BIO, Part I.
Hello, my name is Chong Kim. I am an Asian-Spanish American, thirty-one years of age and have been residing in the United States for nearly 22 years. I will be sharing my whole story in an essay form. It's about my survival from child rape, living in domestic violence, enduring classroom abuse, and racism, bullying and human trafficking. After everything I've gone through I have managed to still stand and smile at everyone and look at life at a different angle.
I was born in S. Korea in 1975 and I was told that my father and I arrived in the United States in 1977 and afterwards my mother. From the age of 3-6, I was sexually abused by my babysitter who not only touched me in a sexual way, but also photographed me and other small children through his camera. For the longest time I assumed I was only dreaming even though I knew the man personally, it was when I was 13 when I found out that all the years of nightmares of flashbacks of the despicable acts he did to me were actually true. From the time I was very young till I was 15, I grew up with a mother that physically beat me, tortured me, and threatened me with my life. My father was a workaholic so he was never home when my mother violently beat me, but when he was he had drinking parties where his friends also took advantage of me, I was sexually abused by several of his friends. While growing up in an abusive home, I was also taken advantage of by male principals and teacher sexually abusing me in school from when I was 8 years old thru 11, along with teachers who racially discriminated with and called me racial slurs of slander. I grew up in the rural parts of Texas and Oklahoma so racism wasn't uncommon; at least that's how they acted. By the time I was 14 to 15, I ran away from home, I couldn't take the abuse and landed in the system, bouncing from one foster home to another.
During my time in the "Child Protection System" I spent most of my youth in and out of court with a long dreaded custody battle between the states and my parents, when I saw my youngest sister crying, I became concerned about her welfare so I gave up and recanted my story and stated that everything I went through was a lie, otherwise they would've separated each one of us and I couldn't have that happened. So, by the time I was 17 I was sent home. The physical abuse from my mother didn't continue but the underlining emotional and mental abuse was still there. By the time I was 18; I moved out and moved in with a friend in Dallas, TX. I attended a business college and majored in "Criminology". In my second year I was romanced by a con. A man that was in military attire and claimed to love and cherish me because I had no dating experience and I had a low self-esteem I was not aware of the red flags. Shortly after he coerced me to go with him out of town to Florida just for the weekend, I was so swooned by his charm I couldn't see past the deceit. I became his hostage in an abandon home in Northern Oklahoma. While I was his prisoner he destroyed my social security card, Naturalized papers, driver's license and anything that could authenticate my identity. He stated to me that without these documents I would be treated like an immigrant and he was correct.
Eventually I eluded him and escaped and landed upon a woman that I thought I could trust. She offered to help me find refuge, shelter, and food by sending me to Vegas for a legitimate job. I accepted her offer without realizing that I was being sold for market. "Human Trafficking". I was kidnapped and was transported to Las Vegas, NV. I was involved in trafficking for more than six months up to 2 and half years. Repeatedly, I witnessed the beatings, rapes and murders of innocent women. Finally, I was able to escape from my master through a wealthy client who bought me for an undisclosed amount of money. Through his kindness I planned my way of another escape. Upon leaving Nevada, I was constantly on the run from former traffickers. My life resembled a fugitive fleeing from one location to another.
In the fall of 2000, I made contact with an advocate through the Internet, she advised me to relocate to a different state. Since then, I was able to take for granted the time to heal and find myself once again. Once I was able to regain emotional stability I was able to involve myself in volunteering my time as a legal advocate in the state of Minnesota, as well as promoting human and civil rights. I've also been working incessantly to establish a non-profit organization, while, at the same time volunteering in diverse capacities at several conferences regarding violence among women, child abuse, and human trafficking events. I've attended over 20 seminars and training in regards of: cyber crime, stalking, sexual violence, human trafficking, domestic violence, grassroots funding, collaboration, inspiration and healing opportunities, and training in advocacy and criminal law.
