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The thoughts - and lives - of the parlors' owners can change

In November 2019, I came to the biggest crossroads of my life. Everything was a mess: career, finances, health, and relationships with men. You name it – it was screwed up. I liked none of it, but I despaired that I could change any of it. I simply did not know how. I wanted better for myself and was tired of it all, but I had no idea what to do to fix it. I was full of ambitions, goals, and dreams, but the chasm between where I was and where I wanted to be was as vast as the distance between Earth and pretty much any other point in the universe.

From time to time in 2019, I heard the same message, whether online or at church: change how you think, and your life will change. Everything you do starts with a thought in your brain, so if you change the quality of that thought, your actions change, and your life changes for the better. I desperately wanted that to be true.

You don’t end up in domestic violence with a psychopath for two years without there being something wrong with the thoughts going through your mind.

Let’s stop here and make one thing clear: I did nothing to deserve or elicit the abuse I suffered. Everyone is 100% responsible for their own actions. This man chose to do what he did, and that is completely on him. No survivor of domestic violence is ever responsible for the abuse inflicted on them.

Domestic violence victims face a high likelihood of cycling back into another abusive relationship, which I obviously didn’t want. To avoid that, have a better life, and reach my full potential, I absolutely had to examine the thoughts in my mind, understand where they came from, and, most importantly, choose to believe differently about myself.

What were these thoughts that were shouting at me, whispering to me, driving how I saw myself for decades, and influencing everything that I did?

I’m stupid.

I’m ugly.

I’m boring.

I’m useless.

I’m a failure.

I’m nothing.

I have nothing worthwhile to say.

I’m a screwup.

I’m inferior.

When you have lies like these as your faithful companion for decades, you can see how you would end up in domestic violence with a psychopath.

Change how you think, and your life will change. The quality of your thoughts drives so much of what happens in your life and what you do.

It was not my fault I was abused. However, those negative thoughts that stayed with me every day for years meant that my self-esteem was nonexistent, and when the man who abused me entered my life, I had no defense against him at all.

I look back now at the woman I used to be with great sadness and compassion. I am different from who I used to be simply because I have made the choice to believe differently about myself. A positive mind truly leads to freedom.

This is the freedom I want to give to the women in Dallas’ erotic massage parlors, starting with the parlors’ owners.

So much attention is focused on the women who are trafficked into prostitution. Rightly so.

However, if we do not look at the people who run these parlors and if we dismiss them as being uninterested in our message, we will be making an enormous mistake. I do not believe they are one-dimensional people. I do not support what they do, of course, but I do believe some – not all, but some - will be interested in our message.

Why? Let me give you an example from my own life.

While I was caught in domestic violence, I went to a party. That night, I watched other couples, and I saw how comfortable they were with each other. Yes, it’s true that who people are in public can be different from who they are when they are alone. Even so, I looked around at other couples and envied their apparent peace. No one was being demeaned or insulted. Respect, at the party at least, was present. I wondered why I couldn’t have that, too. Even though I didn’t understand my life or the man I was with, I was profoundly tired of the dirt and depravity I was surrounded by. I just didn’t know how to escape it and have better.

I believe some of the owners feel the same way. It’s different, of course, in that they are the aggressors and not the victims. I get that. While that’s true, I do think some of them are tired of the lives they lead. Why wouldn’t they be? Their lives are enshrouded in secrecy, crime, and greed. Somewhere along the way, they were likely victims themselves of other people. I find it unlikely that the quality of their thoughts is very good.

I can easily imagine that from time to time, they look at other people who are leading peaceful lives and wish they could do that, too.

For the owners who are tired of their lives, regardless of how they got there or what they are doing, we are offering them a different way to think. We are offering them peace. What you believe about yourself and about other people, as I have learned personally, really can change and is a choice. I know now that I don’t have to believe those negative ideas that assailed me. Instead, I can choose to believe positive ideas, and I am. It is changing my life for the better, and I believe the same can happen for the owners of the parlors.

When you change your thoughts, your life changes. Having that truth be manifested in the lives of the owners of Dallas’ erotic massage parlors is one goal of The Flashlight Project.

It can be done.

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