modern day slavery. So if those are triggering topics for you, just a heads up. I’m not going to be going in-depth into my story, but I will be referencing things from my past a little bit, okay?
Ever since I’ve been financially independent, so no longer under my parents care, I have lived in poverty. And usually pretty serious poverty, where it was a real struggle to pay bills. And I’ve racked up debt and things like that in order to survive and make a living and navigate through this world.
So obviously some of the factors behind that are oppressive factors, like being trans and how that’s difficult. Being disabled from the things that I’ve gone through. So I knew that obviously these were things that were factors in my life and you probably have some as well.
“I think in general it’s just harder for us to be survivors to make steady income. We carry this burden and this hurt with us every single day. And that’s tiring!”
So of course it’s going to be additionally tiring to live in a capitalistic society that makes us work really hard to make any sort of basic living. So I was like, “Okay what am I doing?” And as an entrepreneur, as someone who is in control of the things that I do to sell products and to reach people and to build community, “What am I doing that is preventing me possibly from making additional income? From actually making and meeting my cost of living?”
So I started to explore some things that I might be doing that are leading to that as well. So that’s what I’m talking about today.
The first thing that I realized when reflecting was an intense hurt in my chest. So that kind of space right under my ribs was really aching. It almost felt a lot like grief. You know, that really intense feeling when you lose someone. So I was like, “Okay there has to be some sort of connection between money and the stress that I feel around it. And the mindsets that I have around it and the stuff that I went through in the past.” And I started to explore it. And then all of a sudden it clicked.
“Selling work is triggering for me. Asking for money is triggering.”
And it was kind of obvious as soon as I realized that. Because as a child I was sold for sex. I was literally a sexual commodity, I was an object.
I was dehumanized and money was something that was incredibly traumatic for me, because that was the means that people used to abuse and traffic me. Being bought and sold out of my neighbor’s home right under the noses of my community, even my own family. It was something that was so deeply traumatic. Of course it impacted how I saw money! because my first formative experiences with money were seeing it exchanged and seeing it cause me pain!
So as I started getting more into anti-trafficking work, I learned a lot about the statistics around sex trafficking and I learned that a single victim of sex trafficking can make their trafficker $250,000 a year.
That was a perspective that helped me was to recognize, “Hey, I was exploited. That was taken from me, so I have a right to reclaim that.”
This was what was empowering at first to me was to just realize people made money off of me. Well why can’t I make money off of me?
“Basically it just helped me realize that I deserve to be paid for the work that I do.”
This time I’m doing work that I love and that I’m actually consenting to doing. Obviously that’s the core of not being exploited or abused. In addition to that, I also recognized that I was continuing that cycle of exploitation of, in this case self-exploitation by not recognizing that I deserve to be paid for the labor that I was putting out there. Because that was the same thing that was happening to me.
Obviously there were more factors. That was abuse, that was traumatic, that was really violent stuff. But the foundation of that was that I was being exploited for money and that helped me realize I don’t want to do that to myself. I don’t want to exploit my time and my energy and my skills. I don’t want to do that stuff completely for free, and I don’t want to be living in this place where I’m struggling.
“I’m at risk for being re-victimized, because I’m living in poverty.”
I don’t want that for me.
So when I go out there and I say, “Here, this is an offering that I have.” Or, “Here, why don’t you consider donating to a trafficking survivor or things that allow money to flow into my life,” I’m no longer feeling like that is something unethical. Because I realized that before I was thinking, “Oh asking people for money was me exploiting them.”
And I think that that’s a really common perspective and I’ve heard that time and time again from different abuse survivors, including those who haven’t gone through any experiences of trafficking.
So I think that we fear so much exploiting others and the cost of that is that we start exploiting ourselves. So basically being paid for my labor was a way of going against that cycle, of saying, “You know what? Exploitation is not healthy. It is not safe, it is not productive, it is not something that I want to be a part of. So I’m also going to make sure that I, in the ways that I can control, are not being exploited.”
“I realized, ‘Wait, asking to be paid for the work that I do is an anti-abuse act.'”
So basically the foundation behind this, and the part that I think really connects to a lot of us abuse survivors is asking ourselves, “Do we feel like we’re exploiting people when we simply ask to be paid? And why is that?” Because, after all, the people who decide to pay us are doing so consensually. We’re not forcing or prying it out of them. We are simply saying, “Here is my offering. Here is what I can provide.” And asking for equal exchange.
So I really hope that this is super interesting and super thought-provoking for you. And something that hopefully steps a little bit outside the very normative conversations about money blocks, mindsets, and things like that, and taps into something that’s a lot more trauma-informed and comes from a place of lived experience.
“You are always welcome to comment, and you can share your experiences as you explore this.”
You can share questions that you have or anything of that sort. But I would absolutely love to hear if you feel there’s some sort of thoughts or perspectives on exploitation that might connect to your money mindset, as well! One last note too. I do want to acknowledge that capitalism and just how it is is obviously a system of exploitation.
So this is trying to see, “Okay, beyond those oppressive factors, what are the things within what we can control that have to do with perpetuating a cycle of exploitation?”
I actually do take donations for the work that I do. I am a trafficking survivor, so this helps empower me and helps make sure that I’m not re-victimized and that I’m in a stable and supportive perspective and situation.
“One of the best things that you can do for survivors of trafficking is financially support them.”
So if you have a little bit to give, my donation link is right down in the description below. And I would absolutely love to receive your generous offer and I’m very grateful for that! And then, of course, go ahead and like if you enjoyed this video and subscribe to my channel for more interesting takes and real deep exploration into trauma recovery and abuse recovery. Also, share this video if you found it interesting, if you found it insightful. And some other abuse survivors who might find this interesting as well.
Alrighty, well thanks so much for being here with me! I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts and I hope that you have a wonderful day.