As I look back at the years gone by, I realized that the abuse have changed me significantly. One must come to terms to accept that we can't changed what have happened to us, but the greatest gift we can give ourselves and to others is the true significant of survival. I don't sit and wish over and over that my life could be different, because then I'd regret what I am doing now. I spend most of my life thanking God for allowing me to see life at a different scope. I went through counseling, group therapy, researching my diagnosis; I became in control of my mental issues and wanted the counselors to know that I wanted to heal instead of intoxicating my body with drugs. I use meditation, music, poetry, and dance to vent out my hurt and pain. I empower myself by singing, involving myself around positive people and focusing on time and energy with my children. My abuse my have taken my parents, my body, and my memories; but it did not take my spirit, my soul, or my dignity, because I refuse to allow my perpetrators to take the one thing I still and always had power over and that is my spirit.
Through my darkest hour, I came to know God as well. We had our arguments back and forth; yes I do talk to him every day of my life. I've been involving myself in various public speaking forums across the country from Europe to Brazil, from MN to CA and NY. I've made television appearances and magazine articles; I receive e-mails from other survivors and victims everyday thanking me to speak out. When I reach out to students at various colleges and I let them know that I am still moving. When I meet with other victims and survivors, I let them know there's still hope and it is within their reach. My main purpose to share my story to you is to let you know that no matter how hard life gets, you still have control to claim it back, it is your life no one else. I provide workshops and healing groups across the globe to other survivors/victims who are still hurting. People ask me, am I afraid of my abusers? I tell them, "No, I'm pissed and I'm claiming my life back and I do it with my voice." Sometimes prosecuting people isn't the only solution to heal, most of the time it is our voice that stands louder than a jury reading a verdict in court. As a legal advocate I should know . . . .
Thank you for listening. . . .
BIO, Part II
Chong Kim is a Korean-American survivor of human trafficking/child sex exploitation. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Chong, in the fall of 2000, found refuge in the state of Minnesota after escaping the trafficking industry. Since 2001, Miss Kim, has been volunteering her time as a legal advocate in the state of Minnesota, as well as promoting human and civil rights. Miss Kim has been working incessantly to establish a non-profit organization, while, at the same time volunteering in diverse capacities at several. She has attended over 20 seminars, regarding:
- Crime victims
- Domestic violence
- Immigrant victims of crime
- Professional advocacy training
- Facilitator training
- Cyber crimes/child pornography
- Technical assistance for grassroots funding
- Startup procedures for 501(c) (3) organizations
- Miss Kim is a contributing writer of the book, Not for Sale, (Feminist Resisting Pornography) which was edited by Christine Stark and Rebecca Whisnant.
- She was featured once in the Minnesota Daily: http://www.mndaily.com/articles/65875 and then, a second time in the Minnesota Daily, concerning the Clothesline Project: http://www.mndaily.com/articles/66455.
- Miss Kim initiated another article with Women's Press which can be accessed at: http://www.womenspress.com/
Chong, has accomplished public speaking concerning Human Trafficking. She uses her personal story to enlighten NGOs and political officials with the goal of strengthening the advocacy system in reaching out to victims of trafficking. She has traveled extensively to promote awareness of trafficking, and provides education regarding the diverse victims which are affected by it. Recently, she was a keynote speaker at a press conference in Europe; the article can be found at the following website: http://www.comminit.com/events_calendar/2005-events/events-4136.html
Chong Kim's speaking engagements:
(Sept. 2005) Speak Out Sisters; Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Miss Kim's first small group discussion where she shared her personal experience about Human Trafficking. In this small group she successfully connected with various people who have committed themselves to help Ms. Kim launch her non-profit through volunteer work, research, and support.
(Sept. 2005) Western Regional Task Force; San Diego, California.
Miss Kim shared for the first time her personal story at this conference. Hosted by the Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition and San Diego County, she received a small gift and a standing ovation for her heart-felt presentation.
