Labels and Limitations

“I don’t know what this girl will do, her only skills are massage and strip dance, that is all she is good for, that is all she can do.” 

I was listening to a service provider tell me a story about a trafficking victim they had encountered. The girl was trafficked from Europe into South Africa to work in the sex industry. She is in her twenties and when she was no longer attractive enough to make her trafficker enough money, he left her with nothing.

Body and mind broken.

I have been mulling that line over in my head. “… All she is good for… all she can do.”

Growing up, people label us, and through their labels, they limit us. I have always been the stubborn and rebellious one, oh and the flirty one. In Sunday school no one ever made me Mary in the Christmas play, (I played the ‘unsaved’ kid who had never heard of the virgin birth;).

I was talking this over with a friend recently, and he had some wise words for my stubborn head, “Where people saw a rebellious spirit, God saw a strong woman that would fight for the oppressed and not be easily broken. It wasn’t the fight in you that was wrong, it was what you were fighting for.”

Last week I was having breakfast with another amazing friend of mine and we were talking about the limits people sometimes put on us because we are both young women. Some people say that maybe we are too young to really make a difference… What can we possibly know when we haven’t been in ministry as long as they have?

I shared with her about a recent experience where I was feeling especially crushed by the words of an older person regarding this exact thing: my age and my gender.

Someone looked at me and saw limitations.

The sky is the limit?

But then a staff member from NFS came and said to me, “We don’t want the fact that you are a young, passionate female to stop you from doing this work. We see that as your strength not your weakness.

Weakness being turned to Strength | sounds like Jesus stuff to me.

I wonder about the words spoken over my life, imagine if those words had the power to limit me.

I would be too young, I would not be wise enough, I would be the wrong gender, I would be too mouthy and sarcastic, I would be too flirtatious, and too rebellious, I would definitely never get to be the virgin Mary in the Christmas play, (okay I still haven’t done that but hey, a girl can’t get everything in life).

What if their words had taken away my ability to choose a different path for my life?

But they didn’t. Not because I wasn’t all those things, but because God had grace to take those things and turn them into something new, something redeemed, something beautiful and strong, something that gives me the confidence to step up and do my part in making a difference.

God took the limits and the labels, the things that held me in fear and he blew the roof off of them. He set me free from them.

I bring it back to the first quote about this European woman. She is very beautiful, and has been used as a sexual object for most of her life. After years of abuse, people have stopped looking at her as woman who could make a difference.

We see only what her abusers want us to see.

 Along the way the world has limited her, labelled her, and stopped giving her the power of choice to decide her own destiny.

At her young age, a woman not yet 30, labels have sentenced her to being only good enough to be used for one thing        


It makes me sick to think about, because I know there is such a greater plan for her.Not as a sexual object, not that death-sentence which robs her soul and steals her mind.

No! There is a freedom-sentence for her, a plan and a purpose, life abundant. There is a God plan for her. Something bigger and greater then all our limits and labels can comprehend.

God wants all that crap that people have spoken over her washed off. He wants her to have a new identity in Him, and he wants to give her the freedom to make a choice about what she wants to do. Just like he wants to wash each of us off from all the limitations that people pile onto us. Passionately redeeming us who are weak and foolish, making our limits into our stepping-stones.

 By the way,

We asked this young European lady what skill she can do.

We asked her what she would like to do.

 She can paint. She wants to make


5 Responses to “Labels and Limitations”
  1. Brendon says:

    Nice post. I pray that this young woman would make something beautiful of her art.

    • Dolly Caswell says:

      Ahhhh Saskia, good for you young lady!! You keep that passion and boldness, it’s God-given, it’s Him who enables you to speak up and fight for what He says is important. You are NOT too young, remember what they said about Timothy? Keep on keeping on girl and God WILL be glorified and people will be blessed by your presence and women will be rescued and find their Savior!!

  2. Thanks Saskia — again well written and well thought through. I read the following, called “Girls like us” Have you read it yet?


    27 of 30 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars Commercial sexually exploited teenage girls, March 31, 2011
    By Joan A. Adamak “Joan Adamak” (Prescott Valley, AZ) – See all my reviews
    This review is from: Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale, an Activist Finds Her Calling and Heals Herself (Hardcover)
    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What’s this?)
    What is the difference between a teenage prostitute and a commercial sexually exploited teenage girl? You will learn this when you read this book by an author who has been there, done that, suffered through it and yet managed to turn her life around. Thereafter she established an organization in New York called GEMS, acronym for Girls Educational and Mentoring Service, a safe house for commercially sexually exploited teenage girls.

