Sarah J Hurley

The Importance of the Father Role to his Daughter

Fathers, be good to your daughters. Daughters will live like you do….” ~ John Mayer

When most people think of sex trafficking, what often comes to mind is the young Cambodian girl who is sold into slavery by her family. The other image is a young girl kidnapped right off the street, as in the movie Taken. And while these things can and do happen across the world, there is another scenario that is incredibly common: the girl who chooses or is manipulated/coerced into “choosing” to work in the sex industry only to be stripped of her rights and free will and every ounce of free will she thought she may have. Here are a couple real-life examples with a common theme.

Scenario 1
A girl comes from a middle-to-upper-middle-class family with parents who are still married. Her father works many hours. He loves his family, but he is not engaged in his daughter’s life. The father’s tween daughter is contacted online through Facebook by a guy she believes to be close to her age from out of state. At first, she is hesitant to respond, but decides there is no harm in a simple conversation. The guy, however, continues to pursue. He contacts her daily and their relationship grows. He compliments her, tells her how beautiful she is, and how he is falling in love with her. He tells her he will take care of her and love and protect her. He earns her trust over a 6-month period. Finally, he convinces her to lie to her parents and meet him somewhere close to her house. When she gets in his car, she realizes he is much older. He takes her out of state. He then has sex with her before trafficking her and taking every bit of money she “earns”.

Scenario 2
A promiscuous, teenage girl experiments with partying and drugs alongside her troubled young boyfriend before developing a strong addiction to methamphetamine. The girl, who had an absent father, was drawn to boys and to relationships and sex in an attempt to gain the security she never felt she had. The boyfriend tells the girl he is very sick, and needs money for drugs and a place to stay for the next few nights. He asks her to sleep with a couple of his friends to help him out, just once. She is hesitant, but doesn’t want to risk losing the only guy in her life so she complies. The money runs out in a couple days, however, and the boyfriend asks again. This time, the girl says no, but the boyfriend physically assaults her and tells her to do it anyway. He takes physical control of her from that point forward.

Scenario 3
A girl with a background of molestation takes a job at a local strip club. At 20 years old, she is attractive and has learned she can use her body to make money. She subconsciously believes in doing so, she can at least be in control of her body in a way that she was not able to through her sexual abuse. The money is good and she has no one in her life to hold her accountable, let alone show her love. Her baseline for love is distorted and so she believes one of her clients that say he wants to date her and take care of her outside the club. He tells her he has an opportunity for her overseas. If she will go to Europe for 3 months and work for an escort service, she will make enough money to get by for the next couple years. Then, she can come back and be with him and get out of this life; live happily ever after. The jump from stripping to prostitution in what was described to her as an exotic and glamorous environment does not seem that severe so she agrees. When she arrives in Europe, however, her passport and papers are taken from her and she is taken to a hotel where she is under lock and key and forced to have sex with 10-12 men a day in a tiny room. She never sees any of the money and has no escape.

Do you see the theme here? Every one of these scenarios, which are from real life, are similar in that the role the girl’s father played was, at best, disengaged and/or absent, and at worst, unhealthy and dysfunctional. Are there girls who get drawn into trafficking that had good, healthy relationships with their fathers? Sure, they’re out there. Trafficking crosses every ethnicity and socio-economic range. But by and large, you show me a girl who works in the sex industry or is a victim of trafficking, and I will show you a girl who didn’t have the relationship with her father that The Lord designed. I’ll show you a girl that was desperate to be seen and known and loved. And as one pimp said, “you can smell their desperation.” It’s not that difficult for a predator to identify his victim.

The role a father plays in the life of his daughter is critical. It is the baseline, the foundation, for every other relationship she has with a man. Fathers, you set the bar. Set it high. Be present and engaged in your daughter’s life. Know what she’s doing online. Show her love by spending time with her, hugging her, praying with and for her,listening to her and encouraging her. Let her know the expectations of the man who will one day replace you as the man in her life. Because, guess what? He may be a lot like you.

Take A Personal Inventory
1.) When was the last time you spent one-on-one time with your daughter?

2.) What are your daughter’s favorite things? What does she love? Can you easily answer or are you completely stumped?

3.) How do you treat your wife? Your marriage is the example to your daughter for how a woman should be treated by a man. Would you want your daughter married to someone just like you?

4.) Do you participate in our hyper-sexualized culture (i.e.Regularly viewing pornography, allowing unfiltered access to graphic movies, shows, and song lyrics for your family, letting your daughter wear inappropriate clothing, etc.)?

These are tough questions, dad. I know. And if you don’t parent perfectly (and none of us do), don’t think your daughter is going to automatically end up in one of the aforementioned scenarios. But please do understand the role you play in your daughter’s life. It doesn’t matter if you are married or divorced. It is never too late. Make a commitment and prayerfully consider areas in which you need to adjust. Your daughter will thank you for it.

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