(Oct. 2005) European Parliament; Brussels, Belgium
At this press conference, Miss Kim briefly shared her personal experience as a victim in the sex-industry. She achieved convincing her audience that Prostitution/Sex-Trafficking is two forms of violence against women. This conference was conducted by CATW (Coalition against Trafficking in Women) and the European Women's Parliament
(Nov. 2005) Asian American Student Association; St. Paul, Minnesota.
This was a Tri-State Universities endeavor to raise money for MASIE in honor of Miss Kim's work concerning improving the manner in which human trafficking is regarded. Miss Kim was invited to this fund raising dance to make a presentation for the students which attended. The Universities that were involved, were; St. Thomas, Macalister, St. Kate's, University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota in Mankato, and Hamlin University.
(Nov. 2005) (CNBC) Donny Deutsch-The Big Idea; New York City, New York.
For the first time, Miss Kim agreed to share her story on cable television.
(February 2006) Amnesty International USA Group 37; Minneapolis, MN
Miss Kim, shared her personal triumph in a small group discussion, and shared her vision regarding MASIE.
(March 2006) International Women's Day; Minneapolis, Minnesota.
This workshop was held at the University of Minnesota, Coffman Memorial. Hosted by Lauren Gilchrest, Miss Kim, Humphrey Fellows and a student, Vanna Chan, were guest speakers at this workshop regarding human trafficking.
(March 2006) Girl Fest; Berkeley, California.
Miss Kim was one of many speakers for the Girl fest Panel, (Feminist resisting Prostitution, Pornography, and Sex-Trafficking). She spoke out against the violence toward women in the sex-trade. Addresses which joined Miss Kim were: Melissa Farley, PRE; Annalisa, Gabriella Network; Brad Myles, Polaris Project; and Chris Stark, Not for Sale (Book Edition)
(March 2006) Women of Color-Macelester College; St. Paul, Minnesota.
Miss Kim addressed various small groups within this campus, sharing her story among the student body encouraging them to become involved in this movement to end trafficking/exploitation.
(April 2006) Macelester College; St. Paul, MN
Miss Kim continues to educate students who are eager to be involved in the demise of human trafficking, inspiring them to become volunteers.
(April 2006) Normandale Community College; Bloomington, MN
Miss Kim spoke among college students in regards to Human Trafficking in the US, there was about 40+ students and a few school faculty that attended the evening class to hear her speak. Students became inspired and over 20 of the students signed up to volunteer for MASIE.
(April 2006) Soroptimist Int'l; Lincoln, NE
Miss Kim, is not only a member of the Soroptimist Women in the Greater Minneapolis area, but will speak for the first time regarding her story, discussing the next steps regarding her vision, and will continue to inspire people across the nation to get involved.
(May 2006) Montel Williams Show; NYC, NY
Miss Kim will be sharing her personal story for the first time on public television. The website can be accessed: http://www.montelshow.com/show/?showID=4865
(Sept. 2006) HHS-Survivors of Human Trafficking Conference; Washington, DC
Survivors of sexual exploitation a voice and a chance to speak out on what services are needed to better help those who are breaking free of enslavement.
Chong, is a member/partner with these nationwide organizations:
Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition (CA) -member
Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking (VA) -partner
The Polaris Project (DC) -member
Coalition Against Women in Trafficking (NJ) -member
Rescue & Restore (DC)-collaborating partner
Speak Out Sisters - Ally Member
Soroptimist International for Women - Member
From 2005 through April, 2006, Chong has been working diligently to incorporate her vision; MASIE (Minorities & Survivors Improving Empowerment), She has successfully launched two additional branches, Oklahoma and California.
She received an award from the National Campaign for Tolerance, where her name will be embraced on the Wall of Tolerance in Montgomery, Alabama which testifies of her commitment to maintain a public stand against hate, injustice and intolerance.
In April of 2006, her efforts were recognized through FNVW (Friends for Non-Violent World) and they have become the fiscal sponsor for MASIE. Currently, Miss Kim has established a hotline specifically for the victims of trafficking.
