Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale, an Activist Finds Her Calling and Heals Herself

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Overview

A deeply moving story by a survivor of the commercial sex industry who has devoted her career to activism and helping other young girls escape "the life"

At thirteen, Rachel Lloyd found herself caught up in a world of pain and abuse, struggling to survive as a child with no responsible adults to support her. Vulnerable yet tough, she eventually ended up a victim of commercial sexual exploitation. It took time and incredible resilience, but ...

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Overview

A deeply moving story by a survivor of the commercial sex industry who has devoted her career to activism and helping other young girls escape "the life"

At thirteen, Rachel Lloyd found herself caught up in a world of pain and abuse, struggling to survive as a child with no responsible adults to support her. Vulnerable yet tough, she eventually ended up a victim of commercial sexual exploitation. It took time and incredible resilience, but finally, with the help of a local church community, she broke free of her pimp and her past.

Three years later, Lloyd arrived in the United States to work with adult women in the sex industry and soon founded her own nonprofit—GEMS, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services—to meet the needs of other girls with her history. She also earned her GED and won full scholarships to college and a graduate program. Today Lloyd is executive director of GEMS in New York City and has turned it into one of the nation's most groundbreaking nonprofit organizations.

In Girls Like Us, Lloyd reveals the dark, secretive world of her past in stunning cinematic detail. And, with great humanity, she lovingly shares the stories of the girls whose lives she has helped—small victories that have healed her wounds and made her whole. Revelatory, authentic, and brave, Girls Like Us is an unforgettable memoir.

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Editorial Reviews

Geoffrey Canada
"With empathy and intellect, Rachel Lloyd brings to light the heart-breaking stories of these lost, forgotten, and abused girls. Her own life story is a source of inspiration and hope. She is an important new voice of conscience to which America needs to pay attention."
Marie Claire
"Fascinating and moving."
Corrie Pikul
"Riveting. . . . [Lloyd’s] passionate, persuasive arguments for recognition and protection give a voice to the thousands of girls all around us who work and suffer in near invisibility."
Jennie Yabroff
"Heartbreaking. . . . But the book is also at times funny, bawdy, and optimistic, as is Lloyd herself."
Alex Kotlowitz
"Rachel Lloyd’s astonishing stories of life on the street have an accumulative power that left me reeling. What makes Girls Like Us such an extraordinary achievement is that her storytelling is unflinchingly honest, and yet filled with a sense of promise, filled with a profound sense of hope."
Mira Nair
"This book will burn a hole in your heart. The beauty of Rachel Lloyd’s searing memoir is how she exorcises the pain of her own troubled girlhood by connecting with hundreds of young women on a brutal path."
Sarah Jones
"Rachel Lloyd’s memoir should be mandatory reading for every cop, prosecutor, judge, and ‘john’, but also every mainstream American who thinks racism, classism, and misogyny don’t exist."
Janice Erlbaum
"Girls Like Us is a life-changing book, in every sense of the word. Rachel Lloyd changed her life in order to help change the lives of thousands of others—read her incredibly powerful story, and your life will be changed too."
Richard J. Estes
"Girls Like Us is a powerful and eloquent recounting of the lives of children and young women caught up in the ravages of sexual exploitation….[It] offers valuable insights into understanding the complex emotional and economic factors that contribute to the exploitation of children and youth."
Marie Claire
“Fascinating and moving.”
Library Journal - BookSmack!
In 1998 at age 23, Lloyd founded GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services), a New York City-based nonprofit organization to help commercially sexually exploited young women and girls. Her memoir recounts her journey from a 13-year-old school dropout in England trying to support her unstable mother through years as a commercially exploited worker in the German sex industry before finding stability and safety. Arriving in the United States, she set out to break the system that had abused her, ultimately altering laws and helping to protect victims from criminal prosecution.What I'm Telling My Friends This consciousness-shifting book shreds stereotypes and perceptions of prostitution. Eradicating commercial sexual exploitation seems impossible, but GEMS is a light looming large. — "Memoir Short Takes," Booksmack! 1/6/11
Kirkus Reviews

A former sex worker shares her harrowing history while exposing the ugly truth about young girls who sell their bodies to survive.

Alternating between her own story and those of the girls she has dedicated her life to helping, Lloyd, founder of the nonprofit GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services), describes how poverty and abuse create a conflagration of circumstances under which it is commonplace for girls as young as 11 to be commercially trafficked. Born in Britain, Lloyd watched helplessly as her mother descended into drunkenness and despair, and she left home at 13. Like the adolescents she now helps, the author was desperate for love, acceptance and stability. She found it with a man who turned her out on the streets and routinely terrorized her, but she eventually escaped and embarkedon her life's mission of helping others in similar circumstances. Lloyd points out that underage girls molested by one individual are considered victims, to be protected, but when commercially exploited, they are seen as teen hookers and punished. She exposes the brutality punctuated with kindness with which pimps enforce compliance, comparing their methods to those utilized in hostage situations resulting in so-called Stockholm Syndrome. While control is maintained through violence, these adolescents—who may seem sullen and resistant to intervention—are considered to be complicit in their own abuse. Lloyd fought successfully to change New York state law resulting in the Safe Harbor for Exploited Youth Act, making it the first state to protect rather then prosecute, but she argues that we must all embrace language to reflect this understanding—stipulating that the term "teen prostitute" conveys a pejorative choice rather then the reality of commercial exploitation and trafficking. The author acknowledges but does not directly address males in similar circumstances, but any at-risk child is covered under the new law.

A painful yet powerful book that asks readers to examine personal prejudices, find compassion for those most view as throwaways and recognize child abuse however it manifests.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061582059
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/5/2011
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Rachel Lloyd is the founder and executive director of GEMS, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services. The recipient of numerous fellowships and honors, including the prestigious Reebok Human Rights Award, Lloyd was a leading advocate for the Safe Harbor for Exploited Youth Act, which made New York the first state to protect, not prosecute, sexually exploited children. She lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Prologue 1

1 Learning 15

2 Risk 29

3 Family 47

4 Recruitment 67

5 Pimps 83

6 Johns 101

7 Victims 115

8 Cops 133

9 Staying 149

10 Leaving 169

11 Relapse 185

12 Unlearning 195

13 Stigma 209

14 Healing 223

15 Leadership 237

16 Beginnings 255

Acknowledgments 269

Notes 273

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 23 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(16)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 16, 2011

    Great Book, "A Must Read!"

    What a great book, very touching story. A must read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2011

    There is amother side of justice to be dealt with.

    Stop charging girls for crimes for which they are being exploitedw

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    This book was excellent! It sheds light on the unheard truth of sexual exploitation of children. Being a survivor and advocate, I was excited to read the story, reality, and recovery of Rachel Lloyd. It is reflective of many stories hidden within the hearts of women everyone.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 6, 2011

    Girls Like Us are beautiful

    I read Rachel Lloyd's memoir after watching the documentary: Very Young Girls.
    Rachel Lloyd's passion, strength and sense of humor comes across through her words as it does through her actions. She helps us to remove our preconceptions of girls in the life and see them as we see ourselves. Everyone who is a girl, was a girl or loves a girl should read this book (and then share it with a friend).
    Commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children and youth happens right here in the US. Let's stop turning a blind eye and work together to end modern day slavery today.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

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