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Girls Like Us

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  4,256 ratings  ·  508 reviews

A deeply moving story by a survivor of the commercial sex industry who has devoted her career to activism and helping other young girls escape "the life"

At thirteen, Rachel Lloyd found herself caught up in a world of pain and abuse, struggling to survive as a child with no responsible adults to support her. Vulnerable yet tough, she eventually ended up a victim of comm

Hardcover, 277 pages
Published April 5th 2011 by Harper (first published April 1st 2011)
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Average rating 4.35  · 
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 ·  4,256 ratings  ·  508 reviews

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Can someone please explain the Nobel Peace Prize Committee to me? Seriously. Look, I voted for Obama, and I still don’t understand why he won the Peace Prize. And the EU, honestly Canada, the US, and Mexico have avoided going to war for years and do we get a prize? Nope. Why don’t people like Rachel Lloyd win the blasted thing?
Lloyd’s book chronicles not only her experience as a se trafficking victim, but more importantly, the work she does with GEMS helping girls overcome their abuse and find
Crystal Starr Light
Oct 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, feminism
Bullet Review:

Do not read this book if you are faint of heart. This book will make you want to cry, to tear your hair out in rage, to raise a fist to the hundreds of politicians sitting in cozy offices, ignoring the plea of these commercially sexually exploited girls. Because when you are a 15 year-old African-American runaway from the bad end of town, you aren't a "prostitute". If that girl were a pretty white girl in a middle- or upper-class home in a white neighborhood, you can sure as bet yo
Kaari Anzel
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have to say, this is really the book that changed my life. Before I read it, I had only the vaguest suspicions that the boyfriend I'd had when I was 18, the one I thought loved me like no one else did, the one I gave all my stripper and "extras" money to, was really a pimp. I thought I'd just been weak and stupid, but this book explained the psychology of "the life" in a clear way that gave me a better understanding of myself- such a gift! What's more, it gave me increased empathy for the girl ...more
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I was a little nervous about adding this book to the collection as it is a book about the sex trafficking trade. However, it was a starred review and recommended for teens. So, when it arrived, I put it on my list of books to read.

I was pleasantly surprised. It was fabulous. Ms. Lloyd is to be commended, not only for writing a wonderful book on a topic that many Americans don't think about (the American sex slave, child prostitute), but for opening up her own life for as a lens to use for looki
Jun 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that everyone should read. Rachel Lloyd tells her story of sexual exploitation as a young girl, how she finally escaped the grips of her pimp, and made the decision to start working with other young girls and women. Lloyd grew up in England in a rough and tumultuous home. As a teen, she ran away to Germany, where penniless and frightened, she started working as a stripper. Her stories are heartbreaking and real. She is graphic in her depictions of physical abuse; the story is freq ...more
May 08, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favs, feminism, memoirs
This should be required reading or something. I cannot express how important it is for someone to not just read this book like you would any other book but truly understand what the author is saying, the stories she shares, the data she presents. This was published in 2011 but have things really gotten that much better? Look at how exploited girls and women are still treated to this day? Think about it, read this book, get angry about it and demand change.
Mar 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: abuse
I had the privilege of meeting Rachel Lloyd at a talk tonight at Circle of Hope where I bought her book, which she inscribed, "To the girls at Penn Treaty, with encouragement, love, & respect." ...more
Mar 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to read a book like this without your eyes welling up continuously. The author, Rachel Lloyd, is a saint.

The book alternates chapters of her life "in the life," which means exploited girls in the commercial sex trade, with her struggle and eventual success at establishing an organization called GEMS, which rescues trafficked girls in the United States and rebuilds their lives, which often takes months or years. The girls are trafficked as young as 11, often from abusive homes, and deve
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting, thought-provoking book; my biggest gripe was I wish there was a lot more story, and less commentary.