Q & A
1. What is your favorite coping skill?
Music, I play piano or write poetry to cope through my problems. When I have flashbacks or start to feel sad, I'll turn on my headset and listening to inspiring music like: Mariah Carey, India Arie, Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys and etc. Women empowerment songs.
2. What was the best piece of healing advice you ever received?
When my son's father and I first met and he saw that I was involved in the sex-industry and when he asked me why I was still in it after escaping, I told him because of my past and he said that was an excuse, that if I wanted to get beyond hurt and anger, I have to apply myself into something positive instead of involving myself into drugs, sex, and money. He taught me that the best way to get revenge from our abusers was to heal, because it showed them that they never had power in the first place. That was the best healing advice I ever received.
3. What was the worst piece of healing advice you ever received?
When a counselor yelled at me and told me to "get over it".
4. What were the three hardest obstacles to overcome?
My childhood abuse from my mother, my trafficking experience, and my son's father's death.
5. Have you ever hit "rock bottom"? What kept you going?
Yes, I have hit rock bottom. In February 22, 2000; I was going to commit suicide and venting on self-pity until I realized my son at 4 months was being left behind from his father's death following mine, if I had went through it. I got angry and decided to claim my life back, my fear of my son following the suicide pattern was not acceptable to me and the only way I could make sure he couldn't blame himself was for me, his mother to get stronger.
6. What does forgiveness mean to you?
Forgiveness to me is about letting go. Allowing ourselves to "live" again, we can't move on when there are barriers in front of us and if we hold on to past grudges we can't move on.
7. When did you know that everything was going to be okay -- that you were going to make it?
Everyday since I was a small child.
8. Is there anything that you would like to say to someone just beginning their journey?
The only advise I can give at this moment is to take one day at a time, but you have to get to a place in your life when you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. (An old NA adage that was told to me and it is so true.)
9. If there was one piece of advice you would give, or one thing you would want the significant other, best friend, etc. of a survivor to keep in mind through out the survivors healing process, what would that be?
The only advice I have to give is to keep hanging on, even if it is hard that we must believe that our lives are worth something and that we are survivors for a reason. Never give up, seek out support, and it's okay to vent and cry, but allow yourself time to heal is the most important part.
I may be small,
But I have a big heart.
I may not have fought in battles,
But I'm not a quitter.
I may not have,
Trophies hanging on my wall,
But the things I went through,
Only one can imagine.
Who I was then,
And who I am now,
Is no different.
I've only shifted the gears,
In how I chose to survive.
I love to cry,
I love to laugh.
I love to speak,
If you'd only let me.
Don't judge me,
From where I've been.
With the triumphs I've succeeded
I love to sing,
I love to dance,
I love to read,
And relax on the grass.
My eyes they tell a story,
My tears will explain the pain.
All I ask is for you to listen,
And I will tell you my name.
I have friends,
I have inspires
I don't have foes,
Just the challengers.
There's no perfection.
They've taught me,
Will know who I am.
I'm not looking for fame
To buy my way through happiness,
Only took me so far.
I'm not a woman,
On the cover of a magazine.
I'm real as they come.
I'm a woman,
Not because I have to be,
But I'm proud to be one.
I'm looking for my best friend,
Someone who won't judge me,
For the person I created,
And will love the person I became.
I can teach you things,
You can show me things,
I've only dreamed about.
Who am I?
Just take a look
Into my eyes,
For I am a . . .
By: Chong N. Kim
July 8, 2002
Bound by restraints, you thrashed me to shame.
Down on my knees, I had forgotten my name.
My blood was spilled on the damp dark floor,
You perused my body, and made me your whore.
My existence Suppressed; you controlled me through fear,
Imprisoned underground, where no one could hear.
Precious freedom appeared far away;
Caged like an animal, enslaved everyday.
Favored by destiny I finally escaped:
A pursued fugitive, beaten and raped.
Ten years have passed now I stand proud and tall,
The healing was painful, no intervention at all.
