Escort or Abduction? You Decide ©
by Isabelle Zehnder
July 27, 2006
Julia had been struggling to raise her son, Jonathan, alone for
several years following her divorce. There were months when she
didn't know if she could make ends meet, but somehow things always
worked out. Jonathan was eight when his father, Mike, walked out of
their lives. For the first several years Julia and Jonathan were a
team and had a very tight bond. Ron walked into Julia's life and
before long they were married. Though Jonathan was happy for his mom
he couldn't help but feel a void and slipped into depression.
When Rob moved into their home
tensions formed. Julia became pregnant and during her pregnancy they
discovered Jonathan's grades were slipping and his depression was
getting worse. Rob began to pressure Julia, telling her he had heard
of programs that would help Jonathan with his grades and his
depression. Feeling pressure from Rob, Julia got on the Internet and
began researching programs for troubled teens. With so many websites
to choose from her head was spinning. They all
promised wonderful results for her son.
She finally called an 800 number and
found a calm, cool, and collected person on the other end. She was
asked countless questions about Jonathan and was told he was headed
down the path of destruction. The admissions counselor, Patty,
assured her there were wonderful programs for her son. Within
24-hours she received beautiful glossy brochures for programs inside
and outside the US. Her intuition was telling her no, but the
pressure from Rob and Patty was so great that she finally gave in.
The baby would be born within a month and so, as Patty said, time
was of the essence.
The following day Patty called back.
She said after reviewing the online questionnaire Julia had filled
out she believed
Jonathan was suicidal and if she did not act quickly time could run
out. Julia's head began to spin. How could things go from her
child's grades slipping to him being suicidal, just like that? She
felt trapped in her situation and though her mother's intuition
again told her no, she agreed to send Jonathan to a program 3,000
miles from home.
Patty told Julia she felt it would be
best if Jonathan were transported there by a teen escort service.
Julia was adamant that she did not want him transported by
strangers. Rob overheard the conversation and said he felt it would
be best given Julia's condition. She pleaded with him to take
Jonathan since she could not travel such a distance this late in her
pregnancy. He refused, saying the timing was not good for him at
work. Again feeling trapped, and again against her own intuition,
Later that day she received a phone
call from the escort service. They informed her that due to their
travel plans they would need to pick her child up at 3:00 a.m. She
was outraged, saying she wanted him picked up during the day. They
told her that most children in her son's condition will resist and
will not want to go. They told her it would put undue stress not
only on Jonathan but on the entire family. She was told they had
years of experience dealing with children and assured her he would
be fine. Though this did not sit well with her, she again
They faxed the forms, she signed
them, and before she knew it the arrangements had been made. Her son
would be picked up the next night. The following day was very
difficult for her. As she tried to go through her day she could not
help but feel she was making a huge mistake. She tried talking to Rob
about it but he said she was being overprotective of her son and
that this would be the best thing for him and for them. He told her
it would give them a chance to start their new family while Jonathan
received the help he needed.
That afternoon she took Jonathan out
for an ice cream. She wanted so badly to tell her son what was about
to happen but she remembered being told he would most likely run
away. She held back the tears as she watched him eating his ice
cream, longing for the days when it was just her and Jonathan. She
questioned herself over and over again, but ultimately felt she had
no choice but to send him away.
That night she tucked him into bed.
She went into his room many times before 3:00 a.m., watching him
sleep. Thoughts rushed through her head of waking him up, getting in
the car, and taking him away from it all. She felt torn between her
relationship with her son and her relationship with Rob.
She got no sleep at all that night.
At 3:00 a.m., right on time, there was a quiet knock at the door.
She was shocked to see two large men standing there, not at all what
she expected. They assured her everything would be fine. They sat
down with her at the kitchen table, going over forms and telling her
it would be best if she went into her bedroom while they woke
Jonathan up and took him away. How could she do this, she thought?
Rob stood over her shoulder, assuring her everything would be
alright. Her hand shook as she wrote the $1,800 check.
Tears welled into her eyes as she was
escorted to her bedroom. She sobbed as she stood by her door,
straining to hear what was going on. She heard Jonathan scream, then
he was silent. What did that mean, she wondered? Was he reassured as
they said he would be? Or did they do something to him. She couldn't
take it any longer and opened the door. Just then she saw them - two
large men, one small child - she looked hard and realized her son
was in handcuffs. His head turned and their eyes met. She ran to
him, sobbing, but Rob pulled her away. She was able to swipe her
hand over his face as she yelled she was sorry and that she loved
As quickly as they came they were
gone. Julia had never experienced pain like she experienced that
night. No matter what Rob said, no words could calm her nerves. She
feared something horrible would happen to her son. She laid there
all night thinking about what had transpired over the past few days.
She realized it was not her decision to send her son away but rather
it was Rob's persistent coercion and pressure. She felt a deep
resentment toward him as he laid there sleeping, unaffected by the
events that had just gone on in their home. How could he be so
insensitive, she thought. How could he do this to them?
She thought about all the times she
taught Jonathan not to go with strangers. "Don't talk to strangers
..." ... "don't go with strangers ..."