"I don't care what you call it, sexual exploitation and all that. To everyone else, we still hoes," someone tells the author at one point. The 2 main underlying points of the book, as I understood it, are (1) girls in the sex industry are by definition "victims" who are being exploited for profit, and should be thought of as such; and (2) mainstream society and cultur
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children. - Nelson Mandela

Omniscient - having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding

All of the omnis - all powerful, all-knowing and always there
(Omnipresent & Omnipotent)
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfic
If you scroll through the books I read, I might read a variety of things (YA, adult, manga, middle grade, manhwa) but rarely do I touch nonfiction. I'm not much of a nonfiction reader, it's not something I particularly like to read. So when I was given this book, I was hesitant to read it. When I decided to buckle down and give it a go, I was punctured through the soul from page one.

The data that Rachel Lloyd provides may have changed, but it does not neglect the information that is discussed a
Maya B
Sep 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book is a true testament to what young girls are going through because of human trafficking. I hope we get stricter laws to protect the young and innocent
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, audiobook, 2019
Absolutely devastating and important memoir written by a woman who was exploited in the commercial sex trade as a girl and who now runs an organization to help others get out of "the life." Or to simply support them when they're not "ready." I have a lot of feelings about this book, and they're mostly difficult to articulate and it's one of those instances where everything was both utterly surprising/horrifying yet somehow not surprising at all. It's absolutely sickening how many (including law ...more
Elizabeth Wig
May 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, z-2014
This book is sometimes surprising, sad, and painful to read. It is important to fight against the human trafficking that traps these girls in lives spent in commercial sexual exploitation. Lloyd emphasizes, rightfully, that it is not the victim's fault they are being exploited and discusses the troubles and victories she - and others - have faced in adapting back to normal lives. It discusses many nuances of the problem, making for an informative and eye-opening read.

"At thirteen, Rachel Lloyd
Jax Garren
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I want to pass this book around to everybody I know and tell them, "READ THIS. It's important." I got Girls Like Us after hearing Rachel Lloyd speak. She is as eloquent, passionate, and moving in person as she is in the pages here. Her critiques on feminism, race, poverty, and the way we categorize and dismiss people is as alarming as it is true. And yet, as sad as her story and the stories of the girls she works with can be at times, the message of hope and resilience shines through beautifully ...more
Mary Beth
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
This should be a basic primer for anyone wanting to learn more about sex trafficking. The author weaves her own story of being caught up in the sex trade within the stories of others and the stories of the work she does now to help others out of trafficking. It's heartbreaking, eye-opening, terrible, but also inspiring and amazing. You will close the book with hope, but you should also close the book determined to make a difference. ...more
Susie Schnall
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A moving, honest, raw portrait, discussion and explanation of commercial sexual exploitation of children and all its causes, casualties and implications. I learned so much from this book and am grateful to Rachel Lloyd for telling her story and the stories of the GEMS girls. This has forever impacted me and my view of this horrific American institution of which I knew nothing (except for the stereotypes and misinformation propagated in America to absolve our country of responsibility).
Jan 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Refuse to finish. "Sex work isn't about choice, it's about lack of choices". Umm, no. Huge blanket statement that doesn't apply to all sex work or every sex worker.

Moreover, this book is *barely* a memoir/autobiography, which is what I thought I was getting. Statistic after statistic... Not saying that's an awful thing, just not what I signed up for. Stopped at 80% done.
Marla O'Fallon
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Sing me a pretty love song as I start to cry
Tell me you love me as you wipe the blood from my eye
Tell me why the only one who can wipe away my tears
Is the only one who's the source of all my fears"

“ may not be able to choose your family or origin but you can choose your family of creation.”
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is FANTASTIC. AMAZING. I'd give it 6 stars if I could. As someone who works with trafficked and sexually exploited adults I often have trouble articulating to people how my clients are treated systematically, and how they came to be in the life. This book does a brilliant job of explaining the realities and guiding the reader with empathy. Really great book. ...more
Narrative Muse
– Fighting for a world where girls are not for sale –

Statistics and news reports show it’s a dangerous world. Each year brings more and more stories of how girls everywhere are bought, sold, and traded with little thought to their personhood. But even though I understand that sad reality on a cognitive level, Girls Like Us, a gripping memoir by Rachel Lloyd, made me truly, deeply understand it for the first time in the pit of my stomach. With tears in my eyes.

