By Abigail Larimore
On a stage that was mostly bare, save an armchair, a coat rack and a bench, a survivor of human trafficking told the dramatic story of her kidnapping, drug use and eventually redemption through a one-woman play.
Stacy Jewell Lewis, a survivor-activist, poet and playwright of Washington D.C., presented her show, “7 Layers Captive,” detailing her experiences in the sex industry, Friday Sept. 19 as part of Trevecca Nazarene University’s annual social justice conference on campus.
Audience members were given an all access pass inside the thoughts and feelings of a 19-year-old Lewis as she detailed how a seemingly harmless elderly man offered her a ride home, and instead took her to meet her new pimp. Or what it was like to see girls much younger than she, learning the same trade. Perhaps the most heart wrenching piece of the story, was learning that her captors had been following her for weeks , and threatened to kill her son if she attempted to escape.
Lewis became addicted to drugs after her pimp introduced her to pills to help curb the emotional pain. In addition, he would force Lewis to do drugs before taking her to visit the family. When her own family rejected her, it only drove her further into the arms of the man who set the trap in the first place.
In the second act of the show, Lewis discussed some common misconceptions about prostitutes. Instead of believing that trafficked individuals choose to be where they are, Americans must remember that this industry is first and foremost slavery, and no one chose to be there, she said.
Lewis is the first human trafficking survivor to share her story on campus.
Coordinators of the fifth annual social justice conference tried to chose and address topics that students are passionate about, said Jamie Casler, director of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice.
“Students help to drive this issue,” said Casler.
The show starred Lewis, who had the only lines spoken aloud, as well as other silent characters including Andrea Richardson, a Trevecca dramatic arts major.
Richardson landed the role after being approached by Jeffrey Frame, professor of dramatic arts and communications.
“He approached me and asked me if I would help out, because they approached him asking if he could find an African American female to portray her younger self in the show. I was really excited to do it,” said Richardson.
Hilary Frame, also a Trevcca dramatic arts major, worked as unofficial stage manager for the show, as well as a liaison between Lewis’s stage crew and Trevecca’s departments.
“There are so many more passive ways to share her life, but it wouldn’t get the same message or emphasis across. Plenty of people share stories that sound like fairy tales. But when you see someone act it out for you who did experience it, it creates a new level of reality,” said Frame.