Because of my plight I learned to stay strong,
The survivor within became my true song.
Recanting my life I look back on your face,
You tried to break me in guilt and disgrace.
Your still small voice pierced the inflicted silence,
I shattered your bonds through faith and defiance.
Presuming my identity was crushed and deleted,
I triumphed your arrogance, I'm now undefeated.
By: Chong N. Kim
November 17, 2005
Imagine, existing in a parallel world, the converse
of the one in which you live?
Imagine, your childhood dreams
shattered by the dark fantasy of another?
Imagine, the demise of romantic dreams
by the lies and fears of domestic abuse.
Yet, survival becomes a timeless quest;
quivering hope longs a new vision....
Imagine, the home of your youth is a house from the outside
and a prison from within...
Imagine, no warm beds to comfort for sleep,
the cold long night embraces barren feet;
Holding close the shreds of newspapers;
a wooden bench becomes a pillow...
Imagine, converting a luxurious home
into a one room cell;
Sharing a space with total strangers,
and striving to keep your soul from the grave...
Imagine, losing your children to a merciless system;
they call you unfit,
all the while protecting them from an abusive parent.
Imagine authorities conveying these words:
The chances of success
are remote and doubtful...
Imagine, the fragile diagnosis which says
that one cannot be a champion athlete;
the impaired legs of a once hopeful runner...
Imagine, death chained to a faceless bomb,
the unknowing fear of every ticking second:
The fight becomes a race against time;
remaining focused on the righteous cause...
Imagine, the end of ones existence through nature
The winds, the seas, the trembles and flames....
They destroy the home which was built by hands,
the memories fade in an aftermath of violence..
Rebuilding the crushed spirit once again;
hope still lingers through the perpetual nightmare...
Imagine, turning such pain into eternal strength,
a friend called survival produced true faith,
belief within when no one else seemed to care...
Can you imagine it?
Over 10, 000 survivors did,
From child abuse to natural disasters,
From losing children to a war of circumstances,
From Domestic Abuse to Homelessness.
By: Chong N. Kim
Letter to my father:
I'm hurt, because I feel I'm losing you
I'm hurt, because I know I'm going to miss you
I'm hurt, because of the things we didn't get to say or do
I'm hurt, because it didn't have to end this way
I'm hurt, because you couldn't accept me
I'm hurt, because you denied my pain
I'm hurt, because I am alone right now
I'm hurt, because you never called me your "Little Girl"
I'm hurt, because you said you hated me
I'm hurt, because one look in your eyes,
I break down and cry
I'm hurt, because I had to fabricate stories
Just to see you smile at me
I'm hurt, because I could never amount to the daughter you 'wanted'
I'm hurt, because I never had a daddy to rely on
And yet I feel so torn apart inside.
I'm hurt, that we couldn't communicate
I'm hurt, because I needed so you much in my life
I'm hurt, because I'll never get to know the "wonderful man" that someone else got to see.
Most of all I'm hurt, because I still love you . . .
I'm angry, because I gave you my all
And yet I am still a 'failure' in your eyes
I'm angry, because of the false imagine you display to those who know you less
I'm angry, because you became a father to someone else and not of your own
I'm angry, because others sympathize your pain, and my is of less
I'm angry, because no matter how hard it was to love you
I always continued to believe that someday you would love me back
I'm angry, because we could've been close
But instead we're more strangers than two people at a bus stop
I'm angry, because you'll fight for my son, but you couldn't fight for me?
I'm angry, because I know I will rise above this,
And succeed in my life just as it should be,
And you won't be here to see it.
I'm angry, because you are missing out on the wonders
That your daughter can do in this world.
I'm angry, because you chose not to be apart of my
Successes and joys
I'm angry, because when you are gone,
I'll feel this pain and I don't want it.
I'm angry, because I don't want to grieve for you,
Even though I know I will
I'm angry, because I still love you no matter what.
By: Chong N. Kim