    The author, Rachel, was the daughter of an unstable, poor mother and Robert, a man who may or may not have been her father, but who physically abused both her mother and her, finally abandoning them. Unable to face his desertion, Rachel’s mother, already a drunk became immobilized in liquor and depression, totally ignoring Rachel as there was no room in her life from then on for her daughter. Rachel was glad the man was gone for he beat on her often. Rachel spent little or no time at home, meeting her needs through shoplifting and running with her peers. However, in Rachel’s earlier years, her mother had been loving and took care of her. This gave Rachel a foundation when she was out of her teens to straighten out her own life and become what she now is.

    However, when thirteen, needing and seeking love and protection, she fell into the same trap that other teenage girls, ages generally from twelve to eighteen do. She met a suave man who took her to dinner, spoke softly and gently to her, made her believe he cared about her and then took her to his room and introduced her to sex. This man became her family, her Daddy, the only one who loved her and cared about her, but as time passed, he beat her up often for not enticing more johns more quickly, earning more money, explicitly following orders or just because he was in the mood to make her suffer.

    1997 was the end of the crack era. The idea is out there that most of these girls are drug addicted, but they are not. They are “love” addicted. Their desire for love is so great that they, in their youth and innocence, believe a kindness extended to them by their boyfriend (their pimp) is love, which keeps them under control and causes them to tolerate beatings, torture and murder, in some instances. More Black and Latino girls than White girls suffer from poverty, physical and sexual abuse within their families in their young lives, which make more of them susceptible to being out on the streets under the control of pimps.

    From the author’s own words, “The gang culture replicated the family unit for children who found their support systems in the street. The desire for a family is so strong and so overpowering for most children that it doesn’t take much to create that illusion. Pimps play upon this desire by creating a pseudo-family structure of girls who are your “wives-in-law” headed up by a man you call Daddy. The lessons that girls have been taught, implicitly and explicitly, about family and relationship dynamics are all fuel for the exploiters’ fire. The greater their need for attention and love, the easier it is to recruit them….Growing up with an alcoholic or drug addicted parent sets the stage for caretaking and codependency patterns that are helpful in making girls feel responsible for taking care of their pimp.” Girls who had non-existent fathers or abusive relationships with fathers are easily drawn to a pimp who calls himself Daddy.

    Throughout the book, Rachel gives many case histories of girls whom she has either rescued or attempted to rescue through the organization of GEMS. She describes almost every type of situation that exists. She also alerts the reader that most, but not all policeman, consider these teenagers to be prostitutes rather than victims forced into sex and thus are not sympathetic to their needs when they are either arrested on the street or are found beat up or try to complain about violence against them. She explains the differences between pedophiles, pimps and johns.

    Rachel’s experiences and case histories are generally in the New York City area, but acknowledges that the same conditions are prevalent in other large metropolitan areas. Social and governmental policies have been particularly destructive to children in the sense that children in poor neighborhoods frequently receive a substandard education, are subjected to lead paint in poorly constructed buildings, have higher rates of asthma, and fewer recreational or green spaces where entire neighborhoods have been abandoned. Children born into these conditions are more susceptible to the dangers of commercially sexually exploited teenagers.

    Children are vulnerable because they are children; their hormones are raging; they desire to belong; they are subjected to confusing messages about sex and love; and with the usual desire of teenagers to be independent, thus are ripe for plucking by pimps who understand the needs of these female children for love and can skillfully manipulate them into being forced or coerced into being sold for sex.

    Throughout the book, Rachel gives flashbacks of her life on the streets, her experiences with her boyfriend pimps and it was after she almost died from a beating by a pimp boyfriend, that she had an epiphany and joined a church, which became her salvation. Thereafter she finished her GED, attended college and set up GEMS with the help of others. But she also makes it clear that through the years in dealing with government officials, that often something is said that is disrespectful to her as a woman because she has never denied her background, which, has been to her advantage when trying to help these unfortunate girls who know she understands their plight and condition.

    The books flows well, reads well and is highly instructive. I would recommend this book even as a text book for anyone who is a social worker, politician, law enforcement officer or even a foster home provider. It gives an entirely different viewpoint about teenage girls thought of as teen prostitutes and of teen children whose lives have thrown them into this den of lions.

  3. justsaskia says:

    Thanks Brendon & Steve for your comments! Keep praying with us for this girl!!! I can’t wait to see the beautiful things she creates!

  4. Mieke says:

    You are right, you were definitely strong-willed, still are. But when you became a Christian you allowed the Holy Spirit to guide and direct you and He has led you ever since. And by the way, if you were offered the Mary part you would have refused to take it! Love you and I’m so thankful for how God is working in your life to help others. love Mum

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