Victims of commercial sexual exploitation and those who support them took to Independence Avenue on Friday afternoon to honor women who have gone missing or been murdered in Kansas City while they were being purchased for sex acts.
Robyn Potter survived working the avenue and organized the walk, which began at Lykins Square Park, with the support of her social worker.
“For me, I feel like I have to show this avenue that you didn’t beat us,” Potter said. “I get to stand here today and I get to look you in the face and say I won.”
She was awarded a Certificate of Survivor Leadership for organizing the walk.
“Not everybody gets to stand here with us today,” Potter said. “We lost a lot of good women on that avenue in some horrific ways, and for us we get to stand here today for them. We get to walk here today for them, and we get to show these girls that are still out here. Guess what? You matter to us.”
Some of the women recalled spending time on specific corners, and saw old friends along the walk from Norton Avenue to Van Brunt Boulevard.
Survivor Christine McDonald spent 17 years on the avenue before she found a way out. She recalled feeling invisible to cars, neighbors and everyone – except for buyers.
“What Robyn has put together is a community of not only we survivors who can pull from each other’s strength because we know the trauma we endured, but allies to say ‘we see you and we care, and we stand united,’ because there was a time that didn’t exist,” McDonald said.
Survivors chanted, ‘we are not for sale,’ at passing cars. They left care packages for women who frequent the corners on Independence Avenue, old purses packed with necessities and information about available resources.
One of those resources is Veronica’s Voice. Executive Director Lucy Bloom sat down with the Northeast Newscast this week to discuss the organization’s services for those who have been sexually exploited and how they have been workin to change the community’s perspective of sex workers since 2000.