She realized a complete stranger
convinced her to allow two men she had never met before into her
son's bedroom in the middle of the night. How did Jonathan feel, she
wondered? Like he was being abducted? She could hear Jonathan's
voice asking, "Why would mom just stand there and watch two men drag
me off in handcuffs? What did I do that was so bad that they needed
to do this to me?" Her heart broke.
Her mind would not let her rest. She
began to think about where he was going and that she had never had a
chance to go visit the place. How could she do this, send her son to
a place she'd never visited to be with people she had never even
The next day she received a call from
the escort company telling her things went well, he had reached his
destination. Great, she thought, I will call my son and hear from
him that he's OK. To her dismay, she learned very quickly that
speaking to her son was out of the question. "But", she said, "no
one ever said anything about me not being allowed to talk to my
son." The lady on the other end of the line assured her Jonathan was
alright and that she could even see him smiling.
But rest assured Jonathan was not
smiling. Instead he was taken into a room where he was strip
searched, beaten for 30 minutes by three large men, and told he'd
better learn quickly that they were in charge.
Julia was told that in order to talk
to her son he would have to advance to a higher level in the
program. She was told in order for him to advance he would have to
attend and pass seminars, and so would his parents. But she would be
having a baby soon, how could she attend a seminar hundreds of miles
from home, she thought?
Her head was spinning again. She
called her friend, Stacey, and broke down. Once Stacey was able to
understand what had gone on, she told Julia she would do some
research. It did not take long before she found countless news
articles on the Internet with allegations of abuse and neglect in
the very program where Jonathan had been sent. Fearful Julia would
go into premature labor, she brought all of this information to Rob,
believing Rob would immediately remove Jonathan for this abusive
program. But Rob told her to mind her own business. She, too, was
torn and did not know what to do.
Stacey waited until after the baby
was born when she finally approached Julia, showing her what she had
found. Julia was enraged that her best friend had kept this
information from her. But, when Stacey told her she had brought this
information to Rob and Rob had told her to mind her own business,
she broke down and wept and pleaded for her friend to help her.
Julia left her home and her life with
Rob that night. Though she knew it would be a struggle to raise two
children alone, she knew she could not stay with a man who knowingly
allowed her son to remain in an abusive facility thousands of miles
from home. She also realized he had convinced her to send her son
away because of his own selfishness, not because he was thinking of
Jonathan's best interest.
Julia took the baby to stay with her
mother while she and Stacey headed to the airport. They had read
stories on the Internet of parents who had difficulties retrieving
their children from these facilities. In one story, a child had been
transported to another facility out of the country. As they read
further, this mother told how she was unaware she had signed a
contract that allowed her son to be taken out of the country. Julia
searched for her contract, a contract she had never fully read. The
words jumped at her ... she had agreed the program could obtain a
passport for her son and could transport him to a facility outside
the US. Her heart sunk as they rushed to pick him up.
When they arrived they rented a car
and asked for directions to the facility. They drove for what felt
like a lifetime. The sun began to go down and they were still not
there. They had no idea the place was in such a remote area. They
stopped at a sheriff's office to ask for directions, since the ones
they were given appeared to be incorrect. The sheriff suggested they
rent a hotel room and wait until morning to pick up Jonathan. What
they had read in one mother's story was happening
to them. Julia insisted he give her directions. He refused and left
the room. The Desk Officer quietly walked over to Julia and slipped
a piece of paper in her hand and whispered for her to hurry. The
look of fear in the officer's face made Julia realize that no matter
how strong the urge to grab her and give her a hug, she had better
just walk away and get her son.
The directions looked promising as it
was evident they were very close to the facility. As they drove down
the long dirt road they saw a broken-down sign and a small,
dilapidated building. Nothing like the pictures they had seen on the
Internet. Where were the beautiful horses? The rushing stream? The
forest of trees? The fields of flowers? The numerous lakes and
ponds? All they could see was what looked like an old run-down farm.
As they approached the building their
hearts raced in fear - fear that Jonathan would not be there. They
entered the office area where they were greeted by a stout woman
asking what they wanted and why they were there without an
appointment. Julia swallowed hard as she tried to speak. She said,
"I'm here to pick up my son." The woman told her that in order to
pick up her son she would have to call ahead of time and make
arrangements. "Didn't you read your contract?", the woman asked.
"No!", Julia answered, "and quite frankly that's part of the reason
I am here tonight. Just get me my son!"
At this point they saw children
walking in a straight line, their chins to their chests. When Julia
realized the third child in line was her son, she screamed,
"Jonathan, come here this instant!" Jonathan took one look at his
mother and ran as fast as he could. Before the receptionist had time
to call for assistance they were able to hustle him into their car
and fled from the area, never signing forms or retrieving his
Once they were in the car Jonathan
could not stop talking. Julia later learned the children were not
allowed to speak but for a few moments each day. Sadly, after they
returned home he shut down and would not talk. It took months of
therapy before her son would even speak to her again. They are very
slowly re-building their relationship.
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