Never before has a book made me feel
Literary Strawberry
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, adult
Absolutely phenomenal. Rachel Lloyd does such a good job of looking at all the different aspects of this issue, including /great/ discussion of the psychological aspect, woven together with her personal stories, and it's all so well-written and engaging and so, so important. She doesn't shy away from showing the full reality of what's happening, but while she certainly describes a lot of physical abuse, I felt that she didn't go into any unnecessarily graphic detail about the sexual parts, which ...more
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“If an under age (sex trafficking) victim from Thailand, Ukraine, or anywhere else in the world is found at 2 am in a brothel in Queens, she was eligible for the services provided and funded by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act Of 2000. She could be taken to a safe house, given counseling for her trauma, and treated, as she should be, as a victim. If the girl who was found at two in the morning is an American girl, especially a girl of color, she was arrested, charged with an act of prostit ...more
Madison McQuary
Dec 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wow…this book is eye opening, heart breaking, and powerful!! I’ve read a good number of books about Human Trafficking but something about this one really changed how I see Human Trafficking! Rachel does an amazing job of sharing her story intertwined with all the stories of the many girls she has worked with through GEMS over the years…hearing their stories and taking on the weight of what they walked through really brings the huge issue of trafficking dull circle. I loved how Rachel broke the b ...more
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book to read about sex trafficking and human exploitation. Rachel Lloyd does a fantastic job, and it is inspiring to watch how she has progressed and motivated herself to get out of the life. She created a safe place and enforced advocacy among girls who are or have been in the life. I would recommend to read this book, as it makes individuals aware that sex trafficking is happening in the world, and we should not be blind to it. Educating ourselves about human trafficking is ex ...more
Elissa Cray
Jun 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is such a somber topic, but one that is good to learn about nonetheless. The author, Rachel Lloyd, is a commercial sex trafficking survivor. I especially appreciated the fact that I was learning about child sex trafficking from Rachel, because it made it more concrete instead of abstract. A book written about this topic from an outsider's perspective would not be anywhere near as powerful as it was coming from an insider. Rachel is an inspiring and courageous survivor!

God is so good. The L
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I donate to GEMS every year, and finally got around to reading the book by the founder. GEMS is so important, helping young girls who are commercially sexually trafficked. This is an issue that Americans are unaware of in regards of its severity, or, often, find the girls who are trafficked not as victims, but as "bad" girls. This book has gut wrenching stories, but it also so important in understanding these children in the "life." ...more
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A heartfelt and eye opening account of sexually exploited children. I learned so much about the subject, but also about human (especially female) resiliency and the power of community. Truly inspired by this author.
Mar 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Rachel & her nonprofit GEMS have done incredible work in this field & her memoir does a great job upending conventional understandings of trafficking & tracing the way CSEC is deeply tied to race, poverty and histories of trauma. Would have liked a more nuanced gender analysis - survivors of CSEC span many gender identities.
Apr 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Inspiring, touching, motivating - and horribly sad. We must do better for our children all over the world who are victims of CSEC...and more importantly, stop this from happening.
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In 1998, at just 23 years old, Rachel Lloyd founded Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS) at her kitchen table with $30 and a borrowed computer. She was driven by the lack of services for commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked girls and young women and the incredible stigma and punishment they faced from service providers, law enforcement, the courts, their families, ...more

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“Children who are victimized through sexual abuse often begin to develop deeply held tenets that shape their sense of self: 'My worth is my sexuality. I'm dirty and shameful. I have no right to my own physical boundaries.' That shapes their ideas about the world around them: 'No one will believe me. Telling the truth results in bad consequences. People can't be trusted.' It doesn't take long for children to being to act in accordance with these belief systems.
For girls who have experienced incest, sexual abuse, or rape, the boundaries between love, sex, and pain become blurred. Secrets are normal, and shame is a constant.”
“I am both numb and oversensitive, overwhelmed by the need, the raw and desperate need of the girls I am listening to and trying to help. I'm overdosing on the trauma of others, while still barely healing from my own.
I cry for hour at home and have fitful nights of little sleep. My nightmares resurface as my own pain is repeated to me, magnified a thousand times. It feels insurmountable. How can you save everyone? How can you rescue them? How do you get over your pain? How do you ever feel normal?”
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